At night, deep in the mountains I sit in zazen.
The affairs of men never reach me here.
In the stillness I sit on a cushion across from the empty window.
The incense has been swallowed up by the endless night;
My robe has become a garment of white dew.
Unable to sleep, I walk into the garden;
Suddenly, above the highest peak, the round moon appears.
In my early days of Dharma, I was so inspired by Ryokan and his poetry. My hero was Milarepa, and the ideal of the hermit, in a cave or hermitage, far from other humans, solitary, sat in meditation - the idea of this was my source of strength and sustenance. What a beautiful ideal - sitting long hours, looking deep into mind, with only the seasons, animals and nature for company. What more could one want!
It's funny how life pans out. Early on in my Dharma days, my first daughter was born, and my life became the family man. Yet my ideal remained the hermit. The way in which I held these two simultaneously - engaged with family and society, and renunciate of worldly ways was the dynamic and story of my Dharma practice. As the years have gone by, my meditation and practice has become less and less about being in particular conditions, and more and more about simply seeing into the nature of mind, however the shimmering shapes that appear in it may be.
More and more I feel like the hermit inside, who lives in the world, yet is somehow not bound by it. How beautiful the image of the Buddha, who thoroughly embodied this - in this world, yet not of it! How must that be like, to fully live that to the core? Not caught on the hooks of desire and ill-will, not grasping at appearances, but able to freely move through them as you would move through a rainbow.
How wonderful it is to have family and friends, to experience the richness of what arises in life, yet not be bound to it through falsely imagining solidity where there is not. As my mind loosens, and appearances slowly release their entrancing grip on attention, I find an openess and freedom to glide and slide. How beautiful this release from the tightness of grasping!
If the fruits of practice are this sweet with my poor efforts and realisation, then how must the ultimate fruit be!!!!
May all beings find this peace through loosening the intoxication of illusory appearances, and find the freedom of compassion that flows from the mind that is released!
(This poem is so beautiful ... the wonderful way Ryokan describes how things are ... just the bare description, without judgement and interpretation ... and as always, the beautiful ending .. the moon appearing .... one feels something of how that would feel in that context ... how beautiful, how fitting, how perfect, each thing in its place, just what it is, nothing less, nothing more .... simply 'thus' ....)