Buddha's Birthday Poem 2023

buddha poem

For Buddha's Birthday Ceremony at the Providence Zen Center April 1, 2023.

Happy birthday Buddha!
But how is this possible?
What even is the Buddha?
Is that Buddha?

Dried shit on a stick?
Three pounds of flax?
Grass shoes?
Is that Buddha?

Somebody asked Zen Master Ma-tsu, "What is Buddha?"
He replied, "Mind is Buddha."
Later, when asked the same question,
Ma-tsu replied, "No mind, no Buddha."

So which one is it?

Zen Master Un Mun once said, "On the Buddha's birthday, as he sprang from the side of his mother, I hit him once and killed him, and fed him to a hungry dog. The whole world was at peace."
How is that possible?

Our original nature doesn't have name and form.
Doesn't have birth.
Doesn't have Buddha.
So, how can we acknowledge the birth of Buddha in this moment?


Outside, it is raining.
Inside, many bright faces.

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