|Jul/Aug 2016 Poetry Special Feature|
Photographic Artwork by Victoria Mlady
Hwadu Attempt 1
"Hwadu" is translated as a "critical phrase" or "keyword" that is given to practitioners of the Korean variant of Buddhism, Korean Sõn. The hwadu is characterized by the mystery or inexplicability of its statement; logical examination of the statement is neither relevant nor applicable. Thus, practitioners have no choice but to look inside themselves and face their own existential condition. An example used by one of the founders of modern Korean Sõn Buddhism, Kyõnghõ Sõng'u: "The work of a donkey has not yet gone; the work of a horse has already arrived."
The mule is not cognizant of its yoke;
the mage is not draped in wood.
Korean Sõn Buddhism recognizes the liberation
this dead-end integrity offers from
the self-parade trap:
the web tingles, the spider readies—
defeat the all-too-familiar reconnoiter!
Away, mazed truth! Lo, conundrum.
In parade fashion the maze arrives;
the loom recognizes the grave departure.
Barely attainable, this; mere fragment of thread,
sheer membrane looming between toes spread.
Empty the head, fill in with white. I cannot
will enlightenment, I cannot with might or brute