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The Gong Ringer - An Original Poem

Article Submitted By: BashkaJacobs
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 Time: 5:02 AM

long ago ( forty years?)

in the empty

dusty town of Bodh Gaya

in the state of Bihar in India

the Burmese Vihara

opened its doors for S.N. Goenka

the Burmese Vipassana

teacher.


to hand down the teaching

of Gautama

by way

of meditation.


the technique was simple enough

started by watching your breath

and then taking a mental broom

and cleaning your inner being

the way one cleans their teeth in the morning

the large broom  made of

thousands of straw hairs

of consciousness as we learned

to sweep our body

fresh and clean every morning

by remembering

everything changes

nothing stays the same

recognizing that our lives

at any moment can disappear

and the only way to be ready for this departure

is to know that you

are on a continuum that

does not last forever

and that in our meanderings

the nature of our journey

is to remain clear

with a heart of loving kindness

not to tenaciously hold on to anything

our anger, our distress, our idea of

how things ought to be,

to remember that it all passes

our reflections our musings

our expectations

our art

ourselves.


we gathered some slept on the balcony

in sleeping bags.


we called the participants

" snails " in those days

their lives in back packs

as they crisscrossed India

adventuring into unknown places

the great adventure of the 70's

along with heads of Acid

and arms full of who knows what

but eyes towards the Doors of Perception.


they came from all over

the Greek girls

the Danish boys

the Germans, the Irish, the English, the Frenche

ach with backpacks

a camel would carry.


they would stake out

their place on the

unrelenting wooden floor

and make it home

a rag of color here

a water bottle

with a view of the old trees

and the gekko singing in the background.


the day would begin

and end with meditation

and honing the techniques

interspersed with

wisdom from Gautama

who landed in this same placeand sat under the now

huge spreading Bodhi tree

and understood

that the nature of life

is about change

and learning to let go

its about this precious gift

of human life where

we can learn to expand

ourselves  for the benefit ofall beings.


this was not a religion

and never meant to be

it carried no deities or gods

there was no hierarchy

just the simple wisdom

of waking up.


every morning at five

not too early for a crow

i rang the gong

three times in all

a large brass one

that continued to sing

after i swung at it

with the mallet.


then from bedroll to bedroll

i woke everyone

and they cursed at me

a terrible way to learn different

languages and to this

day i remember some of  the Greek

the German, the Slovakian

the Swedish

curses and murmursof a sleeping soul

coming into wakefulness

when the body prefers

to sleep.


we would gather together in the great hall

while the cooks below

prepared the food for the day

we would sit in silence

blankets around us

listening to the morning chant

then the quiet of our

own reflections

the silence that led some to sleep

and others to become awake.


the smells of ghee would curl

through the boards

the gekkos would sing

large spiders would

race across the windows

the sounds from the vendors

waking up the pumping of water

the laughter of the servants

the low bellow of the buffalo

being milked

the children playing in the courtyard

the rickshaw drivers

wobbly wheels

on the stones

the monks swathed in orange robes

making their rounds

barefoot with bowls outstretched

and the trees held the crows

and more mellifluous birds

by noon the streets were filled

as were our stomachs.


a local bearded astrologer

sat on his haunches

ready to explain

your life and check the akashik records

for you.


many of the travelers had been

to the Ganges

had bathed in the Holy River

despite the dead cows

and worshiped there

many Indians believing that

a drop on the tongue

assured salvation.


now they were here in Bodh Gaya

leaving the colorful

God filled world of the Hindus

for the simplicityof this teaching.


They had seen for themselves

the filth of the streets

washed into the rivers

and yet

how people drank it

unscathed

surely this was a miracle.


and now this teaching

if the seed could take hold

was perhaps a miracle as well

that could change their lives

the teaching of loving kindness

the teaching of change

of seeing others

as yourself.


so the journey began

draped with dawn

in the small quiet town

where monks roamed

Tibetans

Japanese

Thai

Burmese

Cambodians

Ceylonese

the Laotians

all wearing different stylesof robes

all having put their cultural

stamp on the words of

the Buddha.

 

they shuffled from the great

ancient temple

to the lone standing tree

and sat

hoping for that quiet moment

of the soul

as we all did

crow.

About the Author

Bashka Jacobs writes poetry & lives in Ohio, USA.


Rating: 4.0

Comments

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 at 5:03 AM, by admin
S.N. Goenka, the Burmese Vipassana teacher, died on September 29, 2013, he wrote & talked wonderfully. See: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/vipassana-guru-s-n-goenka-dies/1176659/ for a sweet obituary.

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Submitted: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 Time: 5:02 AM