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#1870 - Monday, July 26, 2004 - Editor: Gloria  

  Dharma G ~ Daily Dharma  


"As Zen Master Seung Sahn and four of his students were traveling down
Route 95, they came to a toll booth. They gave the toll operator some
money and waited for her to give them change. One of the students said
to her 'Nice day, isn't it?' She agreed, but added, 'Where did all this
wind come from?' After they drove off, the car was silent for a while
until Zen Master Seung Sahn looked at the student and said 'That was no
ordinary woman at the toll booth. That was Kwanseum Bosal (Kwan Yin)
asking you a great question: 'Where did all this wind come from?' You
must always be alert to the teaching that comes your way. Put down your
mind and you can see what's actually in front of you. So I ask you
'Where did all this wind come from?"

~Kwan Um School of Zen Newsletter

Checkout some wonderful teachings on their web site:


Ryokan (1758-1831) (Nickname: Great Fool?Taigu ??)

Ryokan is one of the most well loved monk-poets that walked the roads of the poor of Japan.

After Ryokan finished his hard training, the Reverend Kokusen gave him a walking stick and a piece of paper, which showed he was a real priest.The paper said: "Ryo seems foolish, but the road is very wide".
He lives on as one of Japan's best-loved poets, the wise fool who wrote of his humble life with such directness.

Ordained as a Soto Zen priest and certified as a master, Ryokan chose to express his practice of the Way through living as a hermit in the countryside, begging for his food as was done by the Buddha and His disciples in ancient India.

Ryokan had no disciples, ran no temple, and in the eyes of the world was a penniless monk who spent his life in the snow country of Mt. Kugami in Northern Japan. He admired most the Soto Zen teachings of Dogen Zenji and the unconventional life and poetry of Zen mountain poet Han-shan. He repeatedly refused to be honored or confined as a "professional" either as a Buddhist priest or a poet. 

"Who says my poems are poems?
These poems are not poems.
When you can understand this,
Then we can begin to speak of poetry."

Ryokan never published a collection of verse while alive. His practice consisted of sitting in zazen meditation, walking in the woods, playing with children, making his daily begging rounds, reading and writing poetry, doing calligraphy, and on occasion drinking wine with friends.

Too confused to ever earn a living
I've learned to let things have their way.
With only three handfuls of rice in my bag
and a few branches by my fireside
I pursue neither right or wrong
and forget worldly fortune and fame.
This damp night under a grassy roof
I stretch out my legs without regrets.

Ryokan and the Nun Teishin ??????

When Ryokan san was 70, he met a nun named Teishin, and they fell in love. She was 28 and also a poet. They met rarely, but exchanged some of the most beautiful love poems in world literature during the three years they knew one another. When Ryokan san was dying, Teishin was sent for and she held him as he died. Because of her devotion to him, his poems have been given to the world. Teishin collected and published his work until her own death at about age 75.

between Ryokan and Teishin

Was it really you
I saw,
Or is this joy
I still feel
Only a dream?

In this dream world
We doze
And talk of dreams--
Dream, dream on,
As much as you wish.

Here with you
I could remain
For countless days and tears,
Silent as the bright moon
We gazed at together.

Have you forgotten me
Or lost the path here?
Now I wait for you
All day, every day.
But you do not appear.

on Ryokan’s Deathbed

When, when?” I sighed.
The one I longed for
Has finally come;
With her now,
I have all that I need.

We monastics are said
To overcome the realm
Of life and death--
Yet I cannot bear the
Sorrow of our parting.~Ryokan

Everywhere you look
The crimson leaves scatter
One by one
Front and back.

[Love poems from: ]

[Bio from: ]

Poems by Ryokan from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf

...But if you don’t write of things deep inside your own heart,
What’s the use of churning out so many words?

... Unless you got lost on purpose
You would never get this far.

Time passes,
There is no way
We can hold it back--
Why, then, do thoughts linger on,
Long after everything else is gone?

I’m so aware
That it’s all unreal:
One by one, the things
Of this world pass on.
But why do I still grieve?

When I think
About the misery
Of those in this world
Their sadness
Becomes mine.

...Suddenly I thought of an old friend
Separated from me by miles of mountain and rivers.
Will we ever meet again?
I gaze toward the sky,
Tears streaming down my cheeks.

We meet only to part,
Coming and going like white clouds,
Leaving traces so faint
Hardly a soul notices.

From heaven
A gift more precious
Then jewels or gold;
A visit from you
On the first day of spring!

Chanting old poems
Making our own verses,
Together in the fields--
Two people, one heart.
The breeze is fresh,
The moon so bright--
Let’s dance until dawn
As a farewell to my old age.    

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

~  ~  ~
  Faint trickle of
mossy water from
a crevice in the mountain rock:
the clear still way
I pass through the world

~  ~  ~
  Those old days—I wonder,
did I dream them
or were they real?
in the night I listen
to the autumn rain

- Ryokan

A Ryokan Calligraphy  

Ryokan (1758-1831)

Three Poems on My Begging Bowl

Picking violets
by the roadside
I’ve forgotten and left
my begging bowl –
that begging bowl of mine

I’ve forgotten
My begging bowl
But no one would steal it –
How sad for my begging bowl

In my begging bowl
Violets and dandelions
Jumbled together –
I offer them to the
Buddhas of the Three Worlds

First days of spring - blue sky, bright sun.
Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green.
Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village.
The children, surprised to see me,
Joyfully crowd about, bringing
My begging trip to an end at the temple gate.
I place my bowl on top of a white rock and
Hang my sack from the branch of a tree.
Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball.
For a time, I play catch while the children sing;
Then it is my turn.
Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten the time.
Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking,
"What is the reason for such foolishness?"
No answer I give, only a deep bow;
Even if I replied, they would not understand.
Look around! There is nothing but this.


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