Saturday, September 11, 2010

dark pines and strange rocks remain unknown to those who look for mind with mind

The ancients entered mountains in search of the Way
their daily practice revolved around their bodies
they tied heavy stones to their waists to hull rice
they carried their hoes in the rain to plant pines
it goes without saying they moved dirt and rocks
and never stopped hauling firewood and water
the slackers who wear a robe to get food
don't hang around an old Zen monk
Everything's growth depends on old roots
why argue about who's tall or short
the road to success is a tunnel of fire
the door to buddhahood is a wall of ice
my hut sits alone among brambles and weeds
the cloudy Isle of Penglai is a crane's universe
my hair has turned white in the cliffs and gorges
how often have I leaned on a fence rail till dark
I moved to the cliffs in order to practice
I didn't need others to judge my faults
when natures are simple old habits end
when thoughts are pure awareness arises
planting pines and weeding have strengthened my body
reading sutras and sewing have sharpened my sight
the world's anomalies are funny indeed
the refugees of Ch'in are called hermits too
I searched creation without success 
by chance I found this forested peak
my thatched hut pokes through clouds and sky
the moss-slick trail cuts through bamboo
favor and shame arouse the ambitious
I grow old on the stillness of Zen
dark pines and strange rocks remain unknown
to those who look for mind with mind
~ Stonehouse
translated by Red Pine
art by Wang Chien

43.  In his Peach Blossom Spring, T'ao Yuan-ming tells the story of a group of people fleeing the oppressive rule of the Ch'in dynasty, which unified China in 221 BC.  In the course of their flight, these refugees discovered a hidden valley.  When a fisherman stumbled onto their sanctuary several hundred years later, he found a peaceful farming community.  Eventually the fisherman returned to his own village and told others about his discovery.  But the refugees obliterated the traces he left to mark his route, and their valley was never found again.