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Heart Sutra

By Michael Rothenberg

In 1999, Michael Rothenberg became the caretaker for his teacher and mentor, Philip Whalen. The following poem is taken from his recent book, written as a eulogy to the late poet.

Dharma transmission:
“another maniac unleashed, alas!”
Buddhism in America
“The upper middle way”

    Old Hippie

        say someone gives you roses
and you’re allergic to roses
can you still be romantic about roses?

Generosity, Humanity, Heart What is the Heart Sutra?

it’s the body being passed overhead
above a crowd
of politicians and power-mad bureaucrats
    by the keepers of the faith

            *

Oceanly Cosmos
Buddhist Disco
What is Sangha?
Ecology of Permission
Poolside, Bedside
All sides inside & out
Dharma, Karma
Parmagian cheese
Oh, Rome,
the hospital is closing
& patients in the extended
    nursing
wing are listening to the visiting
keyboardist play
“Old Man River”

            *

talisman
Heart Sutra
huge mass of Buddhist philosophy
condensed into a few lines
reduced to a mantra:
    “Gone, Gone
    Gone beyond
    Gone beyond beyond
    Hail . . .”

From Unhurried Vision, © 2003 by Michael Rothenberg. Reprinted with permission of La Alameda Press.

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