What is Zen?

Written by on February 22, 2013 in Poetry with 0 Comments

What is Zen?
A poem by Christian Joore

The goose flies
pulling its shadow
across the lake.
The water lies
carrying its shadow
With no wake.
The Moon shines
on the waves
Without cause
the waves reflect
the Moonlight
without pause
How genuine
How ineffable
This is zen
This is not zen


Inspired by traditional Zen themes, this poem uses the symmetry between the goose’s shadow and the moon’s reflection to demonstrate an inherent interconnectedness in nature. One that is both very blatant and a deep secret at the same time. A truth that if attempted to be penetrated by thought and the intellect, would certainly recoil it treasures away.

The objects mentioned in the poem and the nature of their interactions demonstrate an make an allusion towards the interconnectedness in nature. An interpenetration best expressed in the fact of the reflecting nature of light and water. A complementarity of interaction so fundamental that it leaves no trace behind.

However to balance the blatant imagery, I both affirm and deny there being any Zen. The spirit here was demonstrative. I wanted to show that an idea beyond words, is delicate. And although verbalism can arouse profound thought experience it can also get trampled under the weight of its intention, of its idealism.

Words are the henchmen of intellectualism, they wish to gain for themselves what they point at. Yet if read correctly the intellect can be quieted to allow the words to point away from themselves, to give a transcendental meaning. This is essence of poetry after all.

The final denial of zen in the last line is meant to counteract the affirmation that preceded it. The affirmation was a troublemaker in this case. It tried to corrupt the entire poem. The denial actually was a transcendental affirmation giving the poem back its poetry.

In essence, keep what you tell yourself about things in a glass bottle nearby you, not balancing on your head.


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