Under the Bodhi Tree (Poem)

One spring noon under the Bodhi tree.

I happened to know what is enlightenment like.

I didn't sit.

I didn't meditate.

I didn't recite Nenbutsu.

I just saw an empty seat.

That's it.

I just saw the existence of seat with nobody sitting there.

But I thought this realization was what we call enlightenment.



So what does an empty bench mean?

It is very simple.

It means,

I could sit on the bench,

You could sit on the bench.

That's it.

By not sitting on the bench,

there could be a great possibility that anybody  could sit on the bench.

And of course, I could sit on the bench, too, if I want.



I thought empty mind could be the same, too.

I imagined my mind was empty.

What happens?

I imagined myself open my heart.

I could accept different ideas,

I could accept different people,

I could accept different religions.

These acceptances could be possible,

because of its emptiness.




Then I imagined

what happens if my mind was occupied  with something else.

Because it was occupied,

It would be very difficult to accept

something new

and something different.

No matter how great they may be,

I could not accept them if my mind were full.




One spring noon under the Bodhi tree,

I happened to know what is enlightenment like.

It is like an empty seat.

Empty my seat.

Empty my mind.

By making it empty,

You could be happy,

and I could be happy.

What a wonderful teaching of emptiness!


K.I    April 9, 2014



I don't know if I can call it poem,

but this was my first chanllenge to make a poem in English,

inspired by Photo-Haiku Master David Thorp.

I wanted to explain the picture above by words.


For me, photograpy has been very good form of expression of my understanding of this world. 

I like it because I don't need to speak.

It is always a photo that speaks about the potential great story.


But my job of minister requires me to speak at various occasions.

Without speaking, I cannot transmit the great teachings of Buddha.

I have to speak up the Dharma.


This was how I tryed to write a study-poem, in addition to the photo.

My intention was to make a photo haiku....as Master Thorp shed the light on the photo-haiku,


"With the right words one only needs a few of them to share a lot about the Buddha's teachings. That is what I reach for with the photo haiku, a few words to convey something beyond words, and a combination of words and images that cause the mind to pause and be open to the energy of the moment. That way, hopefully, the light of Buddha Dharma has a space to shine in and illuminate."


Well, it seems to be a long way to make a photo-haiku in English,

but I have enjoyed both thinking and writing on "Under the Bodhi Tree."


Write a comment

Comments: 1
  • #1

    mo (Sunday, 13 April 2014 11:42)

    You are in wonderful form with your Sunyata poem.
    Shiki soku ze ku
    Ku soku ze shiki

    Question, in the fifth line, is nenbutsu the same as nembutsu, or is this a typo?

    Please write more poems in English, you have the energy of the moment working.