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 the Buddha when he shows up

~ Translated by Dot, 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.

Peach Blossom

In earthly realm, April has spent its inflorescence

Here at mountain temple, peaches have come into blossom

Nowhere to be found once it’s lost, I used to have regrets about spring

Not knowing it has a hideout in here so awesome

~ Translated by Dot, from Bai Juyi’s “Peach Blossoms at Dalin Temple,” written in the Tang dynasty

人間四月芳菲盡
山寺桃花始盛開
長恨春歸無覓處
不知轉入此中來

~ 白居易 (唐代) <<大林寺桃花>>

In The Bamboo Grove

Sitting alone in a bamboo grove

I play the zither, singing aloud

The woods are deep, no one being around

Yet between the bright moon and me, there is a knowing grown

~ Translated by Dot, from Wang Wei’s “In The Bamboo Grove,” written in the Tang dynasty

獨坐幽篁裡
彈琴復長嘯
深林人不知
明月來相照

~ 王維 (唐代) <<竹里館>>