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Old 09-01-2015, 04:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
Shoo Thoughts
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Now I turn to Li Bai (sometimes called Li Po), a favourite of mine, and one of China's most famous and beloved poets. The guy had a way with words like few others. Such beautiful imagery. Can only imagine how lovely they must read in their native language. A true genius.

Green Mountain

You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain

I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at leisure

Peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water

Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world


Drinking, I sit,

Lost to Night,

Keep falling petals

From the ground:

Get up to follow

The stream’s white moon,

No sign of birds,

The humans gone.

Lines For A Taoist Adept

My friend lives high on East Mountain.

His nature is to love the hills and gorges.

In green spring he sleeps in empty woodland,

Still there when the noon sun brightens.

Pine-tree winds to dust his hair.

Rock-filled streams to cleanse his senses.

Free of all sound and stress,

Resting on a wedge of cloud and mist.

Mêng Hao-jan

True-Taoist, good friend Mêng,

Your madness known to one and all,

Young you laughed at rank and power.

Now you sleep in pine-tree clouds.

On moonlit nights floored by the Dragon.

In magic blossom deaf to the World.

You rise above - a hill so high.

I drink the fragrance from afar.

Ho Chih-chang

When we met the first time at Ch’ang-an

He called me the ‘Lost Immortal’.

Then he loved the Way of Forgetting.

Now under the pine-trees he is dust.

His golden keepsake bought us wine.

Remembering, the tears run down my cheeks.

Three Poems on Wine


Among the flowers a drink of wine.

I sit alone without a friend.

So I invite the moon,

Then see my shadow, make us three.

The moon can’t know how to drink,

Since just my shadow drinks with me.

The moon brought shadow along

To keep me silent company.

Joy should reflect the season.

I sing. That makes the Moon reel.

Get up. Make my shadow sway.

While I’m here let’s celebrate.

When I’m drunk each seek the Way,

Tie ourselves to Eternal Journeys,

Swear to meet again in the Milky Way.


If the heavens were not in love with wine,

There’d be no Wine Star in the sky.

And if earth wasn’t always drinking,

There’d be nowhere called Wine Spring.

I’ve heard that pure wine makes the Sage.

Even the cloudy makes us wise.

If even the wise get there through drink,

What’s the point of True Religions?

Three times and I understand the Way,

Six and I’m one again with Nature.

Only the things we know when we’re drunk

Can never be expressed when we’re sober.


Third month in Ch’ang-an city,

Knee-deep in a thousand fallen flowers.

Alone in Spring who can stand this sadness?

Or sober see transient things like these?

Long life or short, rich or poor,

Our destiny’s determined by the world.

But drinking makes us one with life and death,

The Myriad Things we can barely fathom.

Drunk, Heaven and Earth are gone.

Stilled, I clutch my lonely pillow.

Forgetting that the Self exists,

That is the mind’s greatest joy.

Lament for Mr Tai

Wine-maker there by Yellow Fountains,

‘Eternal Spring’ that’s still your vintage.

Without Li Po on Night’s Terrace

Who can there be to bring you custom?

Waking from Drunken Sleep on a Spring Day

Life is a dream. No need to stir.

Remembering this I’m drunk all day.

Lying helpless beside the porch,

Waking to see the deep garden.

One bird calls among the flowers.

Ask myself what’s the season?

Song of the oriole in Spring breezes,

Voice of beauty sadly moves me.

Is there wine? Ah, fill the cup.

Sing and watch the white moon rise,

until song’s end and sense is gone.

Drinking in the Mountains

Mountain flowers open in our faces.

You and I are triply lost in wine.

I’m drunk, my friend, sleepy. Rise and go.

With your dawn lute, return, if you wish, and stay.

Old Poem

Did Chuang Tzu dream he was the butterfly?

Or the butterfly dream he was Chuang Tzu?

In the single body’s transformations

See the vortex of the Myriad Creatures.

No mystery then that the Magic Seas

Shrank again to crystal streams,

Or down by Ch’ang-an’s Green Gate

The gardener was Marquis of Tung-Ling.

If this is the fate of fame and power,

What is it for- this endless striving?

The River-Captain’s Wife – A Letter

I with my hair in its first fringe

Romped outside breaking flower-heads.

You galloped by on bamboo horses.

We juggled green plums round the well.

Living in Chang-kan village,

Two small people without guile.

At fourteen I married you sir,

So bashful I could only hide,

My frowning face turned to the wall.

Called after - never looking back.

Fifteen before I learnt to smile.

Yearned to be one with you forever.

You to be the Ever-Faithful.

I to not sit lonely, waiting.

At sixteen you sir went away,

Through White King’s Gorge, by Yen Rock’s rapids,

When the Yangtze’s at its highest,

Where the gibbons cried above you.

Here by the door your last footprints,

Slowly growing green mosses,

So deep I cannot sweep them,

Leaves so thick from winds of autumn.

September’s yellow butterflies

Twine together in our west garden.

What I feel – it hurts the heart.

Sadness makes my beauty vanish.

When you come down from far places,

Please will you write me a letter?

As far as the farthest reaches,

I’ll come out to welcome you.

The Exile’s Letter (To Yüan)

Remember how Tung built us a place to drink in

At Lo-yang south of the T’ien-ching bridge?

White jade and gold bought songs and laughter.

We drank forgetting Court and princes.

Those amongst us, wisest and bravest

On all this side of rivers and oceans,

Hearts high as clouds, and you and I together,

Cared nothing at crossing lakes and mountains

Only to share our thoughts and feelings.

Then I went out south-east to cut the laurel,

You north of Lo River still lost in dreams.

No joy in being parted. Soon back again in mountains,

Tracking the thirty-six twists and turns of valley,

By the streams bright with a thousand flowers,

By endless waters,

Hearing pine-trees sighing,

Till we met the Hang-tung Governor

On a gold and silver saddle,

And Hu the True-Taoist drew us with his pipe playing,

Making unearthly music out of the high tower,

Strange sounds of the mating phoenix.

The Governor’s sleeves kept time to the music,

So that he rose, drunk, and danced a little,

Brought his brocade coat, covered my body.

I fell asleep, head resting in his lap.

By day our hearts rose to the nine heavens.

At evening we scattered like blown stars or rain,

I to my far mountain over hills and waters,

You to your own house by the bridge of Wei.

That winter I made your father’s North City,

Loved you for the way you did me honour,

Sharing your wealth, thinking nothing of it.

Wine there - in cups of amber,

Food there - on plates of jade.

I ate and drank, no thoughts of returning.

We went out to the west. The river parts there,

Round the ancient shrine of a Prince of Chou.

Boats on the waters to drums and piping.

Waves made of dragon scales. Jade-green rushes.

We drank and drank, lived the passing moments,

Forgetting how they go like blossoms or snowfall.

Flushed with wine, warm in glow of sunset,

The hundred-foot deep pool mirroring bright faces,

Dancing-girls delicate as willows in the moonlight,

Notes lost in the silken sleeves’ fluttering.

A white breeze blew their song to the sky,

Winding through the air, twisting in the cloud-lanes.

Never again. Never again such joy.

I went west but got no promotion.

White-headed back to eastern hills.

Met once more south of Wei’s bridge.

Parted again north of Tso’s terrace.

And if you ask my feelings at parting,

They were inside me like Spring flowers falling.

No way to say what’s in the heart. Never.

I call in the boy. Have him kneel here, tie this,

To send my feelings through a thousand miles.

Jade Stairs Grievance

On jade stairs the white of dewfall.

Deeply soaked the silken slippers.

She lets fall the crystal blind.

Sees, through gauze, a Moon of Autumn.


Misted the flowers weep as light dies

Moon of white silk sleeplessly cries.

Stilled - Phoenix wings.

Touched - Mandarin strings.

This song tells secrets that no one knows

To far Yenjan on Spring breeze it goes.

To you it flies

Through the night skies.

Sidelong - Eyes. How

White tears fill now!

Heart’s pain? Come see -

In this mirror with me.

The Roosting Crows

On Soochow’s terrace the crows find their nests.

The King of Wu in his palace drinks with Hsi Shih.

Songs of Wu, Dances of Chu quicken their pleasure

One half of the sun is caught in the valley’s throat.

The clock’s silver arrow marks the passing hours.

They rise early to see the autumn moon,

Watch it sink down into deep river.

Daylight glows in the East. Dawn renews their joy.

Lu Mountain, Kiangsi

I climbed west on Incense Cloud Peak.

South I saw the spray-filled falls

Dropping for ten thousand feet

Sounding in a hundred gorges,

Suddenly as if lightning shone,

Strange as if light-wet rainbows lifted.

I thought the Milky Way had shattered,

Scattering stars through the clouds, downwards.

Looking up an even greater force.

Nature’s powers are so intense.

The Cosmic Wind blows there without stop.

The river’s moon echoes back the light

Into vortices where waters rush.

On both sides the clear walls were washed,

By streams of pearl broken into mist,

By clouds of foam whitening over rock.

Let me reach those Sublime Hills

Where peace comes to the quiet heart.

No more need to find the magic cup.

I’ll wash the dust, there, from my face,

And live in those regions that I love,

Separated from the Human World.

To My Wife on Lu-shan Mountain

Visiting the nun Rise-In-Air,

You must be near her place in those blue hills.

The river’s force helps pound the mica,

The wind washes rose bay tree flowers.

If you find you can’t leave that refuge,

Invite me there to see the sunset’s fire.

Reaching the Hermitage

At evening I make it down the mountain.

Keeping company with the moon.

Looking back I see the paths I’ve taken

Blue now, blue beneath the skyline.

You greet me, show the hidden track,

Where children pull back hawthorn curtains,

Reveal green bamboo, the secret path,

Vines that touch the traveller’s clothes.

I love finding space to rest,

Clear wine to enjoy with you.

Wind in the pines till voices stop,

Songs till the Ocean of Heaven pales.

I get drunk and you are happy,

Both of us pleased to forget the world.

Hard Journey

Gold painted jars - wines worth a thousand.

Jade carved dishes - food costing more.

I throw the chopsticks down,

Food and wine are tasteless.

Draw my magic sword,

Mind confused stare round me.

See the ice floes block the Yellow River.

Feel the snowfall shroud the T’ai-hang Mountains.

Quiet again I cast in dark waters,

Find the fragile boat that might drift sunwards.

Hard Journey. So many side-tracks.

Turn after turn, and where am I?

New breezes flatten down the waves ahead.

I’ll set cloud sails, cross the Blue Horizon.

‘We Fought for - South of the Walls

Died for - North of the Ramparts’ (to an old tune)

We fought for Mulberry Springs

Die now for Garlic River.

Wash our swords in Parthian Seas,

Feed our mounts on T’ien Shan snows.

Thousands of miles to and fro.

The Three Armies tired and old.

These Huns kill instead of ploughing,

Sow white bones in desert sand.

Ch’in built the Great Wall.

Han keeps the bright beacons.

These fires never die.

These wars never end.

Hand to hand we fight and fail,

Horses screaming to the skies.

Kites and crows pick at our flesh

Perch on dead trees with our dead.

We paint the grasses red,

Because our General had a plan.

The sword I say’s an evil thing.

A wise man keeps it from his hand.

Remembering the Springs at Ch’ih-chou

Peach-tree flowers over rising waters.

White drowned stones, then free again.

Wistaria-blossom on quivering branches.

Clear blue sky. The waxing moon.

How many tight-coiled scrolls of bracken,

On green tracks where I once walked?

When I’m back from exile in Yeh-lang,

There I’ll transmute my bones to gold.
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Old 09-06-2015, 04:54 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Now it is autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards oblivion.

The apples falling like great drops of dew
to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.

And it is time to go, to bid farewell
to one's own self, and find an exit
from the fallen self.


Have you built your ship of death, O have you?
build your ship of death, for you will need it.

The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.

And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can't you smell it?

And in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.


And can a man his own quietus make
with a bare bodkin?

With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make
a bruise or break of exit for his life;
but is that a quietus, O tell me, is it quietus?

Surely not so! for how could murder, even self-murder
ever a quietus make?


O let us talk of quiet that we know,
that we can know, the deep and lovely quiet
of a strong heart at peace!

How can we this, our own quietus, make?


Build then the ship of death, for you must take
the longest journey, to oblivion.

And die the death, the long and painful death
that lies between the old self and the new.

Already our bodies are fallen, bruised, badly bruised,
already our souls are oozing through the exit
of the cruel bruise.

Already the dark and endless ocean of the end
is washing in through the breaches of our wounds,
already the flood is upon us.

Oh build your ship of death, your little ark
and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine
for the dark flight down oblivion.


Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul
has her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.

We are dying, we are dying, we are all of us dying
and nothing will stay the death-flood rising within us
and soon it will rise on the world, on the outside world.

We are dying, we are dying, piecemeal our bodies are dying
and our strength leaves us,
and our soul cowers naked in the dark rain over the flood,
cowering in the last branches of the tree of our life.


We are dying, we are dying, so all we can do
is now to be willing to die, and to build the ship
of death to carry the soul on the longest journey.

A little ship, with oars and food
and little dishes, and all accoutrements
fitting and ready for the departing soul.
Now launch the small ship, now as the body dies
and life departs, launch out, the fragile soul
in the fragile ship of courage, the ark of faith
with its store of food and little cooking pans
and change of clothes,
upon the flood's black waste
upon the waters of the end
upon the sea of death, where still we sail
darkly, for we cannot steer, and have no port.

There is no port, there is nowhere to go
only the deepening black darkening still
blacker upon the soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness at one with darkness, up and down
and sideways utterly dark, so there is no direction any more
and the little ship is there; yet she is gone.
She is not seen, for there is nothing to see her by.
She is gone! gone! and yet
somewhere she is there.


And everything is gone, the body is gone
completely under, gone, entirely gone.
The upper darkness is heavy as the lower,
between them the little ship
is gone
she is gone.

It is the end, it is oblivion.


And yet out of eternity a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.

Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume
A little higher?
Ah wait, wait, for there's the dawn,
the cruel dawn of coming back to life
out of oblivion.

Wait, wait, the little ship
drifting, beneath the deathly ashy grey
of a flood-dawn.

Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow
and strangely, O chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.
A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.


The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
and the frail soul steps out, into the house again
filling the heart with peace.

Swings the heart renewed with peace
even of oblivion.

Oh build your ship of death, oh build it!
for you will need it.
For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.

- D.H. Lawrence
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Old 09-06-2015, 05:26 PM   #23 (permalink)
Shoo Thoughts
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some people are young and nothing
else and
some people are old and nothing
and some people are in between and
just in between.

and if the flies wore clothes on their
and all the buildings burned in
golden fire,
if heaven shook like a belly
and all the atom bombs began to
some people would be young and nothing
else and
some people old and nothing
and the rest would be the same
the rest would be the same.

the few who are different
are eliminated quickly enough
by the police, by their mothers, their
brothers, others; by

all that's left is what you


- Charles Bukowski
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Old 09-11-2015, 09:00 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Spring has its hundred flowers,
Autumn its moon.
Summer has its cooling breezes,
Winter its snow.
If you allow no idle concerns
To weigh on your heart,
Your whole life will be one
Perennial good season.

- Wu-men Huai-kai

A bird in a secluded grove sings like a flute.
Willows sway gracefully with their golden threads.
The mountain valley grows the quieter as the clouds return.
A breeze brings along the fragrance of the apricot flowers.
For a whole day I have sat here encompassed by peace,
Till my mind is cleansed in and out of all cares and idle thoughts.
I wish to tell you how I feel, but words fail me.
If you come to this grove, we can compare notes.

- Ch'an master Fa-yen

The wind traverses the vast sky,
clouds emerge from the mountains;
Feelings of enlightenment and things of the world
are of no concern at all.

- Zen Master Keizan Jõkin

Drinking tea, eating rice,
I pass my time as it comes;
Looking down at the stream, looking up at the mountains,
How serene and relaxed I feel indeed!

- Ch'an master Nan-ch'üan P'u-yüan

At Nantai I sit quietly with an incense burning,
One day of rapture, all things are forgotten,
Not that mind is stopped and thoughts are put away,
But that there is really nothing to disturb my serenity.

- Nan-t'ai

Old P'ang requires nothing in the world:
All is empty with him, even a seat he has not,
For absolute Emptiness reigns in his household;
How empty indeed it is with no treasures!
When the sun is risen, he walks through Emptiness,
When the sun sets, he sleeps in Emptiness;
Sitting in Emptiness he sings his empty songs,
And his empty songs reverberate through Emptiness:
Be not surprised at Emptiness so thoroughly empty,
For Emptiness is the seat of all the Buddhas;
And Emptiness is not understood by the men of the world,
But Emptiness is the real treasure:
If you say there's no Emptiness,
You commit grave offence against the Buddhas.

- P'ang

Be detached, be detached!
Be thoroughly detached!
What then?
The pine is green,
And white is the snow.

- Author Unknown

Others are revolted, I am unmoved.
Gripped by desires, I am unmoved.
Hearing the wisdom of sages, I am unmoved.
I move only in my own way.

- Chi Kung

Old Pan Kou knows nothing about time
and nothing about space as well.
His life is self-natured and self-sufficient.
He needs to ask for nothing outside of his own being.
The genesis of the world is the exercise of his mind.
When his mind starts to think, the world starts to move.
The world has never been made by any special design.
Neither has an end ever been put to it.

- The Song of Pan Kou

To learn Buddha Dharma is to learn the self.
To learn the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to become one with
endless dimension, Universal Mind.

- Dogen
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Old 09-14-2015, 12:28 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Experience Chan! It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils down to cause and effect.
Outside the mind there is no Dharma
So how can anybody speak of a heaven beyond?

Experience Chan! It's not a field of learning.
Learning adds things that can be researched and discussed.
The feel of impressions can't be communicated.
Enlightenment is the only medium of transmission.

Experience Chan! It's not a lot of questions.
Too many questions is the Chan disease.
The best way is just to observe the noise of the world.
The answer to your questions?
Ask your own heart.

Experience Chan! It's not the teachings of disciples.
Such speakers are guests from outside the gate.
The Chan which you are hankering to speak about
Only talks about turtles turning into fish.

Experience Chan! It can't be described.
When you describe it you miss the point.
When you discover that your proofs are without substance
You'll realize that words are nothing but dust.

Experience Chan! It's experiencing your own nature!
Going with the flow everywhere and always.
When you don't fake it and waste time trying to rub and polish it,
Your Original Self will always shine through brighter than bright.

Experience Chan! It's like harvesting treasures.
But donate them to others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything will appear before you,
Altogether complete and altogether done.

Experience Chan! Become a follower who when accepted
Learns how to give up his life and his death.
Grasping this carefully he comes to see clearly.
And then he laughs till he topples the Cold Mountain ascetics.

Experience Chan! It'll require great skepticism;
But great skepticism blocks those detours on the road.
Jump off the lofty peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and earth inside out.

Experience Chan! Ignore that superstitious nonsense
That makes some claim that they've attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are those of the not-yet-awakened.
And they're the ones who most need the experience of Chan!

Experience Chan! There's neither distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a family treasure.
Whether with eyes, ears, body, nose, or tongue -
It's hard to say which is the most amazing to use.

Experience Chan! There's no class distinction.
The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are a Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first principle... the one we should most observe?

Master Xu Yun
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Old 09-22-2015, 05:48 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Look for Buddha outside your own mind,
and Buddha becomes the devil.

- Dogen

Whether you are going or staying or sitting or lying down,
the whole world is your own self.
You must find out
whether the mountains, rivers, grass, and forests
exist in your own mind or exist outside it.
Analyze the ten thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take this to the limit
you will come to the limitless,
when you search into it you come to the end of search,
where thinking goes no further and distinctions vanish.
When you smash the citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is simply yourself.

- Daikaku

Unfettered at last, a traveling monk,
I pass the old Zen barrier.
Mine is a traceless stream-and-cloud life,
Of these mountains, which shall be my home?

- Manan

My legacy -
What will it be?
Flowers in spring,
The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples
Of autumn ...

- Ryokan

Loving old priceless things,
I've scorned those seeking
Truth outside themselves:
Here, on the tip of the nose.

- Layman Makusho

just as it is,
as it is,
as is.
Flowers in bloom.
Nothing to add.

- Roshi

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing at the soul of man:
Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.

- Bodhidharma
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Old 09-25-2015, 01:24 PM   #27 (permalink)
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A life-time is not what's between,
The moments of birth and death.
A life-time is one moment,
Between my two little breaths.

The present, the here, the now,
That's all the life I get,
I live each moment in full,
In kindness, in peace, without regret.

- Chade Meng
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Old 10-06-2015, 03:11 PM   #28 (permalink)
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All that we know is nothing,
we are merely crammed wastepaper baskets,
unless we are in touch with that which laughs
at all our knowing.

- D H Lawrence

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

- D H Lawrence

Nobody knows you.
You don't know yourself.
And I, who am half in love with you,
What am I in love with?
My own imaginings?

- D H Lawrence

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don't know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper.

- D H Lawrence

There is nothing to save, now all is lost,
but a tiny core of stillness in the heart
like the eye of a violet.

- D H Lawrence

When I hear modern people complain of being lonely
then I know what has happened.
They have lost the cosmos.

- D H Lawrence

We are all liars, because
The truth of yesterday
becomes a lie tomorrow,
Whereas letters are fixed,
and we live by the letter of truth.
The love I feel for my friend, this year,
is different from the love I felt last year.
If it were not so, it would be a lie.
Yet we reiterate love! love! love!
as if it were a coin with fixed value
instead of a flower that dies, and opens a different bud.

- D H Lawrence

My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh,
as being wiser than the intellect.
We can go wrong in our minds.
But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true.
The intellect is only a bit and a bridle.
Anger is blood, poured and perplexed into froth;
but malice is the wisdom of our blood

- D H Lawrence

I am not sure I would always fight for my life.
Life might not be worth fighting for.

I am not sure I would always fight for my wife.
A wife isn't always worth fighting for.

Nor my children, nor my country, nor my fellow-men.
It all deprnds whether I found them worth fighting for.

The only thing men invariably fight for
Is their money. But I doubt if I'd fight for mine, anyhow
not to shed a lot of blood over it.

Yet one thing I do fight for, tooth and nail, all the time.
And that is my bit of inward peace, where I am at one
with myself.

And I must say, I am often worsted.

- D H Lawrence

I have travelled, and looked at the world, and loved it.
Now I don't want to look at the world anymore,
there seems nothing there.
In not-looking, and in not-seeing
comes a new strength
and undeniable new gods share their life with us, when we cease to see.

- D H Lawrence

Oh seekers, when you leave off seeking
you will realise there was never anything to seek for.

You were only seeking to lose something, not to find something, when you went forth so vigorously in search.

- D H Lawrence

O are you tangled up in yourself
poor little man, poor little man!

Is she tangled up in herself then
poor woman, poor woman!

But beware!
They are like cats with unclean claws, tangled up in nets,
and if you try to get them out
they will tear you terribly, and give you blood-poisoning.

- D H Lawrence
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Old 10-07-2015, 09:04 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Location: These Mountains
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A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second-comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.

The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, if you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth ?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him ?
Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him ?
Was it humility, to feel so honoured ?
I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices :
If you were not afraid, you would kill him !

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid,
But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste,
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act !
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross,
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate :
A pettiness.

- D H Lawrence
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Old 10-08-2015, 08:08 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Location: These Mountains
Posts: 2,292

I've posted a lot of Ryokan's poetry in this thread, but I read another collection of his work recently. He's one of my favourite poets and author of my favourite poem.

He was supposedly born into a wealthy family but renounced it and was drawn to Buddhism at an early age. He evntually turned his back even on the monastic life, choosing instead to live a solitary life in nature, much like the famous Han Shan and Shih Te - who are said to have been an inspiration.

The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind

- Ryokan

I watch people in the world
Throw away their lives lusting after things,
Never able to satisfy their desires,
Falling into deeper despair
And torturing themselves.
Even if they get what they want
How long will they be able to enjoy it?
For one heavenly pleasure
They suffer ten torments of hell,
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.
Such people are like monkeys
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water
And then falling into a whirlpool.
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.
Despite myself, I fret over them all night
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

- Ryokan

The winds have died, but flowers go on falling;
birds call, but silence penetrates each song.

The Mystery! Unknowable, unlearnable.

- Ryokan

In my youth I put aside my studies
And I aspired to be a saint.
Living austerely as a mendicant monk,
I wandered here and there for many springs.
Finally I returned home to settle under a craggy peak.
I live peacefully in a grass hut,
Listening to the birds for music.
Clouds are my best neighbors.
Below a pure spring where I refresh body and mind;
Above, towering pines and oaks that provide shade and brushwood.
Free, so free, day after day -
I never want to leave!

- Ryokan

Stretched out,
Under the vast sky:
Splendid dreams
Beneath the cherry blossoms.

- Ryokan

Wild roses,
Plucked from fields
Full of croaking frogs:
Float them in your wine
And enjoy every minute!

- Ryokan

Deep in the valley, a beauty hides:
Serene, peerless, incomparably sweet.
In the still shade of the bamboo thicket
It seems to sigh softly for a lover.

- Ryokan

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.

- Ryokan

Why do you so earnestly seek
the truth in distant places?
Look for delusion and truth in the
bottom of your own heart.

- Ryokan

Down in the village
the din of
flute and drum,
here deep in the mountain
everywhere the sound of the pines

- Ryokan

The wind gives me
Enough fallen leaves
To make a fire

- Ryokan

And finally my favourite poem:

The rain has stopped, the clouds have drifted away, and the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the Way.

- Ryokan
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