Harley White

Sweven - Poem by Harley White

Once some travelers on the road
to a land of treasure, slowed,
halting in their journey's pace
halfway to that distant place.

Scared that bandits might attack,
they decided to turn back,
too discouraged to proceed…
Hence the group began to plead
with the guide their fears to heed,
their concerns, and urgent need:

'The road is long; the going's rough.
We think we've journeyed far enough.
That treasure's too remote to seek.
We're weary now and feeling weak.

'Illumination's brilliant glow
is something we may never know.
We've lost the will to carry on.
Perhaps there is no brighter dawn.'

This guide was clever, sage, and wise.
He wanted them to reach the prize.
The leader thought he would devise
a scheme to make a town arise,
by mystic means, before their eyes.

From compassion, out of pity,
then he conjured up a city
from thin air, out of the blue,
though illusion, seeming true.

Next, the leader swiftly said:
'See that country up ahead…
there you may relax and rest
in this formidable quest.'

That walled city, stately, grand
seemed a strange and wondrous land
with parks, gardens, lakes galore,
mansions, gateways by the score,

mountains, valleys, plains, and trees.
Here the travelers felt at ease.
Each and every earthly pleasure
they enjoyed to fullest measure.

There were found the ways and means,
roundabouts and in-betweens,
all spelled out in doctrines, schools,
precepts, laws, and golden rules.

And in this city, heaven-sent,
they rested to their hearts' content…

Their exhaustion passed; at length,
when they had regained their strength,
felt refreshed and of good cheer,
he made the city disappear.

Yes, when they'd had an ample stay,
the leader made it go away…

Then to the travelers he said:
'Now you must push on ahead,
apply yourselves with heart and soul.'
Thus, they continued to their goal.

Was this town a phantom heaven,
an imaginary sweven?
Oh deluded humankind!
It was a figment of their mind.

We are here; it's where we are—
no use wishing on a star…
Still, this sweven heaven's real—
more than just a way to feel.

For this city, where we dwell,
is the treasure land as well.

If we choose to take the helm,
tap an all-pervading realm
of utterness, we can attain
a destiny that breaks the chain
of suffering, once and for all—
a state within that will enthrall!
Why put it off; why do we stall?

Difficult the road to follow;
often all our dreams seem hollow;
but the gateway of this Dharma
is the path for changing karma.

Hard to believe and understand,
yet there lies the treasure land
in that theme and title sound
of the Sutra most profound.

So, let this be our parable,
when the world's unbearable,
and our life feels terrible…

For the Dharma flowers grow
and enlightenment will show,
if we only onward go
with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo…

< September 3,2014 >

Topic(s) of this poem: narrative

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Inspiration for the poem ~ (Buddhist) Parable of the Imaginary City (or Parable of the Phantom City and the Treasure Land) ~ found in the Seventh Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (aka, Lotus Sutra) . It is a famous story that illustrates with a parable the doctrine of the 'replacement of the three vehicles, i.e., provisional teachings, with the one vehicle'.

This parable is found in Chapter Seven of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Below is a passage of the commentary by Nichiren, from The Dharma Flower Sutra Seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin - Translated by Martin Bradley.

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (Kyō) . This means that the imaginary city is the place where the treasure lies. Hence, all the mountains, valleys, or wide plains that we live on are the places where the treasure of the eternal silence and the brilliance that is enlightenment abide.

This can be seen at the link for... dharmagateway.org... then at the link for... 'Dharma Flower Sutra'... then at the link for... '7th Chapter on the Parable of the Imaginary City'...

Comments about Sweven by Harley White

  • Jacqueline Nash (9/5/2014 11:13:00 AM)

    Wonderful poem with superb rhyming, a good story with an interesting message. Thank you. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 5, 2014

Poem Edited: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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