A crouching blue cat is closely examining a centipede

Taking Refuge

The way it is, a hermit’s life

I realize it bit by bit, since I arrived

Stretching four limbs, listening with six senses

Wearing the same clothing, for different seasons

Eating whatever the Nature rations

Diligently I must keep up

Just so I might recognize it, when the Buddha reprises

~ Translated from a poem by Han Shan (aka Cold Mountain), a recluse in the Tang dynasty

自从出家后,渐得养生趣。伸缩四肢全,勤听六根具。

褐衣随春冬,粝食供朝暮。今日恳恳修,愿与佛相遇。

~ 寒山 (唐代)

In China, from beginningless time to nowadays, throughout the whole time span, there’re always hermits retreating from society to live alone on high mountains. If they never wrote anything, or if the writings got scattered by the wind, we would have never caught a glimpse of their exceptional lives. If all you’ve ever tried is a worldly existence, how could you imagine a life freed from all things unimportant?

Fortunately, some of their musings did get handed down. Han Shan, aka Cold Mountain, a recluse in the Tang dynasty, allegedly retreated into Tian Tai Mountain (Zhejiang Province) in his 30s and lived way past 100-year-old. His poetry had never been properly appreciated until the 20th century.