...life can be translucent


poetry of Han-shan


Apr 17, 2008
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From an anthology of Chinese lit ed by Cyril Birch vol 1
May I share some poetry from the portion of the collection of the period 220-589 bce, a period of turmoil which drove some to seclusion (sounds like the kali yuga we are now in)
Of the recluse Han-shan, meaning Cold Mountain, a buddhist monk or taoist mystic of whom little is known,
here are some verses from cold mountain, a state of mind as a place to dwell ...
The path to Han-shan's place is laughable,
a path but no sign of cart or horse
Converging gorges-hard to trace their twists
Jumbled cliffs-unbelievably rugged
A thousand grasses bend with dew
A hill of pines hums in the wind.
And now I've lost the shortcut home,
Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?
In a tangle of cliffs I chose a place
Bird paths, but no trails for men
What's beyond the yard?
White clouds clinging to vague rocks.
Now I've lived here how many years-
again and again spring and winter pass
Go tell families with silverware and cars
"What's the use of all that noise and money?"
Man ask the way to Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain: there's no through trail.
In summer, ice doesn't melt
The rising sun blurs in swirling fog
How did I make it?
My heart's not the same as yours.
If your heart was like mine
You'd get it and be right here.
There's a naked bug at Cold Mountain
With a white body and a black head
His hand holds two book-scrolls
One the Way and one its Power
His shack's got no pots or oven,
He goes for a walk with his shirt and pants askew
But he always carries the sword of wisdom:
He means to cut down senseless craving
If I hide out at Cold Mountain
Living off mountain plants and berries
All my lifetime, why worry?
One follows his karma through.
Days and months slip by like water,
Time is like sparks knocked off flint.
Go ahead and let the world change
I'm happy to sit among these cliffs.
Some critic tried to put me down
"Your poems lack the Basic Truth of Tao"
And I recall the old-timers
Who were poor and didn't care
I have to laugh at him
He misses the point entirely
Men like that
Ought to stick to making money
I've lived at Cold Mountain-how many autumns
Alone, I hum a song-utterly without regret
Hungry, I eat one grain of Immortal-medicine
Mind solid and sharp; leaning on a stone
On top of Cold Mountain the lone round moon
Lights the whole clear cloudless sky
Honor this priceless natural treasure
Concealed in five shadows, sunk deep in the flesh
My home was at Cold Mountain from the start
Rambling among the hills, far from trouble.
Gone, and a million things leave no trace
Loosed, and it flows through the galaxies
A fountain of light, into the very mind-
Not a thing, and yet it appears before me:
Now I know the pearl of the Buddha-nature
Know its use: a boundless perfect sphere.
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