Everything Is In The Heart – Zen Master Ryokan, Again.

I received an email from a very good friend, and blog reader, with the following poem by Zen Master Ryokan typed into it. My friend had received it, hand written, in a card from a man incarsorated in prison with whom he corresponds as a befriender.

I watch people in the world
Throw away their lives lusting after things,
Never able to satisfy their desires,
Falling into deep despair and torturing themselves.
Even if they get what they want,
How long will they be able to enjoy it?
For one heavenly pleasure,
They suffer ten torments of hell.
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.
Such people are like monkeys,
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water
And then falling into a whirlpool.
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.
Despite myself,I fret over them all night
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

My friend replied with the following Ryokan poem:

Even if you consume as many books
As the sands of the Ganges
It is not as good as really catching
One verse of Zen.
If you want the secret of Buddhism,
Here it is: “Everything is in the Heart”!

My thoughts are with them both this evening, and with ‘you all’ who patiently read what is left here.

Happy shortest day of the year by the way.

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3 thoughts on “Everything Is In The Heart – Zen Master Ryokan, Again.”

  1. Reverend Mugo,

    Thank you for this post. I have been enjoying your current, and past, photo and poem series. These two poems are a treat. When I read the last line of the poem your friend replied it reminded me of Kosho Uchiyama quoting the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra:

    “In this triple world,,

    All is my domain;

    The living beings in it

    Are all my children.”

    Happy Holidays to you and yours.


  2. Thanks Raymond for the brilliant quote. I’ve been looking for something to put in my New Year cards and I think you have just found it for me. So double thanks.
    And glad you are enjoying the photo poem series, they give me a time for pause and reflection and I have the hope that others find them of benefit in similar fashion.

  3. That first poem readily addresses why I feel some sadness with the onset of the festive season. It happens every year. People rush around making themselves unhappy, if not irritable, chasing after this one day they will enjoy, “even if it kills them.”


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