To Understand

Sometimes I stare, still disbelieving,
at the charred ruins of my burnt ambition,
and the futility of all my former knowledge.
How swiftly the fire of recognition, once ignited,
showed me there is nothing we can cling to,
not a thing which we can claim or own.
You ask from whence I come.
I answer, “Here”.
These ashes made a fertile womb,
and somehow a living sprout of light
has pushed up through the silt.
Deep gratitude for that light!
Whichever way that I turn in the mirror
of this ebony vastness, my own light reflects
back at me. What’s awake is awake in dark
of night, as well as in the light of day.
It’s the light within both, the light
in which all appears and vanishes.
To the mind, this all-pervading radiance
may appear as darkness, yet even within
the darkness, there still awaits a hidden joy.
Now this is difficult, not many will comprehend:
within that secret joy itself, there stands a desolate,
crumbling ruin of a palace, stripped of any treasure,
rain freely entering, gently soaking the remnant ashes
from which I’ve come, quietly washing them down
my cheeks like tears — not of sorrow, not of joy,
not of anything within the country of the known.
It’s only by letting go and resting in this nowhere
place, ashes smeared across my head, bereft of any
will or hope, that I begin at last to understand.

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