onsdag 20 maj 2015

Bookreview: Inside the grass hut


Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen priest in the Katagiri lineage at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. In the book he has taken on a thirty-two linepoem by Zen master Shitou (700-790) called "Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage" and uses it as a stepping stone to illuminate the meaning of spiritual practice, humility, simplicity, and living lightly.
Even though the language in the book, and poem, is easy, has an air of zen aesthetics, and talk about the simplicity of life in a down to earth kind of style, they are not an light read in the sense of thoughts and the impact they will leave on you. Both the poem and the book opens up a spectrum of thoughts and inklings to the features of our hut.
Each chapter in the book focuses on a single line of the poem.
By doing so Connelly lets the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line, explore it and then step out for air before moving on to the next line/chapter.
Line by line, chapter by chapter, Connelly shows the reader how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, how it is applicable in living a daily, simple, life with a deep connection to all things.

The book is going to be an valueable companion to life in general and Shitou's poem for anyone, not just Zennies, who find these gems.

Song of the grassroof hermitage

I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.

The person in the hut lives here calmly,
Not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.

Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?

Perishable or not, the original master is present,
not dwelling south or north, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines –
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.

Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?

Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
Bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.

Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.

- Shitou Xiqian

Thank you for your practice.


Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar