empty bowl with spoon

Gone (poem)

I’ve been contemplating Shinzen Young’s method to court enlightenment by focusing on the passing away dimension of phenomena. We are usually focused on the arising of objects in consciousness as they easily capture our attention. Everything that arises in this world of impermanence eventually passes away. We tend to jump from one arising to the next, fed by the stimulation. His label for paying attention to phenomena that passes away is the word “gone.” He argues this is a short cut to the awakened mind state … yet not so easy to practice.

So I’ve been striving to do this meditation practice and thought I’d write a poem about it. Enjoy!


Last splash of milk in the tea cup
Last egg in the carton
Last two frozen potato patties
Too early in the day for emptiness

Just how can being depleted, used up, finished
signal the path toward liberation?

Earl Grey tea bags in a sealed jar
Corn flakes bagged in a glued box on the shelf
Orange juice inside an unbroken twist top in the refrigerator
Satisfaction lies within the container.

Yet soon enough they will be empty too.

Skipping breakfast doesn’t loosen the fetters.
Neither will switching to pancakes or oatmeal.

The awakening might happen though
               at the end of a swallow.