The moon’s reflected on the river a few feet away,
A lantern shines in the night near the third watch.
On the sand, egrets sleep, peacefully curled together,
Behind the boat I hear the splash of jumping fish.
I thought I would share with you a delightful Chinese Poet for the culmination of the week… Du Fu/Tu FU is perhaps one of the most influential of Chinese Poets. His work has been an inspiration for countless generations of poets in China and Japan.
So with that said, I bid you a good weekend… and may your path be one of beauty….
On The Menu:
Du Fu… Poetry
Du Fu Biography…
Seijo’s Two Souls
Chokan had a very beautiful daughter named Seijo. He also had a handsome young cousin named Ochu. Joking, he would often comment that they would make a fine married couple. Actually, he planned to give his daughter in marriage to another man. But young Seijo and Ochu took him seriously; they fell in love and thought themselves engaged. One day Chokan announced Seijo’s betrothal to the other man. In rage and despair, Ochu left by boat. After several days journey, much to his astonishment and joy he discovered that Seijo was on the boat with him!
They went to a nearby city where they lived for several years and had two children. But Seijo could not forget her father; so Ochu decided to go back with her and ask the father’s forgiveness and blessing. When they arrived, he left Seijo on the boat and went to the father’s house. he humbly apologized to the father for taking his daughter away and asked forgiveness for them both.
“What is the meaning of all this madness?” the father exclaimed. Then he related that after Ochu had left, many years ago, his daughter Seijo had fallen ill and had lain comatose in bed since. Ochu assured him that he was mistaken, and, in proof, he brought Seijo from the boat. When she entered, the Seijo lying ill in bed rose to meet her, and the two became one.
Zen Master Goso, referrring to the legend, observed, “Seijo had two souls, one always sick at home and the other in the city, a married woman with two children. Which was the true soul?”
Ganto’s Two Meals
Kisan paid a visit to Ganto, who was living in quiet seclusion, and asked, “Brother, are you getting two meals regularly?” “The fourth son of the Cho family supports me, and I am very much obliged to him,” said Ganto. “If you do not do your part well, you will be born as an ox in the next life and will have to repay him for what you owed him in this life,” Kisan cautioned.
Ganto put his fists on his forehead but said nothing. “If you mean horns,” Kisan said, “you must stick out your fingers on top of your head.” But before he finished speaking, Ganto shouted, “Hey!” Kisan did not understand his meaning and said, “If you know something deeper, why don’t you explain it to me?” Ganto hissed at him and said, “You have been studying Buddhism for thirty years, as I have, and you are still wandering around. I have nothing to do with you. Just get out.” And with these words he shut the door in Kisan’s face.
The fourth son of the Cho family happened to be passing by and, out of pity, took Kisan to his home. “Thirty years ago we were close friends,” Kisan said sorrowfully, “but now he has attained something higher than I have and will not impart it to me.”
That night Kisan could not sleep. He got up and went to Ganto’s house. “Brother,” he implored, “please be kind and preach the Dharma for me.” Ganto opened the door and disclosed the teaching. The next morning Kisan returned home, happy with attainment.
Bodhidharma and the Emperor Wu
Emperor Wu of China was a very benevolent Buddhist. He built many temples and monasteries, educated many monks, and performed countless philanthropic deeds in the name of Buddhism. He asked the great teacher Bodhidharma, “What merit is there in my good works?” Bodhidharma replied, “None whatsoever.” The Emperor then asked, “What is the Primal meaning of Holy Reality?” Bodhidharma answered, “Emptiness, not holiness.” The Emperor then queried, “Who, then, is this confronting me?” “I do not know,” was Bodhidharma’s reply. Since the Emperor did not understand, Bodhidharma left his kingdom.
Later, the Emperor related this conversation to an adviser, Prince Shiko. Shiko reprimanded him, saying that Bodhidharma was a great teacher possessed of the highest truth. The Emperor, filled with regret, dispatched a messenger to entreat Bodhidharma to return. But Shiko warned, “Even if all the people in the land went, that one will never return.”
Du Fu… Poetry
Staying Overnight with Abbot Zan
How did your tin-edged cane get here?
The autumn wind’s already sighing.
The rain’s laid waste the inner court’s chrysanthemums,
And frost has felled half the pond’s lotuses.
Banished, you don’t renounce your nature,
In limbo, you don’t depart from Chan.
Now we’ve met, we can spend a night together,
The Gansu moon shines round upon us.
Parting from Abbot Zan
The hundred rivers flow east every day,
The traveller keeps on moving, without rest.
My life is one of bitterness and drift,
What time will they finally reach their end?
Abbot Zan, learned in Buddhist teaching,
Banished from the capital to here.
Still we’re bothered by these earthly cares,
Reflected in our lean and haggard faces.
We stood one morning with willow twigs in hand;
The beans sprouted; then rain; then they ripened again.
The body floats along just like a cloud,
What limit can there be, to south or north?
I meet my old friend in a foreign region,
Newly happy, I write what’s in my breast.
The sky is long, the fortified pass is cold,
At the year’s end, hunger and cold pursue me.
The desert wind blows my travelling clothes,
About to leave and journey into the sunset.
The horse neighs, remembering its old stable,
Returning birds, exhausted, fold their wings.
The places where we used to meet and part,
Thorns and brambles have quickly covered over.
We look at each other, both in years of decline;
Leaving or staying, we each must do our best.
Taking Down a Trellis
The sticks I tied already wither and fall,
The pumpkin leaves are getting sparse and thin.
Its lucky that the white flowers fully grew,
You have to let the green vines fade away.
The autumn insects calling does not pass,
At dusk, whatever will the sparrows think?
Now, the world is one of cold and waste;
Human life has its beginning too.
Thinking of Li Bai at the End of the Sky
Cold wind rises at the end of the sky,
What thoughts occupy the gentleman’s mind?
What time will the wild goose come?
The rivers and lakes are full of autumn’s waters.
Literature and successful life are opposed,
Demons exult in human failure.
Talk together with the hated poet,
Throw a poem into Miluo river.
Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night
The army drum cuts off people’s actions,
A lone goose sounds on the borderland in autumn.
Tonight we start the season of white dew,
The moon is just as bright as in my homeland.
My brothers are spread all throughout the land,
No home to ask if they are living or dead.
The letters we send always go astray,
Still the fighting does not cease.
Du Fu or Tu Fu (February 12, 712770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His own greatest ambition was to help his country by becoming a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and the last 15 years of his life were a time of almost constant unrest.
Initially little known, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese culture. He has been called Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as “the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire”.