I had no idea where this poem would go when I started it. It’s been a long time since I allowed myself to just write spontaneously. Usually I need a clear conceptual road map. I only had one general idea to write about—the Japanese aesthetic of ma, or negative space.
Last night, I attended a dharma talk in San Francisco. We have been discussing the various ways of feeling and thinking about the body in vipassana meditation. My teacher discussed how we are constantly adjusting our bodies throughout the day as we strive for comfort. How we are all united in our longing to be free from suffering.
I’ve been using my body as a sign post for my identity for a long time now, and this image surfaced in the draft above. Throughout my life I’ve been at war with myelf— with how people perceive me because of my body, instead of the “me” struggling inside. I have to constantly remind myself that neither exists in a static way.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of “The Heart Sutra”:
Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body. The body is exactly empty, and emptiness is exactly body. The other four aspects of human existence — feeling, thought, will, and consciousness — are likewise nothing more than emptiness, and emptiness nothing more than they.
All things are empty: Nothing is born, nothing dies, nothing is pure, nothing is stained, nothing increases and nothing decreases.
So, in emptiness, there is no body, no feeling, no thought, no will, no consciousness. There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, no tasting, no touching, no imagining. There is nothing seen, nor heard, nor smelled, nor tasted, nor touched, nor imagined.
I’m attending a writer’s workshop tomorrow night, and an open mic on Friday. Maybe I will have this in readable shape by then!