Beneath tall pines I built a hut
windows open on all four sides
I sit all day facing mountains
nothing else comes to mind
I put mulberry logs in the stove to make charcoal
new cotton in my quilt a new mat on the bed
what can I say about staying warm all winter
I don’t dream about heaven
Late autumn rain is a rain of mist
tiger tracks appear in the moss
the west wind doesn’t stop all night
by dawn yellow leaves are up to the steps
Stonehouse, a 14th century Zen hermit, has been called “the greatest of all Zen monks who made poetry their medium of instruction.” I’m beginning to think all Zen monks make poetry their medium of instruction, but that doesn’t speak less of his. I love it. I’m on a honeymoon with it. I spend my nights with it.
Usually I don’t care about classical Zen works or Buddhist literary artifacts. I’m not a museum-goer. But I won’t cheat myself or anyone else out of them. Some people wake to church bells, and some to the rustle of leaves.
If you or someone you know could use quiet companionship to encourage a faithful practice, this book, translated by the masterful Red Pine, will make a lasting marriage – not to mention a rare and generous gift.
Here’s an earlier book recommendation in my seasonal, less-is-more Zen Gift Guide.