Thursday, November 1, 2012

Variations on a Chan Parable

There is the truth
And there is the tiger’s eye
There’s no way to see
The one from the other
The form from the mirror

All is reflected
Inside of the tiger’s eye
The sentry that sees
Through each camouflage
To the flesh underneath

There are no ideas
Except in the tiger’s eye
So purely it sees
The folly of others
Inevitably turning to meat

The forest and trees
Divide for the tiger’s eye
The death that it sees
The animals bow
The lord only growls

The top of the mountain
Goes through the tiger’s eye
That sees how the kind
Alpine goats are too high,
A thought that terrifies

You sprinkle your light
In front of the tiger’s eye
That seizes and sees
All colors but white
‘Til those you would reach are blinded

There’s nothing more just
Than the gaze of the tiger’s eye
With wisdom it sees
And logic it strikes
The string we call trust

There is no escape
From under the tiger’s eye
The way that it sees
Becomes what things are
The polar bear star

Wherever you go
There is the tiger’s eye
Sees all you do
You think it knows you
And you it

You never would guess
How it frames, the tiger’s eye
What you see to size
Eyeing its prize
What you love best

I gave Fanny over
For a shot at the tiger’s eye
Only to see 
That it never quite was
And my life was in error


Anonymous said...

My search in response found Francis Chan.

In one take, the tiger's eye was truth. In another, it was...truth one consciously avoids. While reading your work, if meaning eludes me, I enjoy the pondering that follows. I definitely cannot say that about other things I read, watch, et cetera.

William A. Sigler said...

Thanks Jack for your prompt and your ever-thoughtful comments.

Chan is a Chinese form of Buddhism, roughly equivalent to Zen, and the parable in question reads as follows:

"One day Huai-hai asked Huang-po where he'd been. Huang-po answered that he was at the foot of Ta-hsuing Mountain picking mushrooms.

"'Have you seen any tigers?' Huai-hai asked. Huang-po reared up and roared like a tiger. Huai-hai picked up an ax. Huang-po suddenly slapped Huai-hai's face.

"Huai-hai laughed heartily and when he returned to the temple he said to the assembly: 'At the foot of Ta-hsuing Mountain there is a tiger. Watch out! I have already been bitten today.'"

It was in the process of figuring out what the tiger was in that parable that this poem emerged.