Thoreau

Henry the Buddhist

by Amy Belding Brown

Oh, Henry was a Buddhist
on that we can agree
for didn't he meditate on Truth
and sit beneath a tree?

I'll bet he got enlightenment
when he was still quite green.
I doubt he climbed through windows
when a door was to be seen.

He refused the best home comforts
of which he was so fond,
and boldly shunned society
to sit next to a pond.

What greater proof does one require
when a true Buddhist is sought
than spotting some enlightened soul
sitting quiet, doing naught?

One has no need for models
of morality and good
when virtue's sole requirement is
carry water and chop wood.

If a bowl is just a simple bowl
until it's something more
and then it's just a bowl again --
pray, what is thinking for?

If this doesn't sound like Henry
it's probably 'cause he tossed
his Buddhist Transcendental speech
and it's forever lost.

Now some might pause to wonder
how such a thing could be --
a Buddhist son of Calvinists
in the nineteenth century?

But Henry T. of Concord
was unlike all the rest.
And telling others what he thought
is the game we love the best.

P.S.
I hope Buddhists have humor
and can laugh at my small joke.
How sad 'twould be if Christian
was the sole faith we could poke!

November 18, 2002

Copyright © Amy Belding Brown