A melancholy autumn wind
Blows through the world;
The pampas grass waves,
As we drift to the moor,
Drift to the sea.
What can be done
With the mind of a man
That should be clear
But though he is dressed up in a monk’s robe,
Just lets life pass him by?
Why do people
On this set of bones
Destined to disappear
Without a trace?
The original body
Must return to
Its original place:
Do not search
For what cannot be found.
No one really knows
The nature of birth
Nor the true dwelling place.
We return to the source
And turn to dust.
Many paths lead
from the foot of the mountain,
But at the peak
We all gaze at the
Single bright moon.
If at the end of our journey
There is no final
Then we need not fear
Losing our Way.
is born and dies:
The emptiness of emptiness!
Rain, hail, snow and ice:
All are different,
But when they fall
They become the same water
As the valley stream.
The ways of proclaiming
The Mind vary,
But the same heavenly truth
Can be seen
In each and every one.
Cover your path
With the fallen pine needles
So no one will be able
To locate your
True dwelling place.
As Ikkyu does not think of his body
As if it were his body,
He lives in the same place,
Whether it is town or country.
A fleeting dream
So why by alarmed
At its evanescence?
The vagaries of life,
Not to cling
To this floating world.
If you break open the cherry tree,
Where are the flowers?
But in the spring time, see how they bloom!
To write something and leave it behind us,
It is but a dream.
When we awake we know
There is not even anyone to read it.
Look at the cherry blossoms!
Their color and scent fall with them,
Are gone forever,
The spring comes again.
why is it all so beautiful this fake dream
this craziness why?
this ink painting of wind
blowing through pines
who hears it?
oh yes things exist like the echo when you yell
at the foot of a huge mountain
sin like a madman until you can't do anything else
no room for any more
one long pure beautiful road of pain
and the beauty of death and no pain
mirror facing mirror
sick of it whatever it's called sick of the names
I dedicate every pore to what's here
a well nobody dug filled with no water
ripples and a shapeless weightless man drinks
oh green green willow wonderfully red flower
but I know the colors are not there
the mind is exactly this tree that grass
without thought or feeling both disappear
not two not one either
and the unpainted breeze in the ink painting feels cool
Ikkyu this body isn't yours I say to myself
wherever I am I'm there
nature's a killer I won't sing to it
I hold my breath and listen to the dead singing under the grass
suddenly nothing but grief
so I put on my father's old ripped raincoat
when I was forty-seven everybody came to see me
so I walked out forever
my monk friend has a weird endearing habit
he weaves sandals and leaves them secretly by the roadside
even before trees rocks I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere I'll be nothing
no nothing only those wintry crows
bright black in the sun
if there's nowhere to rest at the end
how can I get lost along the way?
that stone Buddha deserves all the birdshit it gets
I wave my skinny arms like a tall flower in the wind
no words sitting alone night in my hut eyes closed hands open
wisps of an unknown face
the wise know nothing at all
well maybe one song
melons eggplants rice rivers the sky
I offer them to you on this holiday
go down on your silly knees pray
for what? tomorrow is yesterday
I found my sparrow Sonrin dead one morning
and buried him just as gently as I would my own daughter
I hate it I know it's nothing but I
suck out the world's sweet juicy plum
you stand inside me naked infinite love
the dawn bell rips my dreaming heart
When it blows,
The mountain wind is boisterous,
But when it blows not,
It simply blows not.
Dimly for thirty years;
Faintly for thirty years, -
Dinly and faintly for sixty years:
At my death, I pass my faeces and offer them to Brahma.
–Ikkyu Sojun/Ikkyuu Soojun (1394-1481)
Excerpted from Wild Ways
John Stevens translation
Andrew Wyeth painting, on the death of a friend