Thursday, May 19, 2011

one truth

In all ten directions of the universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost?  What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it-is hiding somewhere near us.
Look: this ball in my pocket:
can you see how priceless it is?


~ Ryokan

Ryokan's love of children and animals is legendary. 
He often played games with the local children, attested to in his own poetry. 

His reputation for gentleness was sometimes carried to comical extremes. 
One tale is told that, one day when Ryokan returned to his hut 
he discovered a robber who had broken in 
and was in the process of stealing the impoverished monk's few possessions. 
In the thief's haste to leave, he left behind a cushion. 
Ryokan grabbed the cushion and ran after the thief to give it to him. 
This event prompted Ryokan to compose one of his best known poems:

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

When Ryokan was 70 and nearing the end of his life, 
he met a young nun and poet named Teishin. 
Though Teishin was only 28, they fell in love. 
They exchanged several beautiful love poems.

As Ryokan was dying, Teishin came to him and held him at his moment of death. 
It was Teishin who collected and published Ryokan's poetry after his death.

with thanks to poetry-chaikhana