Apr 6, 2024
Martin Goodson

Wind by Phyllis Reid | with commentary by Martin Goodson

Poet's Corner

This poem manages to convey what it feels like to give ourselves wholeheartedly into the everyday activities of life.



This is a great day -

Run out and pick a tree,

Seize a great flaring beech

And wave it overhead.


Run shouting through the fields,

Leap hedges and rivers,

Maenads will spring to meet you,

Contesting the race.


Run - though you trail the clouds,

Run through the roaring world,

This is a giant day.


The poem above was taken from Poems I Remember by Christmas Humphreys. He is the founder of the Buddhist Society in London which celebrates its centennial this year.  Although

I cannot find any further details of its author, the expression of Life with a capital L is so perfect as to warrant its inclusion as the first in our new series of poems. 

Occasionally a Zen student will ask, “How do I know that I’m doing Zen practice properly?” A simple way to answer the question is to point to this poem and inform the student that when the whole of life is connected to this great Life, we can rest assured that we are finally practicing properly. Indeed, we have arrived! 

Master Daiyu Myokyo’s first instruction for Zen practice was always: “Give yourself wholeheartedly into what is being done”. The whole heart is key. The wind in this poem is not just the outer force but an inner one that swells up from the depths of a heart that has become empty of all obstructions. This wind is not just a raw elemental force, but a humanised one which expresses the joy of Life by simply being alive: “Run shouting through the fields, Leap hedges and rivers.”

Life also recognises all life as itself and, if we express that whole-hearted living of it, life will also come to meet us in the everyday, in the mundane and the ordinary. This is what Master Rinzai meant when he said:

Just be your ordinary selves,

Do not give yourselves airs!


Aloofness separates me from life in the same way that a bucket of water drawn from a river no longer expresses the energy or flow of that river. So, we must keep diving right back in and then all spiritual beings will become known to us. In this flow of life there is nothing to seize hold of. Trying to do so will only end in dry words. Yet words watered by this life do speak - so speak them!

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