drafty mountain hut

always at home, forever on the way

Category: Mountain Practice

Mountains and Waters 2022 (3)

by tendo zenji

Looking East from Cuthroat Pass in the North Cascades

On Climbing the Highest Peak of Stone Gate


At dawn with staff in hand I climbed the crags,
At dusk I made my camp among the mountains.
Only a few peaks rise as high as this house,
Facing the crags, it overlooks winding streams.
In front of its gates a vast forest stretches,
While boulders are heaped round its very steps.
Hemmed in by mountains, there seems no way out,
The track gets lost among the thick bamboos.
My visitors can never find their way,
And when they leave, forget the path they took.
The raging torrents rush on through the dusk,
The monkeys clamour shrilly through the night.
Deep in meditation, how can I part from Truth?
I cherish the Way and never will swerve from it.
My heart is one with the trees of late autumn,
My eyes delight in the buds of early spring.
I dwell with my constant companions and wait for my end,
Content to find peace through accepting the flux of things.
I only regret that there is no kindred soul,
To climb with me this ladder to the clouds in the blue.


–Xie Lingyun
Translated by J. D. Frodsham in Zen Poems (Everyman’s Library)

Mountains and Waters 2022 (2)

by tendo zenji

Looking west from Easy Pass in the North Cascades

AFTER CLIMBING PA-LING MOUNTAIN, IN THE WEST HALL AT WAI-YDAN MONASTERY: OFFERED TO A MONK BEYOND THIS WORLD ON HENG MOUNTAIN


There’s a sage monk on Heng Mountain,
the beauty of five peaks his true bones,

autumn moon alight in a sea of water
revealing his ten-thousand-mile heart.

A guardian gone into southern darkness,
pilgrims of the Way all visit him there,

sweet dew sprinkling down, a language
clear and cool gracing flesh and hair.

Bright lake a mirror of fallen heaven,
scented hail a gate into all this silver:

come for the view, I feed on kind winds,
new blossoms teaching mind this vast.

–Li Po
Translated by David Hinton in The Selected poems of Li Po

Mountains and Waters 2022 (1)

by tendo zenji

Thornton Lake from Trappers Peak in the North Cascades

Climbing Long-View Mountain’s Highest Peak

Rivers and mountains beyond the form seen:
Hsiang-yang’s beauty brings them in reach,

and Long-View has the highest peak around.
Somehow I’d never climbed its cragged heights,

its rocky cliffs like walls hacked and scraped
and towering over mountains crowded near,

but today, skies so bright and clear, I set out.
Soon the far end of sight’s all boundless away,

Cloud-Dream southlands a trifle in the palm,
Warrior Knoll lost in that realm of blossoms.

And back on my horse, riding home at dusk,
a vine-sifted moon keeps the stream lit deep.

–Meng Hao-Jan
translated by David Hinton in The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan

North Cascades Mountain Practice (II)

by tendo zenji

P1010639

Why am I so sad for so long?
Human life is like a morning mushroom.
How can this last for decades?
Both new and old wither and fall—
Of course I feel sad.
It’s a sorrow so hard to bear,
how will I ever endure it?
I’ll take my body back to hide in the mountains

Han Shan, The Complete Cold Mountain Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt

 

North Cascades Mountain Practice (I)

by tendo zenji

P1010707

This mountain
seems somehow
lonely as I

am. People
come and go
through its empty

distances, and those
distances remain

empty. I’m getting old
now, but this
mountain’s
been here almost
forever. No

wonder it understands

loneliness so much
better than
I ever will. Every
time I come

here, we both
promise never to
leave, and mountains
always keep
their promises.

The eye, the mirror–
deep eye is
magic. Things seen

go all the way
inside me
and vanish there. It seems
impossible, I

know, but everything
heals from inside

out.

David Hinton, from Desert: Poems