Carolyn Atkinson: This Is What There Is

carolynThis is what there is:
Waking in the dark and cold. No more sleep.
This is what there is:
Rain on the roof. Newspaper soaked and muddy.
His mouth trembles as he thinks of children suffering.
Autumn leaves, red yellow, suddenly changing.

This is all there is:
Sitting down again and again, in the dark, in the cold,
In the sun, in the rain—this is all there is.
Hair turning silver, teachers dying, lovers leaving, old friends returning.
Grown children calling to say, “I love you.”

This is what we have:
Cold ocean breeze, salt in the air.
A mother cries out, calling her son a fool.
This is what we have:
A friend eating soup across the table.
A struggle to praise this mutilated world.
A wish for transcendent meaning. A desire to change our lives.
And this desire—is what we have too:
A wish for the heart to heal, the mind to relax—
This, too, is our life.

It can’t be right, can it?
But, this is all there is:
Unopened mail, unfinished lives.
Grief, pain, unexpected joy.
Green tea. Shivering. Fog rising from the land.
Wishing to be elsewhere.
The moon at the window.

This is all there is:  birth, death and everything that lies between.
Nothing special. Everything special. Nothing other than just . . . what . . . it is.
This is all there is.

This is what we have: life, as it is.
Late-season roses, jasmine.
Learning to love just these ordinary lives.
Shoes. We have shoes.
This is what we have. This is what there is. This is it. This is it.


~Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson is a Dharma Heir of the late Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi. She received Dharma Transmission from him in 2001, and completed her Transmission with Vanja Jakko Eso Palmers in 2003. She is the Guiding Teacher at Everyday Dharma Zen Center in Santa Cruz, California. She has been teaching since 1998 in a blending of styles—influenced both by her lineage with Kobun Chino Otogawa in the Soto Zen tradition, and by training in the Theravadin tradition at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she completed Community Dharma Leaders training. She also led New Year’s Sesshins at Stiftung Felsentor in Luzerne, Switzerland, for seven years. Prior to teaching, she practiced acupuncture and herbal medicine in Santa Cruz for twenty years. She has two sons who live in Santa Cruz with their families. She loves her life.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter 



Categories: Zen

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