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
~ 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.