Friday, July 6, 2012

Sekito's Grass Thatch Hut

Sekito Kisen (700-790)

      A Song About My Grass-Thatch Hut

      Here, where nothing is worth anything,
      I've set up a grass-thatched hut.

      After eating,
      I just stretch out for a nap.

      As soon as it was built,
      weeds were already growing back.

      Now I've been here awhile
      its covered in vines.

      So the one in this hut just lives on,
      not inside, out, in between.

      The places where usual folk live,
      I don't.
      What they want,
      I don't.

      This tiny hut holds the total world,
      an old man and 
      the radiance of forms and their nature,
      all in ten feet square.

      Bodhisattvas of the Vast Path
      know about this but
      the mediocre and marginal wonder,
      "Isn't such a place too fragile to live in?"

      Fragile or not,
      the true master dwells here
      where there is no 
      south or north, east or west.

      Just sitting here,
      it can't be surpassed:

      below the green pines
      a lit window.

      Palaces and towers 
      of jade and vermillion
      can't compare.

      Just sitting,
      my head covered,
      all things rest.

      So this mountain monk
      has no understanding at all,
      just lives on
      without struggling to get loose.

      Not going to
      set out seats
      and wait for guests.

      Turning the light
      to shine within,
      turn it around again.

      you can't face it
      or turn away from it.

      The root of it.

      Meet the Awakened Ancestors,
      become intimate with the teachings,
      lash grass into thatch for a hut
      and don't tire so easily.

      Let it go,
      and your life of a hundred years 

      Open your hands.

      Walk around.


      The swarm of words,
      and little stories
      are just to loosen you
      from where you are stuck.

      If you want to know
      the one in the hermitage
      who never dies,

      you can't avoid this skin-bag
      right here. 

-translation by Anzan Hosshin

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