Thursday, September 01, 2005

What we're reading

Here are some sample verses from Cold Mountain:

* * * * *

When water is so clear it sparkles
you can see the bottom without effort
when your mind doesn't have a goal
no circumstance can distract you
once your mind doesn't chase illusions
even a kalpa holds no changes
if you can be so aware
from such awareness nothing hides

* * * * *

Talking about food won't make you full
talking about clothes won't make you warm
only eating food will make you full
only wearing clothes will make you warm
people who don't know how to reason
just say a buddha is hard to find
look inside your mind there's the buddha
don't look around outside

* * * * *

I enjoy the simple path
between dark vines and mountain caves
the wilderness has room to roam
with white clouds for companions
there's a road but not to town
only mindless men can climb
at night I sit on the rocks alone
until the moon comes up Cold Mountain

(The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain 寒山詩
Translated by Red Pine, Copper Canyon Press, 2000).

* * * * *

This is a bilingual version, with the original Chinese on one page and Red Pine's English translation on the facing page.

The person known as Cold Mountain (Han-Shan; 寒山) named himself after the cave he chose to live in. Based on written artifacts he examined while researching this book, Red Pine places Cold Mountain between 730-850, during the Tang Dynasty. Cold Mountain lived and wrote his poems/songs (詩) in present-day Chekiang Province at the base of Hanyen, on Cold Cliff, a two-day walk from the East China Sea (p. 4).

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