白隠慧鶴 Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769)
« back

Ant on a Stone Mill (Early)
38.7 x 59.4 cm

Őröl a hangya
HANGYÁS ŐRÜLET, Terebess Gábor haikuja

Ants were, indeed, sometimes used by Hakuin as a means of placing worldly concerns in their proper perspective. In one well-known painting an ant circles around the edge of a stone mortar; the inscription says, “The ant circling the mortar rim provides a hint for the world.” We may think the ant foolish as it walks endlessly along the edge of the mortar, but are those who concern themselves solely with the passing affairs of the world really any different?
In the Keiso dokuzui Hakuin writes,

An ant circles an iron handmill, around and around with never a rest.
Beings in the Six Paths of Existence are like this, suffering rebirth and redeath and never finding release.
Born here, dying there, becoming a demon, becoming an animal.
If you seek for liberation from this sorrow, hear the Sound of One Hand.”

 

 

Ant on a Stone Mill (Late)

"Deeper meanings underlie the most humble pictures. An image that Hakuin drew multiple times shows an ant on a grindstone. A haiku on the page reads, “Circling the grindstone, an ant — this world's whisper,” hinting at a great truth in the inaudible sound of an ant walking. In a separate poem Hakuin elaborated:

An ant goes round and round without rest
Like all beings in the six realms of existence,
Born here and dying there without release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand."

Spiritual Seeker With a Taste For the Satirical by Ken Johnson, The New York Times, 2010/12/24

 

Ant on a Grindstone

 

蟻磨 Gima (Ant on a Mill)



磨をめぐる 蟻や世上の耳こすり
Ma o meguru ari ya sejo no mimi kosuri

An ant circling the handmill — a hint for the world.

In his inscription Hakuin suggests that the busy-ness of the world is of no more importance than the circling of an ant on top of a handmill. In his Keiso Dokuzui Hakuin writes, “A silent ant circles an iron handmill, around and around with never a rest. Beings in the Six Paths of Existence are like this, suffering rebirth and redeath and never finding release. Born here, dying there, becoming a demon, becoming an animal. If you seek liberation from this sorrow, you should hear the sound of one hand.”

 

Ant on a Grindstone

An ant, that runs in a circle on a mortar.
Could this clean the ears of the world!

Ink on paper, height 34 cm, Collection Numazu Tanaka

 

Hangyás őrület
Terebess Gábor haikuja

körbe-körbe jár
malomkő peremén a
hangya - őröl tán