A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 1 April 2010

No News Of The Affairs Of Men

Ryokan (1758-1831) is a Japanese poet of whom I'm very fond. A Buddhist monk, he trained 12 years with a Zen master. When his master died, he set off on a 5 year pilgrimage. Finally, at the age of 40, he settled down in a spartan hut on Mount Kugami and became a hermit for more than 30 years, living in absolute simplicity with very few possessions. This short, simple, yet for me profoundly resonant poem of his is quoted in Jon Kabat-Zinn's book Coming To Our Senses. It's the very essence of Zen:

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe.
When the moon comes out, I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report, my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things.


1 comment:

Laura said...

It is as if you are my personal quote-of-the-day researcher! This is what my soul needed today. Thank you, once again.