Lifetimes by Madeline Schreiber

Lifetimes after lifetimes
It could look like that
Rolling by like mala beads
Death and birth
Birth and death
One before the other
Then another after
Now one leads
Now one follows
All in their appointed orders
Good karma, bad karma
Leading and following
Ticking past time
One and the same

Pleasing sounds of clicking beads
Holy fragrance of lifetimes past
Released by thousand year old incense
Rising on thin streams of smoke
The discipline of every moment
Visions of smoke and butter lamps
The guilelessness of hearts’ simplicity
Faith is the heart of what we do

Whose nose is it that smells this now
Whose mouth and stomach starved for food
Whose skin burned and whose skin shivered
Whose eyes cry tears both then and now
Whose bottom presses rocks for comfort
Whose sweat washes the fruits for the children
Whose voices cry for others’ pain
Many pitches merge in devotion
Many voices chant with us

A great ocean of devotion
Filled with love of many disciples
Holding together on windy seas
Praying not to lose their shape
Cracking up on rocky shores
Of panic stricken continents
Not to let the hot sun drink our moisture
We need the moisture to make our tears

Where’s the bliss I heard about
I counted the beads and did the chants
Where is it?  Why can’t I find it?
Is it before each moment of lonliness?
I take refuge in Buddha’s wisdom
                                           
To follow the path of devotion and wisdom
Which was laid out for us so clearly
A red ribbon road of endless curves
Blood red, we have to face it
Even if the day is lightless
Even if the night is darkless
With every being known or unknown
With every being seen or unseen
Open to all we do not know
We have faith in Buddha’s wisdom

Madeline
January 2010
Nova Scotia

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