The Autumn Moon

October 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Autumn Moon 2

The moon appears in every season, it is true,
But surely it’s best in fall.


In autumn, mountains loom and water runs clear.
A brilliant disk floats across the infinite sky,
And there is no sense of light and darkness,
For everything is permeated with its presence.


The boundless sky above, the autumn chill on my face.
I take my precious staff and wander about the hills.
Not a speck of the world’s dust anywhere,
Just the brilliant beams of moonlight.


I hope others, too, are gazing on this moon tonight,
And that it’s illuminating all kinds of people.
Autumn after autumn, the moonlight comes and goes;
Human beings will gaze upon it for eternity.


The sermons of Buddha, the preaching of Eno,
Surely occurred under the same kind of moon.


I contemplate the moon through the night,
As the stream settles, and white dew descends.
Which wayfarer will bask in the moonlight longest?
Whose home will drink up the most moonbeams?


The Autumn Moon, By Ryokan

English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese


Short Zen Poem by Ryokan

June 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

The wind has settled, the blossoms have fallen;
Birds sing, the mountains grow dark –
This is the wondrous power of Buddhism.


Learn the backward step

May 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Learn the backward step

that turns your light inward

to illuminate your self.

Body and mind of themselves

will drop away,

and your original face will be manifest.


Coming, going, the waterbirds

don’t leave a trace,

don’t follow a path.



No waves,

no wind, the empty boat

is flooded with moonlight.


Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.

The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.

Although its light is wide and great,

The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.

The whole moon and the entire sky

Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.


Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253)

Discovering the footprints

April 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints!

Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints.

Deep in remote mountains they are found.

These traces no more can be hidden than one’s nose, looking heavenward.

second verse of “Bulls” by Chinese Master Kakuan, twelfth century


January 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

This is a matter for strong people. People who do not discern what is being asked give replies depending on what comes up. They do not know it is something you ask yourself — to whom would you answer? When people do not understand an answer, they produce views based on words. They do not know it is something you answer for yourself — what truth have you found, and where does it lead? Therefore it is said, ‘It’s all you.’ Look! Look!

Zen Master Foyan (1067-1120)

No water, no moon.

December 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

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!

from Story 29 of 101 Zen Stories.

The Poetry of Zen

December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

I stand here and watch the people of this world:
all against one and one against all,
angry, arguing, plotting and scheming.
Then one day, suddenly, they die.
And each gets one plot of ground:
four feet wide, six feet long.
If you can scheme your way out of that plot,
I’ll set the stone that immortalizes your name.

—Han Shan, 8th century, translated by J.P. Seaton

From The Poetry of Zen
Translated and edited by Sam Hamill and J.P Seaton
Shambhala, 2007.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Buddhism category at awilliamsii.

%d bloggers like this: