An Inner Monastery

Part One

The abbot speaks:
“All the world is maya,
but that word originally meant
‘standing in for,’ not ‘illusion.’ ”

These words leave his lips,
then quietly reverberate through the hall.
The monks realize what that means
        (a deeper, richer world, behind,
        living within, this one).
They see it right in front of them,
inside themselves too,
the joy of recognition dawning.

They go down the stairs for tea.
The steps come up to greet them.
The walls lovingly hold them in their embrace.
The plum blossoms in the courtyard
whisper sweet nothingness in their ears.
The air crisp,
yet almost liquid at the same time.
Time slowing down,
hearts rising up
to greet the next moment’s offering.

Time for real
(but real quiet)

Part Two

Later, the monks glide down the hall,
looks of gratitude on their faces,
exchanging glances of recognition
of their shared good fortune to be here.

They seem to know a secret about the world—
perhaps that our normal view
of life is two-dimensional, flat,
or thin, like the gruel given to prisoners,
as we remain locked inside
our everyday minds.

But within these walls,
the monks reside in a special glow
that shines through everything,
even themselves­.

They pray, they chant, they sit,
they breathe together,
they bring the world behind this one
closer to the surface,
slowly but inexorably replacing
the broken-down, throw-away world
we have left as our legacy.

As we sit with them,
we absorb the peace they emanate,
and an understanding—
that the moments of full awareness
given to us are never wasted.

They endure,
forever blossoming,
like love.

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