Daigu Ryokan Renderings

walkingWhen all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd’s purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don’t know others, Others don’t know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature’s course.

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe;
When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report to my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after
so many things.

A cold night – sitting alone in my empty room
Filled only with incense smoke.
Outside, a bamboo grove of a hundred trees;
On the bed several volumes of poetry.
The moon shines from the top of the window,
And the entire neighborhood is still except for the cry of insects.
Looking at this scene, limitless emotion,
But not one word.

The rain has stopped, the clouds have drifted away,
and the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the way.

At night, deep in the mountains I sit in zazen.
The affairs of men never reach here.
In the stillness I sit on a cushion across from the empty window.
The incense has been swallowed up by the endless night;
My robe has become a garment of white dew.
Unable to sleep, I walk into the garden;
Suddenly, above the highest peak, the round moon appears.

First days of spring…..blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
my begging trip to an end by the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;
Then it’s my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
“What is the reason for such foolishness?”
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing besides this.

Autumn night… unable to sleep, I leave my tiny cottage.
Fall insects cry under the rocks, and
The cold branches are sparsely covered.
Far away, from deep in the valley, the sound of water.
The moon rises slowly over the highest peak;
I stand there quietly for a long time and
My robe becomes moist with dew.

The night is fresh and cool,
Staff in hand I walk through the gate.
Wisteria and ivy grow together along the winding mountain path;
Birds sing quietly in their nests and a monkey howls nearby.
As I reach a high peak a village appears in the distance.
The old pines are full of poems;
I bend down for a drink of pure spring water.
There is a gentle breeze, and the round moon hangs overhead.
Standing by a deserted building,
I pretend to be a crane softly floating among the clouds…

My life may appear melancholy,
But travelling through this world
I have entrusted myself to Heaven.
In my sack, three sho of rice;
By the hearth, a bundle of firewood.
If someone asks what is the mark of enlightenment or illusion,
I cannot say… wealth and honor are nothing but dust,
As the evening rain falls I sit in my hermitage
And stretch out both feet in answer.

An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill, 
Overrun with rank weeks growing unchecked year after year; 
There is no one left to tend the tomb, 
And only an occasional woodcutter passes by. 
Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair, 
Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River. 
One morning I set off on my solitary journey 
And the years passed between us in silence. 
Now I have returned to find him at rest here; 
How can I honor his departed spirit? 
I pour a dipper of pure water over his tombstone 
And offer a silent prayer. 
The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill 
And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines. 
I try to pull myself away but cannot; 
A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.

In my youth I put aside my studies 
And I aspired to be a saint. 
Living austerely as a mendicant monk, 
I wandered here and there for many springs. 
Finally I returned home to settle under a craggy peak. 
I live peacefully in a grass hut, 
Listening to the birds for music. 
Clouds are my best neighbors. 
Below a pure spring where I refresh body and mind; 
Above, towering pines and oaks that provide shade and brushwood. 
Free, so free, day after day — 
I never want to leave!

Yes, I’m truly a dunce 
Living among trees and plants. 
Please don’t question me about illusion and enlightenment — 
This old fellow just likes to smile to himself. 
I wade across streams with bony legs, 
And carry a bag about in fine spring weather. 
That’s my life, 
And the world owes me nothing.

No luck today on my mendicant rounds; 
From village to village I dragged myself. 
At sunset I find myself with miles of mountains between me and my hut. 
The wind tears at my frail body, 
And my little bowl looks so forlorn — 
Yes this is my chosen path that guides me 
Through disappointment and pain, cold and hunger.

This treasure was discovered in a bamboo thicket — 
I washed the bowl in a spring and then mended it. 
After morning meditation, I take my gruel in it; 
At night, it serves me soup or rice. 
Cracked, worn, weather-beaten, and misshapen 
But still of noble stock!

I watch people in the world 
Throw away their lives lusting after things, 
Never able to satisfy their desires, 
Falling into deeper despair 
And torturing themselves. 
Even if they get what they want 
How long will they be able to enjoy it? 
For one heavenly pleasure 
They suffer ten torments of hell, 
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone. 
Such people are like monkeys 
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water 
And then falling into a whirlpool. 
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.
Despite myself, I fret over them all night 
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

Fresh morning snow in front of the shrine.
The trees! Are they white with peach blossoms
Or white with snow?
The children and I joyfully throw snowballs.

Where beauty is, then there is ugliness;
where right is, also there is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent;
delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
Since olden times it has been so.
How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other
is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.
Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,
how do you deal with each thing changing?

One comment

  • Nantictac3

    I am in love with your beautiful poem! Birds singing IS music to my ears as I watch and admire the clouds go by. Many of the words describe exactly how I feel, and I’m so happy that there is someone else who finds joy this way! “The clouds are my best neighbors,” and I’ve always been happy to know that the world owes me nothing.” I keep rereading it!

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