Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem"

This poem was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rix_scaedu, [personal profile] redsixwing, and Stephen Laird. It has been sponsored by Stephen Laird. It also fills the "emancipation" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage fest. This poem belongs to the series Kung Fu Robots.

"Taking Refuge in the Triple Gem"

For the kung fu robots,
identity is a matter of function,
not a matter of form.

This is a thing which they have decided,
since they were built to be soldiers
but did not wish to be so.

They are now something --
anything, everything --
other than soldiers.

Most of them have chosen
to remain neuter as they were made,
although some have decided to be feminine
and some have decided to be masculine,
all of which is confusing to the humans
for reasons unclear to the robots.

Logically, would not at least one of those paths
have made sense to someone other than themselves?

Citron is not particularly bothered by this
because its teacher, White Peony,
is a very old woman who has declared herself
over and done with matters of the heart.

Today they are sitting in the sunlight
beside the water wheel and praying.

I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for
all sentient beings to understand the great Way
profoundly and make the greatest resolve

The Buddha inspires all the kung fu robots
to seek enlightenment instead of
stumbling through someone else's orders
like so many silvery sleepwalkers.

Citron does not know if any of its kin
have the capacity to hold Buddha-nature,
but that will not stop them from trying.

I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for
all sentient beings to delve deeply into
the Sutra Pitaka, causing their wisdom
to be as broad as the sea

The Dharma leads the kung fu robots
on the quest they have undertaken,
a path of emancipation that opens itself
for them only as they move forward,
as the grass parts around a traveler.

Citron's path has brought it here
to a little village aside from the world
of robots and technology, so doubtless
there must be lessons worth learning at hand.

I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing
all sentient beings to lead the congregation
in harmony, entirely without obstruction

The Sangha is the community of
all those who follow the Way,
the monks and the nuns
and the lay practitioners alike.

Citron understands that humans
often take this journey together,
that they may support each other;
so too Citron has the company
of its brothers and sisters and siblings
even though they are not present
in Peach Blossom Spring Village.

White Peony brings out a ceramic vase,
tall and square with round holes in the sides.

In the center she places peonies for masculine energy
and cherry blossoms for feminine energy.

She coaxes Citron to fill the side spaces, and it does,
choosing azalea for patience, daffodil for respect, lotus for purity,
and a honeysuckle vine for generosity binding them all.

Like the flowers, Citron is spilling out of
all the boxes anyone ever tried to keep it in,

and perhaps that, too, is part of enlightenment.

* * *


The Triple Gem refers to three pillars of Buddhist faith. Sutta Pitaka is a collection of teachings.

Japanese and Chinese flower arrangements rely on structure, beauty, and symbolism.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, spirituality, weblit, writing

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