April 17, 2014

Poems by Zen Master Hsu Yun: Series V

On Novices being robed for the first time.

The Buddha grieves that we must face such hardship.
He's so lovingly concerned for people like us.

Don't let pretty flowers dazzle your young eyes.
An empty room can't get dusty
And even the lucky favorite is pursued by death.

So don't be too arrogant or impatient,
Take your time and let us show you
How to wrap and tie a monk's robes.

In the beginning, there was no model to follow.
Who knew what needed to be done?
Look! One false move and your tangled up again.
Yes, take your time and let us show you
How to wrap and tie an old monk's robes.

Seeing off a friend on foot

Do you remember how when we were young we soared.
Now, we're old and hobble around on foot.

Then, we were so full of ideas and bold
We even put water in the clouds.
Now we poke at the snow with our walking sticks,
And worry about frost and wind.

Well... you're famous now.
Your literary works are widely known.
Your reputation has reached all the way to the Palace.
The king, I understand, is quite impressed.

Now, living in the mountains meets all my wishes.
I can boast about having known you "then"...
So send me a letter to prove it - and don't forget
To include some of your poignant verse.


The Temple's Guest Room

A guest is entertained in Cunxiang Room.
The meal is meager and we serve water instead of tea.

He doesn't grumble, but he doesn't talk a lot.
He doesn't have much to tell that we don't already know.
There's a constancy about the world's changing news.

But up here, mountain trees support so many rattan vines.
And water wells never fail to slake our thirst.
Time passes so quickly in this secluded place
We barely have enough time to gain enlightenment.

What did he think, this guest who casts aside the Buddha's words?
Did he think that what we had to offer him
Came from the monastery's pantry?


In Praise of Elder Master Gu Ting

Again, I am in the Elder's debt.
Not only have I always filled myself with his treasures
But his visit here tonight has given me a theme for this discourse.

He arrived: A fresh wind blows over an open field.
He arrived: The beautiful sun comes in the morning.
Even golden walls have to respect the wind.

His treasures! He's the very source of Chan!
From his depths issue fortune and wisdom.
With a wish he evaporates oceans of winter grief
And creates a Spring in all the Ten Directions.

Returning to Mount Gu after Forty years' absence to assist
in the Funeral arrangements for Xianglian Gong

This used to be my mountain home.
Now the place and I are strangers.
My hair, all streaked with grey;
The courtyard garden, dry and filled with stunted weeds.

Xianglian Gong and I were old friends,
But we don't recognize each other.
Maybe I retreated too far.

The past keeps rushing up to me.
Confused, I ask myself, "What do I do next?"
I look around, bewildered by so much neglect.
Only then do I notice that tears are running down my cheeks.

Given to Xing Jing, Fellow Member of the Sangha

My home can be anywhere, heaven or earth.
All I need is room in my heart.
And a good source of water, of course.

If I'm on a mountain, I can set my own pace.
Down here, I'm busy now putting away herbs.
But even when I'm not busy I still don't read much.

You need room in your heart... a big empty space
To sort out what's real from what's not.

Crimson Stream Temple

At Crimson Peak the clouds are thickest;
But the mystic's road is clear though it turns
Again and again.

The mountain flowers, glistening with frosty dew,
Reflect the moon;
And safe within the stands of bamboo, a kingfisher bird
Scolds humanity.

At dawn, rain beats a tattoo on the rocks.
In a crazed sortie, the dragon strikes at distant retreats,
Making clouds come in so thick that morning turns to dusk.

By noon there's Armistice!
Sun and peace and a world that's fresh and new.


Passing the Winter at Yunhua but not meeting up with my friend

I came to this place where the trees are confusingly thick.
Suddenly in the arched vault of the forest I found a path.

I passed that stone... the one below the green pavilion.
There was frost on the leaves and the branch tips were bare and red.
Who was it who carved those emotional words in the rock?

I waited. Ah... All feelings,
Are they not just emptiness of "me"?

The Chan gates both rest quietly now
With the plum trees and the grasses
Awaiting the winds of Spring.

On visiting Longhua Temple in Rangoon

From this strategic point, one can control the Southern Seas.
And so a Buddhist Palace was built from a Dragon's Illusion.

Incense floats out from the Golden Pagoda.
The Buddha, himself, seems to appear in the smoke.

The Courtyard buildings are now about to be locked.
The bridge to this place begins to support one end of a jade-like
rainbow.

Here, heaven and man can meet
To honor each other with one sound from the temple bell.


Spring Rain everywhere without end

Long rains - that's the real start of Spring.
Everywhere you look - near or far -
Everything is fresh and new.

The cold grey mountain takes on delicate colors.
The stone steps so washed not a speck of dust remains.

The Willows have decided on their sole purpose:
To soothe your eyes with beauty.
The flowers are still sleeping.
They haven't opened their lips to reveal anything.

There's extra grass growing at the edge of the steps.
It's so eager to please, when you step on it
It yields gently, then springs back,
As if it had merely bowed to you.

 


Baoxi Tiefo Temple in Shanxi

If you walk deep into the forest,
At the edge of the white clouds,
You'll find a temple.

The pines are old - as many years as there are wiggles on a dragon.
The cliffs are too steep even for tigers to sleep on.

As cold day starts to invade the heavens,
The sound of chanted sutras purifies your ears.

Dare I inquire after Old Pang Mei - Old Big Eyebrows?
How long has he managed to live here?

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  • Karin Nordlander

    Niiiiiice !!

  • Sean  - Thank you.

    Thank you for posting Hsu Yun's amazing poetic work.