Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Solitary Path

The Solitary Path
by Scott Bradley


The morning glory!
This too cannot be
My friend.

Surely, this must be one of Basho's satanic verses! Where is the sage, enraptured among the flowers, one with all that is?

Yet sage or no, Basho was a human being, and thus realized his isolation, his essential aloneness in the world. Aitkens (A Zen Wave), whose translation this is, discusses this empirical reality in another context. He quotes Wu-men:

The great way has no gate;
There are a thousand paths.
Once you pass the barrier
You walk the universe alone.

Basho wonders at a morning glory in its beauty and would that they could commune together as one. Or, perhaps, he wishes that it too, could pick up its walking stick and accompany him down the road. But, in the end, we must all walk the way alone — how ever many our friends or intimate others.

I have twice now marveled at (and spoken to!) a blue flower on the path to the creek. I do not know its name — shall I call it Sally? Sally stands alone on a single slender stem rising straight, three feet from the ground. How strong her sinews must be! I want to know her, be enfolded in her mystery, but she and her mysteries belong to herself alone. I can only honor her as thus, and continue along my own similar way.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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