The New Year Comes and Finds Its Seat
A poem given at the New Year’s Day Ceremony
The New Year comes to the West a little late,
because it is coming past the East.
So very hungry and thirsty. “I want food.”
Quickly eats something. “Oh, very salty —
This is salt.
Ah, here is honey.
Oh, very sweet.
Where is the bread?’
The bread says, “Don’t touch me. Who are you?”
“I am the New Year.”
”Are you? I don’t believe you.”
“Why don’t you believe me?”
“How can I believe you?
I don’t know the New Year.
Where are you coming from!”
“I don’t know.”
‘So I cannot believe you.
If you want food, you must find your seat.”
“What am I?
Where is my seat?
I don’t know.”
The New Year asks the dog,
“Do you know the New Year?”
“Woof! Woof! Woof!”
The dog only understands woof New Year.
Next, the New Year asks the cat,
“Do you understand the New Year?”
“Meow. Meow. Meow.”
The cat only understands meow New Year.
But the New Year is thinking about woof and meow not new, not old.
Everyday woof, woof.
Everyday meow, meow.
No new, no old.
The New Year cannot find itself and its seat.
At that time, two people are fighting:
“The New Year is not necessary.”
“The New Year is necessary.
If there is no New Year, how can we understand age?”
“In our true self. there is no life, no death.
If you’re attached to age, then you have life and death.”
“But the New Year came in today.
Who made the New Year? God?”
“No, no, no.”
“No, no, no.”
“Time is empty.
So the New Year is not the New Year.
The New Year is also empty, only made by your thinking.
So the New Year is not necessary.”
Hearing this, the New Year loses itself.
So the New Year asks Zen Master Duk Sahn,
”Do you understand the New Year?”
”Where are you coming from?”
”I’m from time.”
”Time? Time comes from where?”
The Zen Master only hits the New Year.
At that time, the New Year completely understands NOTHING, nothing at all.
No time, no New Year, no name, no form, complete emptiness.
“Then, what am I?
‘Happy New Year! Happy New Year!’ ”
The New Year is confused.
But everybody says, “Happy New Year!”
“What shall I do?”
So he asks another Zen Master, Lin Chi,
“I am the New Year. Where is my seat?”
Lin Chi Zen Master shouts, “KATZ!!!” Keep clear mind!”
”Aha! Now I understand!
Keep clear mind.
Everything is just like this.
Keep clear mind.”
“Nice day today. Happy New Year.
The sky is blue. The snow is white.
Just like this.”
My seat is everywhere.
The whole universe is my seat.
The New Year is everywhere.”
The New Year is dancing around.
But a little child is laughing,
”Ha, ha, ha. You’re a fool.
You still don’t know your seat.”
The New Year is surprised.
“My seat is everywhere!”
“No, no, no!”
”Oh? Then where is my seat?”
”One more step. Come in here.”
She points to a calendar. “January 1, 1977.
That is your seat.”
At that time, popcorn, ice cream,
bread, cookies, cake, bananas,
apples, oranges, tea, drinks,
music — la, la, la, la, la, la.