Daughters Of Emptiness

What a wonderful surprise today! A package in the mail containing a book titled Daughters of Emptiness, Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns. Touching and tender verse. Thank you dear friend. Yes it was about a year ago we met. In London. Briefly. Dharma connections are a living treasure.

The following poem, copied from the Wisdom Publications website, is in the book.

The sequence of seasons naturally pushes forward,
Suddenly I am startled by the ending of the year.
Lifting my eyes I catch sight of the winter crows,
Calling mournfully as if wanting to complain.
The sunlight is cold rather than gentle,
Spreading over the four corners like a cloud.
A cold wind blows fitfully in from the north,
Its sad whistling filling courtyards and houses.
Head raised, I gaze in the direction of Spring,
But Spring pays no attention to me at all.
Time a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack,
The tap [of Death] at the door has its predestined time.
How should I not know, one who has left the world,
And for whom floating clouds are already familiar?
In the garden there grows a rosary-plum tree:
Whose sworn friendship makes it possible to endure.
Chan Master Jingnuo

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6 thoughts on “Daughters Of Emptiness”

  1. Ah….

    beauty sadness nature life death

    I have had another book of Chinese Women’s poetry on my wishlist (Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon: Women’s Poems from Tang China by Jeanne Larsen, Translator) for quite sometime but reading this poem I decided to buy Daughters of Emptiness right away. Thank you for sharing.

  2. The book sounds really good…another book recommendation that I have is: “The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up.” It is a book of oral histories of the older generation which has seen so many changes. The chapter entitled “The Abbot” is the very moving story of a 103 year old monk, Master Deng Kuan, at the Guanyang Temple. By the way, Corpse Walkers were people who carried the corpse back to the hometown and family. The way they carried it made it look like the person was still alive and just under a dark cloak.

  3. Reading the poem reminds me to notice my environment more and, to slow down. I’ve been trying really hard to do one thing at a time recently, but still I find myself rushing, rushing, rushing. It can be a kind of violence. So today I will go in late to work, go in at midday. Being trained in a new computer audit system can wait. Listen to the harmony of the wind and the the birdsong.
    In gratitude,

  4. How timely! I just finished a phone call with my longtime friend, on the occasion of her 60th birthday, who has begun to hear the cold wind and see the crows. She chose as her gift a deep freezer to house the abundant produce of her garden and kitchen, her own “rosary-plum.”

  5. Yes, Daughters of Emptiness is a wonderful book–highly recommended. It covers a long stretch of Chinese history. As translator of the poems by women of all sorts (homemakers, courtesans, women of the palace, women of religion) collected in Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon, I’ll just add that this collection includes my version of the only poem that can be reliably attributed to a Buddhist nun of the Tang era–and a great many that in imagery and tone show the writers’ undertandings of the dharma. (Some were written on a royal pilgrimage tour, some on temple visits, etc.) So if there’s room on your shelf for another book…

  6. Many thanks for drawing our attention to your collection of poems. This might just be the prod I need to order some books… I do have room on my shelves if I get my paper friends all rowed up and standing correctly. At the moment they are sprawled in disarray, pages akimbo. Your book is on my list, her place is assured.

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