“Two Vocations: Buddhism and Body” by Hannah Rodabaugh

“The mind is an organ of thought and objects are set against it:
The two are like marks on the surface of the mirror;
When the dust is removed, the light begins to shine.
Both mind and objects being forgotten, Ultimate Nature revels itself.”
—Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh

“Enlightenment is basically not a tree
And the clear mirror not a stand
Fundamentally there is not a single thing—
Where dust can collect.”
—Huineng, Sixth Zen Patriarch in China

A. We are speaking or. . .

B. We were speaking once.

A. Can dust gather dust?

B. What does meditation mean if to embody  it we may embody prejudice?

A. The second grain becoming a kind of
Dust to the first?
This implying an individuality
(While we give it the responsibility
Of aggregate): an experience that is
Universal to what is not dust.
We may not have asked dust particles what
Their relationship to each other is.

B. A question of definition concerning actions
Only answers us
If we trust the names of actions.
What does it mean to have one action?
Can something be so limited to do one thing
Only? Like obscure sight only?
If we believe this does that become prejudice?

A. We do not ask
What does it mean to be exteriorly
Precise to others—how do you judge it?
Dust’s failure not to be exteriorly precise
Enough to us
Speaking solely of us.

B. Can I force force? (Can I move what is already moving?) Can I hurt hurt? (Can you injure what is already wounded?) If so, this means stealing can be stolen. It can be the active and passive of stealing; stealing can be the subject and object of stealing. There is a whole complete being of stealing.

A. This is not about precision
But about judgment.
Ignoring this,

B. In reality, we do not ask what the limitations are of what we have named.

A. Ignoring this,
We ask only what
The limitations are
Of agency’s agency
(Our exteriority, a kind of

B. In reality we do not ask what the limitations are of what we have named.
A handshake becomes one thing only, now only being that action which is a handshake. That this becomes its body—a meteoric body—for the handshake to live.

A. Knowing that if an action appears with
Limitations like an object or a book
(This, what aggregation)
Then we can say it to be an object,

B. Do we treat each other so simplistically? I cannot remember now.
But, if you hear I am a woman, and this calls up a set of limited characteristics, as if I am a handshake, then I have become a handshake. And if I have a body, it is the body you have given me; it is the body of the handshake.
This is neither simplistic, nor profound. The same men who write of enlightenment. . .
“What would you say to a crying baby?”
“I would tell it ‘mind, Buddha.’”
“What would you say to a crying baby that knows ‘mind, Buddha’?”
“I would tell it: ‘not mind, not Buddha.’”
. . . Also limited the agency of their wives, daughters, sisters, or mothers.
Preforeseening their actions as if they are dust—”a thing with one objective.”

A. At some point, we must ask the question,
“What can we believe?”
All the while knowing the
Argument to be specious. . .

B. There are few true actions.
Friends, we are better off as half-asleep to touch and name a face then to seek them. If you do, you will cry only and be ashamed.

A. . . .Yet still using language,
Reinforcing it
As language is symbolic of objects

B. This is not an ending “to cry only” about a lack of agency. When I write about crying about a lack of agency I am neither crying nor lacking agency, as the person who writes about sadness is beyond the sadness they write about: language being only about distance.

A: We are speaking or

B: We were speaking once.


HANNAH RODABAUGH received her MA from Miami University and her MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School. Her work was included in Flim Forum Press’ anthology: A Sing Economy. Her work has been published in Defenestration, Used Furniture Review, Palimpsest, Berkeley Poetry Review, Horse Less Press Review, Smoking Glue Gun, Nerve Lantern, and others. Her chapbook, With Words: Verse in Concordance, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.

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