About The Book
Capturing in verse the ageless spirit of Zen, these 150 poems reflect the insight of famed masters from the ninth century to the nineteenth. The translators, in collaboration with Zen Master Taigan Takayama, have furnished illuminating commentary on the poems and arranged them as to facilitate comparison between the Chinese and Japanese Zen traditions. The poems themselves, rendered in clear and powerful English, offer a unique approach to Zen Buddhism, “compared with which,” as Lucien Stryk writes, “the many disquisitions on its meaning are as dust to living earth. We see in these poems, as in all important religious art, East or West, revelations of spiritual truths touched by a kind of divinity.”
“One of the most intimate and dynamic books yet published on Zen.”—Sanford Goldstein, Arizona Quarterly
“The excellent [volume] is a fine introduction to Chinese and Japanese Zen poetry for all readers.”—Choice
The mountain slopes crawl with lumberjacks,
Axing everything in sight–Yet crimson flowers
Burn along the stream.
Rolling the bamboo blind, I
Look out at the world–what change!
Should someone ask what I’ve discovered,
I’ll smash this whisk against his mouth.
–Chokei, d. 932
All’s harmony, yet everything is separate.
Once confirmed, mastery is yours.
Long I hovered on the Middle Way,
Today the very ice shoots flame.
Nansen said: It’s everywhere.
Today, here at home, I’m through the Gate!
It seems just everything’s a dear old grandpa.
The good grandchild, turning, burns with shame.
–Chosha, 9 c.
Every thing, every place is real,
Each particle makes up Original Man.
Still, the absolutely real is voiceless,
The true body’s majestically out of sight.