Poems by Zen Master Hsu Yun: Series IV
Returning to Mount Gu Meeting with Master Gu Yue (Master Ancient Moon)
For thirty years I've traveled. At last I return to this village.
One bamboo walking stick and I'm back to old Spring days spent here.
As cold smoke encases fine mist
Sparse stands of bamboo surround this ethereal mystic.
Suddenly things are strange and dreamlike.
We discuss deep perceptions, chatting like close relatives,
Talking and talking throughout the moonlit night,
Confessing those past concerns that brought us to our meeting here
An Autumn Night Sitting with Fine Friends High in
a Tall Building (the Cen Mansion).
To look at the colors this time of year is good.
To look at them while dining in a penthouse is even better.
We open the window and peak at the new crescent moon
And let simmered tea wash down our old worries.
The bunch of us linger, undisturbed, singing for our supper.
There are no other customers around.
It's cold and we're all in threadbare robes;
But still we "pass around the lamp" of witty conversation
And a little too bravely discuss the coming winter.
Strong Feelings Remembering the Way It Was When I First Started Out
For more than sixty years I've moved forward with my work.
It's time for a new direction: up!
I'm heading for the bright clouds at the mountain top.
The sword of my mind won't leave desires standing.
I'll hack to pieces those Three Mistaken Worlds
And with bare hands plough up perceptions' worthless weeds.
Life is a bitter ocean,
Yet drink it dry to find the Pearl of Heaven!
Don't worry about time and space
Smash the moon! It still comes back!
Cast your net into the sky
Both Phoenix and Dragon will fall into the web!
But walk alone...
The solitary soul can take whate'er fate brings.
In Response to Layman MA Guanyuan for a Special Verse
I don't carry a gentleman's lute
Or own a longevity crane.
I'm as undistinguished as smoke
And casual as sunset clouds.
Scattered and low.
Scattered and low.
Sometimes I roam along Bilu Peak
Or lounge around Maitreya's Court.
Who needs seven hundred lifetimes?
Who needs to be the houseguest of an Immortal?
You can measure what's empty or catch hold of the wind;
But the hardships of an ascetic monk are beyond reckoning.
You can move an entire mountain or shrink a great distance;
But nobody can plumb the depths of spiritual emptiness.
In the space of just a single thought
A thousand years can be speeded up or stopped.
But the distance light travels in those thousand years
Wouldn't reach the limits of a monk's travails.
I could have been a deckhand
And traveled all the seas;
Or else a simple laborer,
A porter with a pole.
What if I had been born noble and wealthy?
Shakya was; but he rejected that
And so would I. Ah. Ah.
So I don't carry a gentleman's lute
Or walk around with longevity cranes.
I just go, scattered and low, scattered and low.
As obscure as smoke and casual as those sunset clouds.
For Mr. HE Jingtian, a Layman of Great Compassion
Once, he competed for reputation,
And struggled for advantage in the world
As the Chu and the Han chased each other through the Gates of Qin.
Yet, in a nap, no longer than it takes to cook millet,
In a brief dream, he entered that peerless realm of emptiness.
This hero who solved the riddle of the world!
This man who sleeps as well on featherbed or grass!
Who copes with all the world's events
And doesn't calculate priorities.
With empty hand does he command the yin and yang of time.
It's so hard for the Buddha to save us!
We take a wrong turn a thousand times.
Those who truly crave liberation
Must quickly take advantage of their time.
The Buddha's words will shine like the white moon,
Illuminating the path that's otherwise unlit.
The Temple Bell will awaken the sincere but sleeping...
Dong... Dong... again, again, it calls.
Think about the chances! Born as human beings!
Intelligent and strong! But our minds are seared with troubles
And we're desperate for refuge from ourselves.
I've learned the teachings of the Dharma
And store that knowledge in my heart.
Guarding it keeps me safely here at home.
I know that what seems to exist came out of nowhere.
And what seems to disappear, never went away.
Appearing and vanishing - the illusions of coming and going.
Another illusion, a sadder one, is that we two human beings
Can ever stay together long.
For Mr. Hua Yenjing at Fenglin Temple: An Admonishment Against
Upset Over A Monk's Broken Porcelain Bowl
I've got a piece of porcelain.
I value it at more than a hundred billion yen.
When I show it, its brightness fills all space.
When I put it away, it leaves not a trace.
At night it's the light within books.
Open or closed, the books contain that shining.
My porcelain can't be burned by raging fire.
The greatest flood can't sweep it off or drown it.
The smartest thief can't steal it and
The cleverest of ghosts can't spirit it away.
My porcelain is the Dragon Maiden's Pearl
More valuable than several cities' worth of Jade.
It might be fit to display in Maitreya's Hall
Or on a pedestal in front of Duobao Pagoda.
Inside my porcelain bowl there's dazzling light
Outside there's just the luster of the bright clear moon
No less than the famous Pearl of Mani
It can shine through a crack and fill the Empty Realm.
There are too many details to explain.
If your tray is too full you can't carry it.
As well as I'm able, I've tried to direct you.
When you grasp this yourself, you'll know what I mean.
Years Months Days Hours
One year and then another.
Appearances gradually change.
Bone marrow shrivels.
Eyebrows thin away.
This time-limited body is like a mound of slurry.
In the Triple World, earth, air, fire and water mingle and change.
This is all our emotions allow us to notice
And their sight obstructs our view of Heaven.
One month and then another.
The light and dark pass like melting snow.
No part can be kept for long.
Only the Dharma does not come or go.
The lacquer bowl suddenly breaks.
You are like the Dragon of Heaven - born to be lively and free.
A roc can't live in a crane's nest.
A little jiaoliao bird needs to stay near mosquito ponds.
One day and then another.
They never wear themselves out.
Give up your judgments about everything.
It's all insubstantial in the end.
All things under the sun come to an end and dissolve.
Spend what time you have in honest simplicity.
Just one breath of the Eternal
Admits you to the Great Chamber.
One hour and then another.
Inexorably march, step by step.
Whenever I meet you, we each smile.
But who is it who drags your corpse around?
Steadfast and unchangeable
Always mindful of this or that.
You're young and strong. Exert yourself!
Don't wait... oh please don't wait
Until you're much too old and weak.
For Madame Reverend Qing: (Declining her request that he return
the funerals of his wife and his mother.)
I've been fifty years a monk.
My body's bent over
And my pallid face shows my long companionship
With acrid smoke.
Everything changes. People come and go.
Even mountains do not stay the same.
Mulberry trees used to thrive in these parts,
Now their soft dark green is nowhere found.
If we let them, griefs would pile up in our hearts.
The Buddha taught us Chan, the way of Emptiness,
The way to keep things fresh and clean.
My mind settled and alone in contemplation.
Half a century the affairs of life continued.
Take time away from them!
The ways of this world won't transport you
To the Land of Peace.
Don't make distinctions - what's mine or yours.
Don't divide things - what you have and what you don't
Mixed Miscellaneous Song
What good is talking about the future or the past?
It can't change the unchangeable.
What's the difference between leaving home
Or coming here to live in a monastery?
Where can you go that you can't see the moon?
Where can you go that you won't find flowers?
Where there's sky, there's a moon.
Where there's earth, flowers grow.
Carry a lute. Make up your own songs.
You don't need to study other people's music.
Guide your feet until they move in step
With nothing more glorious than a white ox cart.
Unburden yourself. Empty your hands of impediments.
Meditate fiercely! And just when you want to rest
The Lotus Flower will open
And you'll be sitting on the Precious Throne.
Response to a poem by Liao Zhao of Mount Wei
We wander through Illusion, the World of Defilements.
We're like a man who climbs a tree trying to catch a swimming carp.
We go rolling along with ordinary dust
Blown to wherever the wind takes us.
Then, suddenly, a bath is prepared for us!
We're washed in the water of Caoxi!
Hui Neng's own clothes are laid out for us.
How intricate are the ways of the world!
How impossible to believe. How impossible to doubt!