Thursday, November 7, 2019

day after day I let things go



Day after day I let things go
why worry about tomorrow today
the four afflictions are hard to predict
wealth and honor don't last
lakeside villas are swallowed by vines
streamside trails disappear into weeds
such things are easy for all to see
but no one is willing to look


A white-haired monk afflicted with age 
living under thatch year after year
I've exhausted my life on simple passions
my movements all spring from the sacred mind
when birds don't come the mountain is quiet
ten thousand pines keep it dark green
from the kalpa of nothingness it's clear
a miraculous light still shines.


What can you say about profit and fame
to a solitary untroubled mountain monk
weeds of delusion don't grow in the mind 
where flowers of wisdom bloom
bamboo shoots and fiddleheads blanket the slopes
dust seldom falls on moss-covered ground
I was over thirty when I first arrived
how many sunsets have turned my windows red


I was a Zen monk who didn't know Zen
so I chose the woods for the years I had left
a patched robe over my body
braided bamboo around my waist
mountain shade and stream light explain the Patriarch's meaning
flower smiles and bird songs reveal the hidden key
sometimes I sit on flat- topped rocks
cloudfree afternoons once a month

~ Stonehouse
translated by Red Pine
art by Huang Kung-wang (1269-1354)

Stonehouse was born in 1272 in the town of Changshu, not far from where the Yantze empties into the East China Sea.  He took his name from a cave at the edge of town.  The cave was on Yushan, which was named for Yu Chung-wei, whose nephew founded the Chou dynasty in North China around 1100 BC.  Yushan is also known for its pine trees, its rock formations, and its springs, in particular a spring that flows out of a cave as big as a house.  Locals call the cave Shihwutung, or "Stonehouse Cave."

from the introduction to "The Zen Works of Stonehouse"
by Red Pine (Bill Porter)