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Rashel Lytle

Climb This Mountain


If I walked this path

where above me the trees

hit the bluest of skies

that clouds swim in

and birds fly high in

my feet would feel only the rich earth


and I would breathe deep

the easy oxygen


Within me there

I would know the difference

Between beauty and vanity

and time wasted.


I would step and climb

Eventually reaching the place

Where I have stood 100 times

or less than a dozen

No difference.


My breath is heavy

when I reach that mountain top

And I stand there

closer to the sky and clouds

alongside the trees

with a valley between my next step

and the last

I wait there and want nothing more

than to have my awe and honesty

 resonate toward every living thing

100 times

or just once

would be no difference


Water flowing cleanly

so far below

The birds calling

and wind whispering

to the clouds crawling

still so high above


I know the difference when I stand there

I am a witness washed clean

and this mountain

is all the memory and emotion

I need take with me

I need ever recount or describe.



My Time


            Today the stars are visible


            my internal conversations


            Are universal


            I believe


            There is no true loneliness


            just grasping


            it prevents listening


            Yesterday was nowhere


            Today the stars are visible


            and the ancestors are speaking


            in that language


            That clarifies our tangled


            Thorny little efforts


            They have seen and done


            while we stumble


            We break today into bits


            (But, they have seen and done)


            In my time I am watching




            Not us


            They are the stars


            my love and seriousness


            There is no meantime


            Its not just this


            and not just today



Saturday Zazen


Entering the zendo

Shoes are put under benches

White lilies & a golden Siddhartha at the far end of the room

Zabutons & zafus are placed on the floor

We each sit & get settled

Monk Zenshin is speaking, explaining etiquette

Saltillo floor, rice paper-backed windows, his black cotton robe


I wish to re-connect, be with a sangha

So, I feel content, alert

As I settle into half –lotus, adjusting

Correcting my thumbs in the mudra

Monk Zenshin is describing, suggesting

What are our relationships to things?

Notice your relationship to the person seated beside you

…your relationship to the windows, to the door

I notice my ankle, uncomfortable

And monkey mind, is sitting with me


Monk Zenshins voice continues

This is a place for realization

…discussions get left at the door

Withdraw from the outside, just breathe           

Posture should be still, mind can become open

As eyes loosely gaze the tile, we become still, quiet

Birds become audible, traffic, an airplane

Practitioner, student of awareness

 of impermanence

I inhale, breathe out- without strain, but with focus

I go back to my breath, just my breath

My relative anchor, weightless

Relationship to the room -feels unified, wide open


I’ve left all else outside

I have only my breath, tight knees, and hearing the birds outside

Monkey mind is active, so I redirect

Hearing the others breathe, I’m aware of the life in the room

…This place is NOT where hermits come

…This place is where ALL the hermits have been


Practitioner, student of awareness,

 of impermanence

I am the same as the mist of the clouds,  the same as rain collecting on leaves…

Zenshin monk had said, no koans here, NOT a place for intellectualizing…


Trying not to follow monkey mind

I inhale, exhale, count my breath

Begin to sense that unification can be manifested

With just stillness

Buddha-nature is apparent, it’s always available

Sitting this way, practitioner, mere student



My awareness causes the notion

That I exist

I fill a space, sense

That I travel in the Now

 inhale, exhale

Eyes loosely gazing the tile

Just my breath, my relative anchor, weightless


Empty mind becomes realization

of an expanse,   as wide as the cosmos

This practice manifests a connection with all else

Breathing, sitting

Practice leads to liberation, no attachment


The tea, weight of it in my hands, scent in my nostrils

Its fluidity as it passes from clay cup into me

It is the work of everything

It means nothing


This place is nowhere

As we sit, acknowledge the vastness of all else


After 25 minutes of sitting

We unfold ourselves, stand, and put on our shoes.

Slowly transition to the outside

We forget our breath,  we forget  the birds

We simply walk away


Rashel is a single parent who found Buddhism several years ago while being treated for invasive breast cancer. She feels that the process of poetry can be similar to meditation in many ways. The process requires the poet to open her eyes in a unique way in taking the time to focus on little letters and how to convey meaning with them to translate herself to others. A deeper relationship from one to another is often realized through poetry. Understanding is a universal desire, and a gift when it can be shared.