Ryokan, the Zen Hermit Who Found Happiness in Solitude
Teachings of a Zen Hermit: Leaving the world
Truly, I love this life of seclusion.
Carrying my staff, I walk toward a friend’s cottage.
The trees in his garden, soaked by the evening rain,
Reflect the cool, clear autumnal sky.
The owner’s dog comes to greet me;
Chrysanthemums bloom along the fence.
These people have the same spirit as the ancients;
An earthen wall marks their separation from the world.
In the house volumes of poetry are piled on the floor.
Abandoning worldliness, I often come to this tranquil place –
The spirit here is the spirit of Zen.
Teachings of a Zen Hermit: Don’t talk, Act
Talk is always easy
Practice always hard
It’s no wonder people try to make up for
their lack of hard practice with easy talk
But the harder they try, the worse things get
The more they talk, the more wrong they go
It’s like pouring on oil to put out a fire
Just foolishness and nothing else
Teachings of a Zen Hermit: The path to true happiness will not always be easy
The long winter night! The long winter night seems endless;
When will it be day?
No flame in the lamp nor charcoal in the fireplace;
Lying in bed, listening to the sound of freezing rain.
To an old man, dreams come easy;
I let my thoughts drift.
The room is empty and both the saké and the oil are used up –
The long winter night
When I was a boy studying in an empty hall,
Over and over I had to fill the lamp with oil.
Even now, that task is disagreeable –
The long winter night.