Monday, August 25, 2014

“No Water, No Moon”

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

    In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
    Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about
       to break
    Until at last the bottom fell out.
    No more water in the pail!
    No more moon in the water!

*   *   *

Text is from 101 Zen Stories, a 1919 compilation of Zen compiled by Nyogen Senzaki, &  a translation of Shasekishū, written in the 13th century by Japanese Zen master Mujū (無住) (literally, "non-dweller"). The book was reprinted by Paul Reps as part of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.  See Wikipedia page.

Image links to source on Wiki Commons
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892): “Lady Chiyo and the broken water bucket”

1 comment:

  1. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is one of my favourite books. The end of "Buddha's Zen" hit me between the eyes: " I look upon the ... rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons."


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