Tag Archives: Buddhism

Poetry Corner: Shadow

no solid self
How frightening –
And so we build something more solid,
cling to it tightly,
But the unconcerned sun
still casts us into shadow

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch


Poetry Corner: Tiger

Be confident like the tiger,
the teachers say –
strong, wasting no effort with his elegant steps
Meek – the word Rinpoche used

But he can’t mean that
It was just a translation thing,
one of his odd usages,
hunting the English language
for a word that almost meant what he wanted.
No, I’m the one who’s meek,
too timid to take a confident, tiger-like step,
too afraid of mistakes and their consequences,
resigned to being a wallflower, grumpily

But what if meek really is the right word,
(for me if not for the tiger)
in the manner of all those Zen koans
with their inherent contradictions:
timid and confident together,
expanding to encircle the whole of it,
somehow walking anyway, step after step

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Rinpoche is a title used by certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers – in this case, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who came up with that unusual term meek to describe the traditional Tibetan dignity of the tiger. I was about to take a class on the topic when I wrote this, feeling a little perplexed about what I could possibly get out of the class.

Poetry corner: Raft

Random Buddhist’s random shrine: repurposed things, thangka booklet handout from a class, cheesy Buddha statue on a keyring

Clinging to a raft
in a rough sea,
tossed around by anxiety,
crowds of nagging memories,
flashpaper bursts of anger

Looking at the people on the shore,
watching –
They’ve figured it out, haven’t they?

I wave,
letting go one hand with trepidation –
Hey, Sid?
Little help here?

He just looks up, smiles,
takes the raft away.

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch


Poetry corner: Path

It’s hot.
I have a neck wrap –
the kind that holds water and keeps you cool –
I soaked it overnight,
ready to come on a summer walk.
Left it in the sink.
Now it’s hot and I have no relief,
getting more uncomfortable, angrier
by the minute, each sweltering step.
Turn all obstacles into the path,
the Buddhists say,
and so I try –
Try to welcome this forgetting
as a chance to keep walking,
step after step,
not listening to the voice in my head –
“So stupid, so stupid”
but to the song of birds, each one different,
and quieter, more subtle,
the unperturbed rustle of insects.

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Author’s note: “Turn all obstacles into the path” is a variant on the Lojong slogan “When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.”

Another day, another writing dilemma

So this happened. Photo from ADOT via KPHO

So this happened. Photo from ADOT via KPHO

Is every writer’s blog a collection of dilemmas? More to the point, does everyone repeat themselves the way I do? (I’m guessing the answer is Yes.) This time I’m revisiting the question of how a creative person – particularly a writer, who has to stay tied up in words – can follow a practice like Buddhism, which is all about letting go, and particularly letting go of words.

Here’s a particularly striking example of the impact words have. See all that fire on the road in the image? Yeah – I was driving through that last week as I was coming home from work. I’m in the process of drafting another post about this incident for the blog on the Phoenix Shambhala Meditation Center site, where I periodically contribute. Here’s how I’m describing the incident for that post:

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Taking yourself seriously


Thanks for the inspiration, NYC Shambhala

I’ve been writing romance novels. The last two books I self-published were the first two in a planned series of four romance novels, and the project I’m working on now is the third in the series. I’m writing them under a pseudonym to differentiate them from the rest of my work, which is much different in style and tone. I call these my “cheesy romance novels,” partly as a joke, and partly because I have this lingering feeling that they can’t really be taken seriously.

This is a pretty lousy attitude to have toward your own work. I try to remind myself to be professional, to take all my work seriously and to write what’s best for the project at hand. In fact, this project is starting to go very smoothly and I’m happy with it. I wrote the first two books seven or eight years ago, when I was much more optimistic about publishing, and it’s been a real struggle to get back to number three. Finally it’s going well, I’m happy with it, I’m feeling successful – and yet I can’t help hearing the little voice in the back of my mind saying, “Are you sure this is what you should be wasting your time on? Shouldn’t you be working on one of the more serious story ideas you have?”

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