Bob Schwartz

Saguaro shelter

This saguaro is more than a hundred years old. It lived through the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It lived through the 1950s and 1960s when concerns about nuclear war prompted Americans to build fallout shelters to survive that war.

It was during that time that this saguaro began building a fallout shelter. But then it changed its mind. It wasn’t sure how well a saguaro could fit in a shelter. It wasn’t sure that others who were fearful and hadn’t built their own shelters wouldn’t invade and displace the saguaro. It wasn’t sure that even if it built a shelter that a saguaro could fit in and even if it stayed there for years, there would be a world worth returning to. Most of all it wanted to believe in world peace and an end to war. So the saguaro stopped building.

The uncompleted shelter still stands as a monument to the fears and ultimately the hopes of this saguaro.

© 2022 Bob Schwartz

“Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!”

“Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!”

Simply go beyond rational thinking and you will reach a point where you will not know what to do. Inquire there. Who is it [who inquires]? You will know him intimately when you have broken your walking stick and crushed ice in a fire. Now, how do you achieve this intimacy? Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!*

*This sentence seems probably to be Bassui’s way of indicating transcendence of logical thinking.

Mud and Water: The Teachings of Zen Master Bassui (1327–1387) by Arthur Braverman

Bassui Tokushō

Died on the twentieth day of the second month, 1387, at the age of sixty-one

Look straight ahead. What’s there?
If you see it as it is
You will never err.

When Bassui was about thirty-one years of age, he heard the running of water in a brook and was enlightened. Thereafter, he spent most of his days in a hut in the mountains. When people heard of the solitary monk and gathered to hear “the word, he would flee. In spite of his longing for solitude, Bassui did not turn his back on the simple people, but taught them Zen in words they could understand. He often warned his followers against the dangers of drinking, and forbade them to taste “even a single drop.” On the margin of his portrait he wrote, I teach with the voice of silence.”

Just before his death Bassui turned to the crowd that had gathered around and said the words above. Repeating them in a loud voice, he died.

Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death by Yoel Hoffman

Today is the eighth day and tomorrow is the thirteenth!