Jorge Luis Borges’ writings frequently turn towards questions of the nature of the self. The title of this poem is “Boast of Quietness.”

Writings of light assault the
   darkness,
More prodigious than meteors.
   The tall, unknowable city takes over the countryside.
Sure of my life and my death,
   I observe the ambitious, and would
like to understand them.
   Their day is greedy as a lariat in
the air.
   Their night is a rest from the rage
with in steel, quick to attack.
   They speak of humanity.
My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of the same poverty.
   They speak of homeland.
My homeland is the rhythm of the
   guitar, a few portraits, an old
sword, the willow grove’s visible
   prayer as evening falls.
Time is living me.
   More silent than my shadow, I pass
through the loftily covetous
   multitude.
They are indispensable, singular,
   worthy of tomorrow.
My name is someone and anyone.
   I walk slowly, like one who comes
from so far away, he doesn’t expect
   to arrive.

The gateless gate of Mu is a beginning, an entry point, a place where the possibilities are endless, where the depth of this life becomes unfathomable, where the heart responds to every ache, every tear. This is the meaning of a living tradition. It means working within that tradition, recognizing what has been offered, and recognizing your role in it, in making a difference.

When I started practicing here many years ago, I had a series of dreams that accosted me nightly. Several of them had to do with Daido Roshi and seemed like dreams that were calling me to attention. One very vivid dream involved both of us being in a small plane, a World War One two-seater. He was a pilot, sitting behind me, steering this open cockpit plane into the eye of a raging storm, a tornado that was swallowing the whole world. Daido Roshi would say to me, “Take over. Start flying. Take over.” I kept turning back to him and saying, “You must be crazy. Into that?!” Finally he started yelling at me, “Take over the controls!” And I did. Then I heard an eerie laughter behind me, and when I turned, there was nobody there. This was a one-seater plane.

Although alone, we are in good company, a very generous group of people that extend themselves beyond any measurable mark. They offer us a way to travel and to discover our completion. They encourage us to see ourselves for who we truly are. Recognize Mu. Recognize the possibility of your life. Recognize what has been done for you, what small gestures and the grand visions are all about. Our expression of gratitude is to enter again and again—gratitude for the opportunity to practice this way, practice and train for those who came before us, and for those who will come later


Konrad Ryushin Maharaj, Sensei is vice-abbot and Director of Operations of Zen Mountain Monastery. He received dharma transmission from Daido Roshi in 2009.