Six Poems on Living in the Mountains
I’ve got a little picture in my mind of a clean and quiet place.
Everywhere you look it’s completely natural.
The house is made of plaited rushes.
There’s a good half-acre for growing tubers and flowers.
Beautiful birds perch on cliffs
That encase a few clouds that hang around green peaks.
The world’s red dust won’t be able to get up here.
Simple elegance is better than saintliness or spirituality.
Can joy be found in the mountains?
Let me tell you. There’s more joy in the mountains
Than anywhere else.
Pines and bamboos perform sacred chants.
The songs of Sheng flutes are played by birds.
In the trees, monkeys climb for fruit.
In the ponds, ducks cavort with lotus lilies.
This escape from the ordinary world
Month by month and year by year
Eliminates the hindrances to Enlightenment.
Don’t try to stand tall in the courtyards of fame.
In the mountains such dreams fade away.
Your body stands on its own when it’s up with the clouds.
Your heart pulls away from worldly attachments.
The moon that I love clears a path through the pines
And guides a stream right to the bamboo gate.
Naturally, this is nothing short of amazing.
How could you disparage it… or ever tire of the sight?
In the mountains there’s nothing at all which prohibits
Dreams of cooking millet during afternoon naps.
If you’re lazy by nature, you won’t brood about problems.
You’ll make light of the body and won’t fear the cold.
Chrysanthemums grow by the three ancient paths.
A few planted plum trees make the whole yard fragrant.
Engagements are blessedly short.
Leisure is blessedly long.
Just wake up from an afternoon nap in a grass hut.
Drag a walking stick and let it bounce free and easy.
Lean on a rock and watch the clouds rise.
Listen to the pine saplings and hear the sound of waves.
When the forest is dense, no guests pass by.
When the roads are dangerous, they’re only used for gathering firewood.
The place is so pristine and cool
How could it fail to quench my mind’s furnace of cares?
People complain of a hard life in the mountains.
I don’t think it’s much different from the hardships of anywhere else.
A clay oven burning birch twigs,
A stone cauldron boiling wild sprouts.
It seems that you’ve only just picked the chrysanthemums
That grow in the three months of autumn
When it’s time to view the flowers of March.
Pity more the moon that night after night
Is forced to entertain society.
From wiki: “Hsu Yun (Chinese: 虚云; pinyin: Xūyún; born Xiao Guyan Chinese: 萧古巖; 26 August 1840 – 13 October 1959) was a renowned Chán Buddhist master and one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is often noted for his unusually long lifespan, having allegedly lived to age 119….
… Hsu Yun was one of the most influential Chán masters of the past two centuries, and arguably the most important in modern Chinese history. Unlike Catholicism and other branches of Christianity, there was no organization in China that embraced all monastics in China, nor even all monastics within the same sect. Traditionally each monastery was autonomous, with authority resting on each respective abbot. This changed with the rule of the Communist Party. In 1953, the Chinese Buddhist Association was established at a meeting with 121 delegates in Beijing. The meeting also elected a chairman, 4 honorary chairmen, 7 vice-chairmen, a secretary general, 3 deputy secretaries-general, 18 members of a standing committee, and 93 directors. The 4 elected honorary chairmen were the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, the Grand Lama of Inner Mongolia, and Hsu Yun himself.
Though Chán is less well known in the West compared to Japanese Zen, the teachings of Hsu Yun have persisted within Asia, and he is still a major figure of Pure Land Buddhism in East Asia. Outside of China, the influence of his teachings is strongest in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Myanmar, as well as the Americas, where his teachings were transmitted through well known monastic students such as Venerable Hsuan Hua and Venerable Jy Din Shakya and Venerable Fo Yuan shakya.”
Artemis: He had an interesting life. See wiki for more (it’s a fairly detailed account).