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Tyger Tyger

imageTyger Tyger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger
William Blake


Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

The Lamb
William Blake
William Blake, mystic of the 18th century, wrote this poem, we are told, to explore good and evil, experience and innocence and the paradox between them.

In Sangharakshita’s Creative Symbols of The Tantric Path he suggests that one can see experience in terms of energy and that no energy, in and of itself is either good or bad. The Buddhist perspective is not one of good and evil but rather of skilful and unskilful.

In Blakes poems above he explores the creationist myth that a good and beneficent God put both the lamb and the tiger on the planet and uses the former as metaphor for innocence/good as a juxtaposition to experience/evil, a Gong-an (Koan in Japanese) of sorts.

Gong-an practise is a Chan practise of sometimes non sensical, often paradoxical statements, stories or anecdotes which are used to create Great Doubt, or an attitude of, ‘don’t know’.

Most people are already so full of ideas, theories and beliefs about how ‘things’ are it is impossible for them to see how ‘things’ actually are. Perhaps, and possibly somewhat paradoxically, it is only when you know that you truly don’t know anything can you be said to be on the spiritual path at all.

Not knowing creates receptivity, interest a sense of mystery and inquiry. It brings us into the moment and face to face with raw experience, with reality, up close, personal and un-mediated by our thoughts and feelings about it.

Maybe the most effective Gong-an are the apparent dichotomies within or from our own lives. To quote another Buddhist poet…

The only Gong-an that matters… Is you (Ikkyu)

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