The Third Body

I spoke in Inquiry (July 29) about the three bodies — Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya — how all of the manifestations of awakening are evident in these two poems and the connecting vows from Mark and Carrie's wedding. These are intimate expressions of universal truths.

The Third Body

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do not long
At this moment to be older, or younger, or born
In any other nation, or any other time, or any other place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking.
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know.
The man sees the way his fingers move;
He sees her hands close around a book she hands to him.
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have promised to love that body.
Age may come; parting may come; death will come!
A man and a woman sit near each other;
As they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.

by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999

After reading and reflecting on this first poem, I suggested that everyone say these vows together as if they were speaking from the Buddha within to the parts that manifest in our own bodies:

In you (focusing on yourself), I recognize a gift.
I accept this offering
and embrace our coming together.
To you I offer my
presence, respect, love and kindness.
I trust what is, and what is becoming,
in the constant and the transforming.
May we live this mystery with lightness and joy.

by Carrie and Mark (2008)

After our chanting and reflections, I then offered this Sufi poem as a further teaching on the fullness of the three bodies:

The Unbroken

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound,
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside,
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
by Rashani (Sufi poet)

This is an image I captured of Mark and Carrie in the recent Lake District retreat just this past May.

Carrie and Mark