cold winter winds
carry the voice of Te-Shan
intruding on my solitude
free yourself, he says ~
while working, work
while resting, rest
the birch outside my window
waves her leaves in the wind
celebrating her emptiness,
free of all anxiety
*buji ~ free of anxiety (no mind in work, no work in mind; that is, not self-conscious)
Te-Shan was an eighth century Chinese Chen (Zen) Buddhist teacher and scholar of the Diamond Cutter Sutra (aphorism), known as Case #4 of the Pi-yen-lu koans (riddles). Case #4 is “Te-Shan carrying his bundle.” As the story goes, the Master Te-Shan left his monastery in the north of China and headed south to challenge some teaching that he deemed incorrect. He was dedicated in both his scholarship and his tradition. On his journey, he carried with him his treasured bundle, the Commentaries on the Diamond Cutter Sutra.
Along the way he met a merchant selling rice cakes by the side of the road. She was an old woman and we all know how dangerous old women can be. The old woman asked him what scriptures he carried that were so precious to him. When he told her the Diamond Cutter Sutra, she asked, “Doesn’t the sutra say ‘past mind cannot be held, present mind cannot be held, future mind cannot be held? Which mind is it that the Master would wish to revive?” The old woman’s pointed questioning left Te-Shan speechless.
Shamed and defeated by this uneducated old woman with her street wisdom, Te-Shan returned to his monastery. It is said that he was unable to resume his teaching and spent the next days immersed in meditation. He soon achieved enlightenment and, as a result, burned all his writing and books saying:
“To plumb the greatest depth of knowledge would be no more than a piece of hair lost in the vastness of the great Void. However important your experience of worldly things, it is nothing – it is even less than a single drop of water cast into the Void.”
The Diamond Sutra or the Vajra Cutter Perfection Wisdom Sutra emphasizes the Mahāyāna Buddhist practices of non-attachment and non-abiding.
© 2012, poem and story adaption, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ the frontispiece piece of the Diamond Sutra “the oldest known printed book in the world” via Wikipedia and in the public domain
JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of married son who is very dear. I started blogging shortly after I retired as a way to maintain my sanity and to stay connected to the arts and the artful despite being mostly homebound. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.
With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded The Bardo Group because I feel that blogging offers a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.” I am the poetry liaison and a member of the Core Team. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) is in the lead position and the Beguine Again collabrative and The Bardo Group are coordinating a consolidation of the two groups.
“Good work, like good talk or any other form of worthwhile human relationship, depends upon being able to assume an extended shared world.” Stefan Collini (b. 1947), English Literary Critic and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge