Date: 11 June 2017 / Coordinates: 32, 27, 44.315 North, 90, 6, 42.332, West

Path-Crossing: Comparing Notes

(Talking of Practice-Grounds Over Rice Wine

With the Householder Bright Mountain Forge)


In the early afternoon, I lost myself for hours

watching the slow winding roll

of the sun's golden hem edging the clouds.


In the late hours, I met up with Bright Mountain Forge ---

a householder, traveling through the region on business, heading home to the West.


Though his eyes were bright

his belly happy and round from feasting

his beard long and full in the Daoist-style,

his heart seemed stone-like, heavy.


He spoke of marriage, children, the Way of the Householder ---

precious memories and gifts he would never trade.

But he also spoke of mourning things ---

things that would not come to pass midway through his householder's life.


He explained that no one understood this grief,

which could break through any time, without a moment’s notice.

He said everyone he knew sang the same chorus: You have it all. What else is there?


Knowing that I currently 'live-into the call'

to long draughts of solitude, deep-flow artistry, and wandering,

he formally requested I "keep on keeping on"

and not lose my "practice-vigor."


"Practice for practice sake," he said,

"practice for yourself

in memory of our teachers

for a world that needs wisdom and beauty;

but think of me in your practice, too,

and when you doubt it, please push through."


I nodded with deep understanding,

having mourned my own list of things

that don't seem to be in the stars for this life.

I spoke of the Hermit Way;

moving from bright gleaming idleness to movement to poetry,

then into nights of dimly-lit Silent Illumination.

But I also told of my own visit to the 'stations of mourning'

including grieving some of the very things

that are part of his daily practice-ground.


I replied:


"Practice for practice sake

practice for them

practice in memory of the lineage of householders

practice for a world that needs wise children and beauty;

but think of me in your practice, too,

and when you doubt it, please push through."


We parted that night, hearts gladdened,

feeling a new spark of solace

for who, what, where, and how we are.

He resumed his journey on the road.

I resumed my meditations beneath the stars.

(c) 2017 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen /

This poem appears in The School of Soft-Attention, now available for order from Homebound Publications or

To learn more about the ambient soundscape collaborations of Chihei Hatakeyama and Federico Durand, visit the Bandcamp page for Chihei Hatakeyama.