From what I have surmised over the past twenty years of introspective practice, Zen has everything to do with learning to live inside of questions and not so much living inside of the answers to those questions. It is so simple, that I have often been accused of being a buffoon or at other times a pompous jerk. Anymore, I try not to talk about Zen; I would rather discuss how someone is feeling or maybe muse on what a beautiful sunset can do to the psyche. Nonetheless, I am titling this collection of poetry a Zen Poetry book and I therefore feel obligated to speak briefly about Zen and poetry.
This leads me then, to a question and not an answer that I find such a wonderful and refreshing treat. What is Zen poetry? We all may have various ideas about what poetry is or what it should be. This question about Zen poetry has been pondered since Bodhidharma first expounded the Blood Sermon in the Sixth Century of the Common Era. So, like the scholar that I am I followed back the origin of the word “poetry” in Chinese written language, and I found that the logograph or written character for poetry is an ideogram pronounced (shih); and this character is the combination of the individual logographs for “word” and “temple.”
I have discovered that Chinese language, due to the structure and imagery evoked within the logographs themselves, is much more visual and poetic than the derived Greek languages we use in the West. This is an inseparable part of the imagery that is manifest within each of the symbolic ideograms. Compared to Chinese our alphabet is a cryptic type of binary computer code, which can convey a lot of information but contains no imagery other than the meaning implied directly; however, the images that spring forth in written Chinese for the word poetry for example is that of “a temple or shrine for words.”