Zen Poetry

Zen Master Ryokan

From Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf translated by John Stevens

Thoughts

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd’s purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.
no-mind

 

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don’t know others,
Others don’t know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature’s course.

Lazy

Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days’ worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

 


 

 

The following are all from: Beyond Self: 108 Korean Zen Poems

by Ko Un

THE HERMIT

Jang Ku-Song the hermit was busy shitting
when he heard frogs croaking. It made him
recite

The croaking of frogs on moonlit nights in early spring
pierces the world from end to end, makes us all
one family.

Look, if you’ve had your shit,
wipe yourself and get out of here.

THE LOTUS SUTRA

The Lotus Sutra. Ultimate reality.
So far
you’ve been bashing me badly.
Now
I’ll cudgel you, bastard.
Oh! Ouch!
Take that too.
Oh! Ouch!
Oh! Ouch!

The Lotus Sutra dashed away.
Fields open wide, once the farmers
have gone.
A SMILE

Shakyamuni held up a lotus
so Kashyapa smiled.
Not at all.
The lotus smiled
so Kashyapa smiled.

Nowhere was Shakyamuni!

WHY KILL?

Let be. Please, let be.
Kill Buddha
if you meet him?
Kill mother and father
if you meet them? Why kill?
Things made of clay all fall to bits
once soaked by monsoon rains.

ANANDA

Even Shakyamuni could never tame Ananda
but Kashyapa kicked him out and tamed him.
Throw away all you know.
Throw away all you don’t know.
Then and only then one star shines bright.

A SHOOTING STAR

Wow! You recognized me.

 

More Zen writings on Allspirit

Leave a Reply