Bodhi Day 2003

by Ryuei Michael McCormick

This is the poem I wrote and presented at the temple for Bodhi Day, December 8 2003. I decided a poem would be a nice change of pace from all the boring talks I gave.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,

Bodhi Day 2003

“Even though the flesh falls from my bones

and the bones themselves crack,

I will not get up from this seat

until I have attained supreme and perfect enlightenment!”

So saying the prince sat into the deepest darkness

with nothing but himself for company

but the demon murderer and seducer Mara

was within himself.

Mara is the carnival barker,

the ultimate cosmic con man,

the one who keeps you at the table

hoping for the next lucky throw

and each roll sinks you deeper into karmic debt


But the prince saw through this

sitting ever so still and calm

watching all the past plays

every win and every loss

and the house always wins

and Mara owns the house


But the bodhisattva saw something more

the orderly procession of seed and flower

flower and seed, seed and flower

and fertile soil, flowing water, all embracing light

an endless cycle of growth, fertility, decay

he saw every cause and condition which had

brought him to this flowering beneath the Bodhi Tree

he saw the causes and conditions of all life


The morning star broke through the darkness

a new view of life shone through the bodhisattva

now a Buddha with infinite light and life to share

a vision taking in the farthest galaxy

and the nearest mote of dust

a vision of flowing boundless life

with no birth and no death interrupting

no need to keep spinning the wheel

All things in tranquility just as they are


No need for self-interest anymore

no need to fear sickness, old age and death

no need to stay in a losing game

spinning a wheel that has no real payoff

Buddha had stopped the futile game at last saying:

“House builder, you have now been seen;

You shall not build the house again.

Your rafters have been broken down;

Your ridge pole is demolished too.”


The Buddha stepped out of the ruin

of the decrepit burning house of Mara

and into the golden eternity

of the pure land of tranquil light

and even now is shaking us awake 

so each of us can see it for ourselves.

Copyright by Ryuei Michael McCormick 2004.

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