Ryokan’s Hut Wept?

These photographs came from the Wikipedia entry on Ryokan. I just hope I done right by the copyright.

The Hut

Statue of Zen Master Ryokan

The hermit hut is for Ryokan a microcosm of life and the universe: “last year a foolish monk, this year no different.” It is the setting for the cycle of being which he so sensitively portrays in his poetry.

My life is like an old run-down hermitage
poor, simple, quiet.

A thought: If the hermit Ryokan is so closely identified with his hut he could speak of his hut weeping (the rain coming in) and soaking his book. Just a thought…

Carlos and Fernando

This news story from Guardian Unlimited, Gay flamingos adopt abandoned chick caught my eye! Hope you enjoy reading about these two characters as much as I have.

A pair of gay flamingos have become foster parents after taking an abandoned chick under their wings. Carlos and Fernando had been so desperate to start a family that they had resorted to stealing eggs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Read on…

All credit to Jonny of Do They Hurt for this link. Thanks.

Not a Comfortable Place

Have you recently thought about the state of the world?
A couple of proselytising persons had found their way to the isolated cottage where I was staying these past couple of weeks. They had come in a large 4 x 4 with a spiritual mission, and I accepted that. They looked like regular folk. But how to answer the question? It was one of those moment when the mind goes literal. HAD I thought about the state of the world? Recently?

My answer, not thought through and following quickly on the heels of the question. Uh! sorry I’m really very busy with something inside. I excused myself and went indoors and they turned and left, no hard feelings. It was the best I could do at the time. I’d excused myself from the inevitable debate, politely and respectfully I hope. There was not an intention to deceive or to tell an untruth yet all the same, looked at from a certain perspective, I’d not been completely truthful.

The end of the poem that has been posted these past couple of weeks has the protagonist telling a fib. Moved by profound emotion while reading, his tears had soaked the book. A neighbour came by and asked about the wet book. Our friend said the rain had come in during the night and soaked it.

Actions, such as my response, are not without consequence of course, however the basic guiding principle is to do as little harm as possible and intention is paramount in terms of keeping the precepts. In a way the above two examples are about saving both self and other from lengthy explanations about subtle matters, which are difficult to negotiate at the best of times even with like minded listeners.

We will just have to continue to sit balanced on the tip of the sword of justice. This is not a comfortable place, as any parent with small children know only too well! Maturing to spiritual adulthood is our task.

Thanks to Miles for raising the question about truthfulness of speech, an important question.

Always Heading Home

When there is no place
that you have decided
to call your own
then no matter where you go
you are always heading home.

Muso Soseki

I’ve had this quote beside me while I’ve been away. Now back at Throssel, where I’m able to look up the author on line, I discover he was both a Buddhist priest and designer of Japanese gardens. As coincidence would have it the book, The Art of the Japanese Garden, written by two Edmonton congregation members is advertised in the above link to Muso.

Good to be back.

The Poem, Reading the Record of Eihei Dogen by Ryokan (1758-1831)

On a somber spring evening around midnight,
Rain mixed with snow sprinkled on the bamboos in the garden.
I wanted to ease my loneliness but it was quite impossible.
My hand reached behind me for the Record of Eihei Dogen.
Beneath the open window at my desk,
I offered incense, lit a lamp, and quietly read.
Body and mind dropping away is simply the upright truth.
In one thousand postures, ten thousand appearances, a dragon toys with the jewel.
His understanding beyond conditioned patterns cleans up the current corruptions;
The ancient great master’s style reflects the image of India.

I remember the old days when I lived in Entsu Monastery
And my late teacher lectured on the True Dharma Eye.
At that time there was an occasion to turn myself around,
So I requested permission to read it, and studied it intimately.
I keenly felt that until then I had depended merely on my own ability.
After that I left my teacher and wandered all over.
Between Dogen and myself what relationship is there?
Everywhere I went I devotedly practiced the true dharma eye.
Arriving at the depths and arriving at the vehicle—how many times?
Inside this teaching, other’s never any shortcoming.
Thus I thoroughly studied the master of all things.

Now when I take the Record of Eihei Dogen and examine it,
The tone does not harmonize well with usual beliefs.
Nobody has asked whether it is a jewel or a pebble.
For five hundred years it’s been covered with dust
just because no one has had an eye for recognizing dharma.
For whom was all his eloquence expounded?
Longing for ancient times and grieving for the present, my heart is exhausted.

One evening sitting by the lamp my tears wouldn’t stop,
and soaked into the records of the ancient Buddha Eihei.
In the morning the old man next door came to my thatched hut.
He asked me why the book was damp.
I wanted to speak but didn’t as I was deeply embarrassed;
My mind deeply distressed, it was impossible to give an explanation.
I dropped my head for a while, then found some words.
“Last nights’ rain leaked in and drenched my bookcase.”

Translated by Daniel Leighton and Kazuaki Tanahashi
Copied from Moon in a Dewdrop, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi