SAYINGS OF THE MASTERS


The house owner was caught:
the house escaped
through the window.
                    - Fish net

Kunioshi

The essence of Zen is contained in the pithy phrases and poems handed down through the line of Japanese and Chinese masters.

Some are so well known that for centuries now they’ve entered the su hua, i.e. “common sayings”, such as Tu Fu’s:

The country is ruined: yet
mountains and rivers remain.
It’s spring in the walled town,
the grass growing wild.

Very relevant to our time here in Europe! The poems help students bring symbols and abstractions back to earth, into the here and now, or into the body.

The vacant sky - 
no front, no back:
The birds’ paths -
no east, no west.

To waste all day 
in the busy town,
Forgetting the treasure 
in his own house.

I love them, there’s a sensibility and often a humour to them that speaks directly and implies that somewhere in all the ceaseless and seemingly insignificant activities of either the natural world or of our lives there is a truth and purity to be found.