Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Your song

  1. #1

    Your song

    I would like to share a poem with you. This poem was translated by Taigen Daniel Leighton and is part of a terrific book for Dharma freaks Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi (Tuttle Library of Enlightenment),The Song of the grass hut was written a long time ago by Sekito Kisen, our Chinese ancestor who you are already familiar with because you are studying another poem he wrote, the Sandokai, a part of the daily chanting menu of all Soto Zen temples. Of course, I was trained as a big headed scholar but I am not into explanations and complicated philosophy anymore (still love it, I must confess) I just wanted to share with you a bit of my experience with Zen poems. How can one make use of this Zen poem? What to do with a Zen poem? Pretty useless thing actually. Poems, and Zen poems especialy, are good for nothing (that's why we like them, we can't buy anything with them, cheap things, they are as free as the wind or poppies in summer) You may first give it a loud rendition but not as a sacred something. Just as you would welcome a vistor, having a friend for tea. Nothing special or holy here. And then, get on with your life, and... forget it. A great part of our practice is to forget: forgetting is allowing, the poem will come back and permeate your vision of dogs, buses and supermarket shelves, it will just make all these living poems more obvious to you, and you will see beauty in simple stuff, bits and bobs, for wonder will be your friend.The poem will turn into flesh and bones and light and darkness, as you live-sit-go-come-go, just read and forget. Of course, you may study it and discuss it ( and pleaaaaase, share your impressions below!!!), it is rather easy to grasp that it is all about the core practice of our school: just sitting. A big chunk of Fukanzazengi is already written there. But I must say I still prefer the grass hut to the treasure room...and what Jundo teaches all the time, you know the "when you let the Samsara be the Samsara...", well, just read the four last verses. If you ever doubted it, I think those two are talking about excatly the same good old-new thing!

    The song of the grass hut

    ?I?ve built a grass hut where there?s nothing of value.
    After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
    When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
    Now it?s been lived in, covered by weeds.
    The person in the hut lives here calmly,
    not stuck to inside, outside, or in-between.
    Places worldly people live, he doesn?t live.
    Realms worldly people love, she doesn?t love.
    Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
    In ten feet square, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
    A Mahayana bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
    The middling or lowly can?t help wondering;
    Will this hut perish or not?
    Perishable or not, the original master is present,
    Not dwelling south or north, east or west.
    Firmly based on steadiness, it can?t be surpassed.
    A shining window below the green pines —
    Jade palaces or vermilion towers can?t compare with it.
    Just sitting with head covered all things are at rest.
    Thus, this mountain monk doesn?t understand at all.
    Living here he no longer works to get free.
    Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
    Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
    The vast inconceivable source can?t be faced or turned away from.
    Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instructions,
    Bind grasses to build a hut, and don?t give up.
    Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
    Open your hands and walk, innocent.
    Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
    Are only to free you from obstructions.
    If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
    Don?t separate from this skin bag here and now.

    Shitou Xiqian (Sekito Kisen; 700-790)

  2. #2

    Re: Your song

    I read a different translation of that poem a while back, and wrote this one in response. I have difficulty commenting on poetry with anything other than more poetry-

    there is no morning sunrise
    no hilltop pine
    no river no path
    no door no floor no mine

    gassho
    tobi-ishi

    Also, it reminds me of this one by Ikkyu

    Though servility
    may bring pleasure, rather
    without falsehood and deception
    would I dwell in poverty
    with my heart cradled in peace.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    san diego california
    Posts
    198

    Re: Your song

    Taigu, while I re-read and ponder the Sekito Kisen poem, I must say, your introduction was a lovely poem in itself. Gassho Kent

  4. #4

    Re: Your song

    Hi.

    No here.
    No there.
    The student is present.
    As is the master.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  5. #5
    Myoshin
    Guest

    Re: Your song

    The last line made me laugh a bit, but it also conveys a rather true home hitting message. I really like the simplicity that is within the text. By adding Jade palaces and other items of grandeur, I believe one is diluting life. Not to say that life cannot be without nice things, but the items which are already provided should not be forgotten. Just my thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent
    I must say, your introduction was a lovely poem in itself.
    Agreed .


    Padre,

    It is your room.

    Gassho,

    Kyle

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    1,220

    Re: Your song

    Inspired by the above poem (among a host of other things)

    The Parable of the Lowly Hut

    There once was a man that lived in a grass hut. It was not a pretty grass hut, but it did not leak or come down in storms, thus providing the man a safe place to live. The man’s grass hut was not big, only large enough for him and a few of his possessions. Every morning the man left his grass hut and everywhere he looked he saw all sorts of beautiful homes. There were large and small homes, beautiful and modest homes, homes with yards, and even homes with other homes attached to them. All these homes were made of wood or stone or brick, not grass like his little hut. The man thought that every single one of the homes he saw was much better his little hut. So every evening when the man came home he would decry his lowly hut and desire a nice home to replace it.

    For reasons beyond his comprehension, the man was unable to move from his hut, so he decided he would turn it into a home by upgrading it. Unfortunately, he was not very skilled, as every time he tried to build an attached room to his house it would fall down. Every time he would try to strengthen the grass walls with wood or stone or brick, the walls would not stand. No matter what he tried, nothing worked. But his grass hut remained standing through it all, always providing a safe and secure place to be.

    The man eventually gave up on trying to turn his hut into a home, because no matter what he tried it didn’t work. Instead, he started to fantasize all the time about how nice it would be to have a home. He bought magazines that showed beautiful homes and watched TV shows about beautiful homes, but this just made him even more frustrated with his lowly hut. So he would leave his hut and drive all around the town looking at all the wonderful homes that were not his and would never be his, and then this made him even more frustrated.

    While his hut remained unsatisfactory, his life outside the hut went quite well. He was well-respected in his profession, moved up the ranks, and generally liked and admired by all his colleagues and those in his surrounding community. All of this was gratifying to the man while out and about during his busy days, but every evening when he would come home to his lowly hut he would think to himself, “I am a good man doing good things, so why don’t I have a good home like everyone else? I deserve better!”

    At what the man felt was the height of his frustration, he decided he would give up his hut, just leave it behind. He felt that since his work life was so good, he would just live at work. This seemed like a very fine idea; everything about work was worthwhile, and everything about his hut was worthless. He made plans to leave his hut and found the prospect of doing so harder than he realized, but he had fortitude and believed his decision was the correct one, even after long and careful contemplation. He was a very rational man making a rational choice.

    Moving day finally arrived. Everything the man needed for his future life at work was packed and ready to go, and everything having to do with his past life in the lowly hut remained there to be left behind. Resolute, he stepped over the threshold, paused, thought for a minute, nodded approval for his actions, and took a few more steps. Then he did a full stop and put all his bags down. He suddenly felt very confused and very sad. Everything in his mind told him this was the right thing to do, but his heart told him something was very wrong. All he wanted was a life filled with satisfaction, and leaving his unsatisfying hut behind was a way to achieve this. Or was it?

    He walked back inside saying, "I can’t leave this. This isn’t a lowly hut. This is my home! This is where I live! It provides for me all that I need. All that I want is extra. I add it on, just like I tried to add on to this home of mine. But adding on doesn’t work because it would never have made it more my home. Satisfaction is right here and has been all along. I just never saw it, until now when I tried to leave it behind. Other people have their homes, and that’s fine, but this is my home, and it is also fine, uniquely so.”

    The man smiled deeply as he looked around his new home. “Hmm,” he said, “this place needs some attention.”

  7. #7
    Senior Member rculver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio Area (Northern Kentucky)
    Posts
    1,623

    Re: Your song

    Thanks for the story Alan. Good timing.

    Ron

  8. #8

    Re: Your song

    Poems are usually associated with the person who wrote them. However, they are talking about something that is deeper than mere words. Something that each of us shares. You know me better than me.

    These poems talk to our true nature. That nature which abides in each one of us. We don't really know what it is. Sometimes we worry about grammar. Sometimes we focus on the technique. All the technicalities are just that.

    I would prefer a poem that is written with a simple mind involved, then a poem of the utmost technique showing one's ability. A poem that speaks true. A poem that is. If written with care any poem is a poem.

    When Royokan, Ikkyu, Basho, and so on write, they are writing to you. To you personally. They are writing in our place; about what we have, but do not yet understand.


    Gassho

  9. #9

    Re: Your song

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Poems are usually associated with the person who wrote them. However, they are talking about something that is deeper than mere words. Something that each of us shares. You know me better than me.

    These poems talk to our true nature. That nature which abides in each one of us. We don't really know what it is. Sometimes we worry about grammar. Sometimes we focus on the technique. All the technicalities are just that.

    I would prefer a poem that is written with a simple mind involved, then a poem of the utmost technique showing one's ability. A poem that speaks true. A poem that is. If written with care any poem is a poem.

    When Royokan, Ikkyu, Basho, and so on write, they are writing to you. To you personally. They are writing in our place; about what we have, but do not yet understand.


    Gassho
    bingo.

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    2,937

    Re: Your song

    Wow. Thank you very much Taigu.
    As already said just you intro was a beautiful poem. I am not overly scholarly in linguistics or even have an affinity towards understanding poetry or poetic structuring or what ever but ... "I knows what i likes!"
    This I likes

    the comments that follow are perfect!! haha i keep seeing the lake feeding the streams running to the ocean!
    of course we all know where this statement ends up taking us. Just my thought as i scrolled over the thread before reading.

    Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instructions,
    Bind grasses to build a hut, and don?t give up.
    Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
    Open your hands and walk, innocent.
    Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,

    is perfect!! fits so snug today!!

    Gassho and thank you!!
    Shohei

  11. #11

    Re: Your song

    Open your hands and walk, innocent.

    that one just got me.....

    people forget to just open their hands and walk...

    might i suggest even more ( or less? )

    open your hands wide open and feel the breeze.

    enjoy!

    Gassho, Daniel.

Similar Threads

  1. New Song
    By will in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-28-2008, 11:47 PM
  2. Milarepa's Song of Realization
    By Skye in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-27-2008, 09:25 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •