Tail of Two Realities
I have a pet tail.
Or perhaps my tail has a pet me,
I'm not sure.
The tail has a dog which it wags constantly,
Until I scold it or its dog.
I would have gone on thinking
That my dog has the tail
And that I have the dog
Were it not for this revelation
That I was stuck in my thinking
About relationships between things.
Now I'm uncertain,
But this peculiar twist seems to work
So I'll follow it through.
You see, it is a very powerful tail.
At least, it seems to be the pillar
Around which the Universe itself moves.
When I pat the head of the tail's dog
I begin to swing quickly
Back and forth like a pendulum.
In fact the whole room moves
Except the tail.
The dog and the room and I
Stay in perfect correspondence to each other.
We vibrate back and forth in sweeping motions.
If I grab the tail then this swaying stops.
I wonder if somehow we could
Tie everything to the tail so we wouldn't move.
The tail definitely has a dog, though.
Wherever the tail wants to go,
There its dog goes just before it,
Swaying like a pendulum.
Sometimes the tail must not know
Its own strength in moving the Universe.
The room will be swaying
And all of a sudden, BAM!
The couch swings right into it,
Or I'll be propelled against it myself.
I wonder why it isn't more concerned
About these tremendous things
Too much too fast and it might get hurt!
I've been told a dog can live without its tail.
Can a tail live without its dog?
I think not.
Yet I cannot say
That the dog is therefore superior,
Since the tail does not have the need
For food and sleep the way its dog does.
Its dog seems more concerned
About the tail's welfare than it does.
Once I accidentally stepped
On some of the tail's hair.
The tail didn't seem to mind at all.
No, but its dog yelped horribly
Until I lifted my foot.
And the dog won't let the tail
Go anywhere without it.
Try as I might, I could not coax the tail
To abandon its dog
And come away with me.
So its dog comes too.
I imagine that separating dog from tail
Would have much the same effect
As separating my head from my body.
Now there's an interesting thought.
Almost as if I have this body
I cart around to do things for me.
Where would I be when I removed my head?
I'd have difficulty claiming
That it was homocide and not suicide.
Would it be my body that killed itself
Or would I be guilty of killing *it*?
It really wouldn't matter much to *me*,
How could *I* claim anything after *that*?
You have a body
Just as my tail has a dog.
Yet a tail doesn't 'have' a dog
If the dog *is* the tail
Or, as I might argue,
If the tail *is* the dog.
You might ask why the distinction
Between dog and tail in the first place.
I would agree.
Yet the dog was separate from the tail
Before I pointed out their inverse relationship.
If you would pass my tail and its dog off as foolishness
Then I would ask you about you and your head;
Indeed you and your body.
Possession requires distinction.
If you have a head,
Please, show it to me!
And don't try pointing to yourself!
If you *are* a head, how can you have one?
And if you insist upon pointing to yourself
Then I would ask you:
Do you have your head
Or does your head have you?
I have no head.
I *am* a head.
My dog *is* a tail.
Furthermore, my head *is* me.
Thus, *my tail is a dog*.
copyright 1999, a taoist city monk (nagasiva yronwode)