To the truly foolish,
the wise are foolish.
To the truly wise,
the foolish are foolish.
I see a lot of silly folks
who claim their own small spine’s
Sumeru, the sacred mountain
that supports the world.*
Piss ants, gnawing away at a noble tree,
with never a doubt about their strength.
They chew up a couple of sutras,
and pass themselves off as Masters.
Let them hurry and repent.
From now on no more foolishness.
* as the galactic bulge
See the moon’s bright blaze of light,
a guiding lamp, above the world!
Glittering, it hangs against the void,
a blazing jewel, its brightness through the mist.
Some people say it waxes, wanes;
theirs may, but mine remains
as steady as the mani pearl*…
This light knows neither day nor night.
* representing Buddha-nature, that fulfils all wishes
The Buddhas left their sutras,
just because men are so hard to change.
It’s not just a matter of saintly or stupid,
each and every heart throws up a barricade,
each piles up his own mountain of karma.
How could they guess
that every single thing
they clutch so close is sorrow?
Unwilling to ponder, day and night,
as they embrace the falsehood that is flesh.*
* that is impermanent and unsubstantial
– Master Shih Te (Shide)
Cold Mountain Poems:
Zen Poems Of Han Shan, Shih Te & Wang Fan-chih
Translated By J.P. Seaton