Have you figured it out yet? (a poem about navigating the mind)

April 9, 2018




    This is a silly but very honest poem that I wrote as a way of summing up my mental struggle with practice. This goes for my creative practices as well as my meditative ones but this poem is addressing Zen meditation specifically. It seems that there are always multiple (me’s) in my head and each one with its own agenda. There is a part of me that sets intentions and harbors expectations. There is a part of me that analyzes the whole process and doubts my ability to accomplish my goals. And then there is the part that is beyond the whole system of goals, achievements or failures and is simply present with what it. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish which one is actually directing me in a given moment but as long as I am able to remember my practice I am usually able to let go long enough to receive some clarity.




A couple of days ago I was on a solo-hike in the mountains and was trying to remain completely present with my experience.

I was actively following my breath and feeling the shifting terrain through the soles of my boots.

I was moving at a gentle pace so to, more deliberately, take in my surroundings.

I was allowing the rain and, as the clouds gathered strength and the temperature dropped, the snow, to wake me through contact with my skin.

I was doing all of this and feeling pretty good about myself, when suddenly I heard a voice.


“Have you figured it out yet?”


At first I just brushed it aside and went back to the view-

but then it spoke again.


“Have you figured out what IT is?”


I was carried away by thoughts for a moment but managed to bring myself back, once again, until...


“Have you figured out who and what you really are?

Have you discovered the shape of your face before your parents were born?

Have you isolated the sound of a single hand clapping?”


Annoyed and now thoroughly distracted, I finally responded.


“What is your problem? Why do you keep annoying me? Can’t you see that I am up in these mountains with the intention of figuring this out?

I’ll tell you what; if you are that which has existed since before my birth and also that which continues beyond my physical death; if you are so goddamn smart, why don’t you give me some answers?”


I waited for a reply but only heard the wind rustling the needles in the Conifers.


Hearing this truth, I bowed deeply and returned to my hike.


Zen is constantly getting in the way of my awakening.


And yet…

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