Sangha of the Smurfs
Well, this is awfully cozy. Far be it from me to bust up a great big fuzzy group hug. If Walt Whitman and plenty of affirmation is what you want, God love you.
It's odd, though. You guys have read a book by a punk who said, question everything ... doubt everything ... test everything ... take nobody's word for nothin', but find out for yourselves what's so. Bash and crash and take the big adventure. Presumably that attracted you, and here you are. And some among you are willing to be challenged, and others are not. Not everyone can be or wants to be or should be. Okay.
But don't pretend that Big Questions have nothing to do with Zen. What is man? Is there will? How do we define tolerance? Is Zen materialist, or not? Is Buddhist compassion anything like love, or not? Some of you dismiss such questions as mere posturing, just argumentative crap. But these questions have everything to do with Zen, and everything to do with how I can practice and how I can live my life, and I'll apologize to nobody for delving into such things.
If that's not your cup, fine, there's always Stevie Nicks. But such things have mattered to a couple of millennia of Buddhists so far, and I'll ask you to take my word for it that they matter intensely to me. Not that a poem-of-the-day forum is the place to discuss them.
Poetry may be the highest aesthetic achievement of mankind, and in the form of pop music it has an emotional grab that nothing else can match. But don't kid yourselves. It isn't Zen.
Lyric verse is a celebration of the world and the things in it. A good poet sees particulars, he notices things in themselves, he is attached to the wild variety in this world and is drawn to the uniqueness of this because it isn't that.
I love lyric poetry and in the past I've lived my life by it. I've published a bit of it in good journals -- not much, but some. Poetry is a celebration of this world in all its gorgeous, chaotic concreteness.
But this is exactly what Zen tells you isn't real. It's a celebration of the attachments from which Buddhism wants to release you. It's a love affair with the world that Zen calls an illusion. It's fine to tell yourselves that there's "crossover" between poetry and Zen, but so sorry, there is not. Not unless you debase both poetry and Zen to mere sentimentalism, and to do that is to commit two crimes at once.
Two crimes, guys. Because poetry is no more cuddly than Zen is. A while back, I mentioned that I had first met my wife while doing battle over each other's writing. Well, the writing in qestion was our poetry. Poetry is a lifetime endeavor and it has its own calculus. It's not all subjective: there's much to critique, to debate, to brawl about, much in it that can be done right or wrong. To read Seamus Heaney and go, "Ooh, hey, nice," is to miss everything.
So if Zen is too hard, and you want to get away from thinking, then poetry is really no escape. Just thought I'd mention it.
As for myself, I'm fine in any case. There are serious people around me, both online and IRL, so if the smurfs take over Flapping Mouths, eh, no problem.