The round pearl has no hollows, The great raw gem isn’t polished. What is esteemed by people of the Way is having no edges. Removing the road of agreement, senses and matter are empty: The free body, resting on nothing, stands out unique and alive. (The Book of Serenity)


Once I was a student with books and sword; I have lived under two enlightened sovereigns. I was an official in the east, but they gave me no prizes; I fought in the west but won no medals. I studied the arts of peace and the arts of war, The arts of war and the […]

Chan Master Dao

Verse on containing the universe: The universe and myriad forms, Hell and heavens; In reality everything is seen – It is used everywhere without harm. Verse on cutting off all streams: Piling in mountains, heaping in crags, Each is completely dust; If you still try to discuss mystery and marvel, The ice melts and tiles […]

Kakuan Shion

IN THE WORLD (Number 10 of 10) Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world. My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful. I use no magic to extend my life; Now, before me, the dead trees become alive. — With bare chest and feet, you come […]

Kakuan Shion

REACHING THE SOURCE (Number 9 of 10) Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning! Dwelling in one’s true abode, unconcerned with that without – The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red. — You’ve returned to the […]

Kakuan Shion

I normally post poems without much commentary, but I thought I would say more about the next few. The ten ox-herding pictures are a historic sequence in zen practice, and many versions exist in picture and verse form. Kakuan is supposed to be the originator of these (his drawings can be seen here, along with […]