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寒山 Hanshan (b/t 730-850)

(Rōmaji:) Kanzan
(English:) "Cold Mountain"
(Magyar:) Han-san,


A bölcs vigyor
Fordította: Károlyi Amy et al.

Han-shan, Cold Mountain Poems
Translated by Gary Snyder

27 Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Arthur Waley

Words from Cold Mountain
Translated by A. S. Kline

Three Short Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Peter Hobson

Selected Han-Shan Poems for Hippie Reading
by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

Han Shan
Translated by D. T. Suzuki

Han Shan
Translated by R. H. Blyth

Encounters with Cold Mountain
Translated by Peter Stambler

Songs of Cold Mountain
Translated by Red Pine

The Poetry of Han-Shan
Translated by Robert G. Hendricks

PART 1 Poems No. 1— No. 100
Poems No. 101— No. 200
Poems No. 201— No. 311

Han-shan and Shih-tê
Chapter XIV/26. In: The Golden Age of Zen
by John C. H. Wu

PDF: Han-shan Reader

PDF: Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Burton Watson

PDF: Cold Mountain Poems
Translated by J.P. Seaton


The Poetry of Han-Shan, Part 3
Translated by Robert G. Hendricks
The Poetry of Han-Shan: A Complete, Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain
State University of New York Press. Albany, NY. 1990.

No. 201 **

Above the peak of Han-shan, the moon— [round like] a wheel and alone;
Shining, it shows through the clear sky; 1. [in the sky] there is not one thing.

The valuable, natural, priceless jewel 2.
Is concealed within the five skandhas, submerged in this body, this self. 3.

Seven-character lines.
Chao-hsien might also be read as chao-chien, which would mean "Looking at the [moon] as though at a mirror, [I perceive that] in the sky there is not one thing." In any event, it is dear that the moon here, as later in poem 277, "enlightens" Han-shan about the nature of his true mind.
i.e., Buddha-nature, the original mind.On the "priceless jewel" see poem 195, note 3.
The "five skandhas" (wu-yin here, though normally wu-yün) are the five components of life, the five elements which combine to produce the compound of "self." They are form, feeling, perception, will, and consciousness.

Comment: The first couplet serves as a metaphor for the second.The true mind should shine through the skandhas just as the moon does through the sky, for in reality, the skandhas are void: they have no true substance.


No. 202 ***

I face toward the front valley, look at myself in that emerald-green flow;
Or I look toward the side of the cliff, sitting on rocks large and firm.

My mind is like a lone cloud, having nothing to use for support; 1.
Distant, distant the affairs of the world— why must they be pursued?

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Seven-character lines.
"Having nothing to use for support" (wu so-i) is a good thing; the mind is unattached, not clinging to any object or perception.


No. 203 **

Right from the start I've lived on Han-shan;
Stone cliffs, on these I nest and rest, far apart from the causes of delusion. 1.

When it's 2. submerged, the ten thousand forms disappear without mark or trace;
When it unfolds, it spreads all around, reaching to all parts of space. 3.

Light rays and shadows, leaping and glowing, shine from the seat of my mind; 4.
There's not one single thing, at times like these, that shows up in front of my face.

It's then that I know the mani5.—that one single pearl—
When understood and used, has no corners, in all places it's round and complete. 6.

Seven-character lines.
Fan-yüan, the causes of kleśa (fan-nao), affliction, delusion, and pain.
i.e., original mind.
Literally, reaches to all the "great thousand," the ta-ch'ien—that is to say, "the three-thousand ten-thousand world" (Tri-sahasra-mahā-sahasra), the huge universe of 1,000,000,000 worlds (1000 x 1000 x 1000) that is part of the Mahāyāna view.The mind in itself is tranquil and pure, devoid of one single thing, but when it is active, all things are there. There is not one thing in all the world that is not contained in the mind as thought.
It could be the light rays shine on his mind (chao hsin-ti). But I think the point here—as in poem 277—is that the mind is like the moon which shines, but which shines on nothing at all.
On maṇi as pearl and symbol of Buddha-nature, see poem 198, note 1.
A mind with corners (fang) would be, I think, a mind with aspects and therefore limitations. The mind is round (yüan); it embraces all things.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 281) point out that this poem is cited in Chapter 12 of the early Sung collection Tsung-ching lu (completed in 976; T. 2016, Vol. 48, p. 481 middle). The poem there cited contains a number of interesting variants.Lines 1 and 2 there read: "I live in this place—I call it Han-shan; In the mountain cliffs I rest and nest, far apart from the bother and noise (fan-hsüan). Lines 7 and 8 there read: "It's then that I know that the maṇi—that one single treasure; If profoundly used is without exhaustion (miáo-yung wu-ch'iung)—in all places it's round and complete."


No. 204 **

The people of this world—what is the thing that makes them sigh and lament?
Sorrows and joys, in turn, burn their insides without limit or end.

Life and death—they come and they go for how many eons of time?
East, West, South, and North— this is whose home this time?

Chang, Wang, Li, Chao—a surname just for a short while;
The "six ways" and the "three paths"; 1. affairs tangled and twisted like hemp.

Only because the "master" 2. they have not completely renounced;
As a result, they invite change and decline and chase after delusion and sin.

Seven-character lines.
The "six ways" (liu-tao) are the six destinies (gatis) possible after death—i.e., to be punished in hell, become a preta (a hungry ghost), to be reborn as a demon (asura), a human being, an animal, or a god (deva). The "three paths" (san-t'u) are the three evil destinies—viz., existing in hell, as a hungry ghost, or as an animal.
Chu-jen here meaning, I think, the ātman, the self or soul.


No. 205 **

In the beginning I lived on T'ien-t'ai;
A path through the clouds—mist and fog dense, cut off from the coming of guests.

Eight thousand feet high the cliffs and the peaks, deep—[a place to which one] can flee;
Ten thousand layers of valleys and brooks; boulders as large as a tower or stage.

With kerchief of birch bark and clogs made of wood, I follow the course of the stream;
In cotton-fur coat, with staff of pigweed, I circle the slopes and return.

Aware on my own that this floating life 1. is a matter of illusion and change.
I ramble untrammelled in joy and delight; truly wonderful indeed! 2.

Seven-character lines.
Fou-sheng; drifting and floating like a cloud or a bubble on water, life has no real substance and will eventually dissipate.
Reading the variant ch'i for shan. With shan, the line would be "truly great indeed."


No. 206

The thing to be pitied is this disease of all living things;
They taste and they eat—but they generally never get full.

They steam the piglet—soaking it in garlic sauce;
Roast up the duck—add a dash of pepper and salt.

They take out the bones, making "raw slices of fish;"
Leave the skin on, cook up the face meat. 1.

They don't know the "bitterness" of other's lives;
Only hold on to the "sweetness" of their own homes.

Since yü-kuai ("sliced or diced fish") is a set phrase, jou-lien might be as well, but I can find nothing on it.Chinese do, however, eat the face skin of certain animals.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 276) feel that jou-lien is a meat soup.


No. 207

By reading books can you avoid death?
By reading books can you avoid being poor?

For what reason do we delight in recognition of words? 1.
Through recognition of words we defeat other men!

If a great man does not recognize words,
There is no place where he'll be secure.

When golden thread is soaked in garlic sauce;
You forget that it's bitter as can be! 2.

Literacy, that is.
i.e., we tend to forget the bitter realities of life through knowledge and job security. On huang-lien as "golden thread," see Read, Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 170 (item 534). The Shen Nung pen-ts'ao ching (1.25a, SPPY ed.) explains that "if golden thread is consumed for a long time it causes people not to forget."


No. 208

I've seen people who deceive others;
It's like running with a basket of water.

Though you might rush home with it, all in one breath;
In the basket—what will you have? 1.

I've seen people being deceived by others;
They're just like the leeks in the garden.

Day after day they're cut by the knife,
But what they were born with by nature is something that still remains. 2.

Meaning their deception of others is something that gains them nothing, despite what they might think.
Leeks are like chives—each day you can cut off the green tops, but the white root is unharmed, and new, green shoots will appear. One's true nature, true self— Buddha-nature—is never harmed by what others might say.


No. 209

Have you not seen the dew that descends in the morn?
With the sparkling rays of the sun, of itself it dispels and is gone.

Man's life is also like this;
Jambudvīpa 1.—this is just where we stop over awhile. 2.

Never, never pass your time just going along;
Moreover, you must cause the three poisons to leave. 3.

Wisdom must take the place of delusion; 4.
You must totally make this so—let no delusion remain.

Jambudvīpa is the Indian name of the continent on which we live. One common Buddhist cosmological scheme has the giant mountain Mt. Meru in the center of the earth; around it we find a large ocean with four island continents, one in each of the four cardinal directions.Jambudvīpa is the southern continent, and Bhāratavarṣa—the Indian name for India—is found on the southern half of that isle.
Chi-chü meaning the temporary lodging of a traveller on a long trip.
The "three poisons" (san-tu) are anger, greed, and ignorance.See poem 88, note 1.
Literally, the line says, "bodhi is none other than kleśa" (p'u-ti chi fan-nao).

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 284) point out how the opening lines mimic the middle of poem 13 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" ( Wen-hsüan 29:6ab, p. 399). Watson's translation of the relevant lines ( Chinese Lyricism, p. 29) reads: "Times of heat and cold in unending succession, but the years Heaven gives us are like morning dew.Man's life is brief as a sojourn; his years lack the firmness of metal or stone." That poem ends with advice that differs considerably from Han-shan's—"Ten thousand ages come and go, but sages and wise men discover no cure.Some seek long life in fasts and potions; many end by poisoning themselves. Far better to drink fine wine, to clothe ourselves in soft white silk!"


No. 210

Water that's clear, calmly still, and transparent;
All the way to the bottom, one can naturally see.

When in the mind there is not one thing,
The ten thousand realms cannot make it turn. 1.

If the mind does not falsely arise, 2.
For endless eons there'll be no change.

If you can know the mind in this way,
This is knowledge that has no back side. 3.

That is, the phenomenal world, the ten thousand dharmas—differentiated things. I prefer the variant line of wan-ching pu-neng chuan to the reading of shui ch'ing chung-shou hsien. "In clear water, the hosts of animals' [reflections] will appear."
Or, with the variant chi. "Since the mind.... "
i.e., knowledge that is non-dual.


No. 211 **†

From the time I arrived in this realm of T'ien-t'ai
'Til the present—I've passed here a number of winters and springs.

The mountains and streams do not change— man alone becomes old;
I've seen retreat [from this place] a good many young men.

Seven-character lines.

This poem is omitted from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō Library editions.The poem is attributed by some to Shih-te.


No. 212

Speaking of food in the end will not make you full;
Speaking of clothes will not keep out the cold.

If you want to eat your fill, the thing you must have is rice;
Put on clothes—then you will keep out the cold.

Yet you don't understand, that you must carefully think all things through;
You just speak of the difficulties in looking for the Buddha.

Turn your mind 'round—that's the Buddha!
Never look for him facing outside.


No. 213 *

Frightful! The bitter pain of saṁsāra;
We go and return, like dust blown in the wind.

An ant going 'round a bracelet's edge never stops;
The "six ways"—chaotic, in great disarray. 1.

You can change your head and get a new face,
But you'll not get away from the person you were before.

Quickly! Be done with the darkness of Hell;
Don't let your mind and your nature be confused.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
For the "six ways," see note 1 to poem 204. The six destinies of transmigration make up one big circle—like the bracelet the ant goes around.


No. 213 *

Frightful! The bitter pain of saṁsāra;
We go and return, like dust blown in the wind.

An ant going 'round a bracelet's edge never stops;
The "six ways"—chaotic, in great disarray. 1.

You can change your head and get a new face,
But you'll not get away from the person you were before.

Quickly! Be done with the darkness of Hell;
Don't let your mind and your nature be confused.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
For the "six ways," see note 1 to poem 204. The six destinies of transmigration make up one big circle—like the bracelet the ant goes around.


No. 214 *

Frightful! Rotation in the three realms; 1.
It continues from moment to moment 2.—never once has it ceased.

Just when you start thinking you might get out,
Again you fall back and find yourself sunk and submerged.

Even if you reach the realm that's Neither Thought nor No Thought 3.
And produce much strength for future good fortune,

Can this compare with knowing the true source?
Once you attain it, you have it for good.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
On the three realms, see above, note 3 to poem 197.
Literally, "thought after thought" (nien-nien).
Fei fei-hsiang abbreviates fei hsiang fei fei-hsiang—naivasaṁjñānāsaṁjn̅ānāyatana—the fourth heaven in the "Formless" realm and thus the highest point in the cosmos.It is commonly mistaken by heretics for nirvāṇa.


No. 215 *

Yesterday I roamed to the top of a peak;
Below, peered over a thousand foot cliff.

On the brink of disaster—one lonely tree;
Swayed by the wind, it split into two.

Tossed about by the rain, the leaves scattered and fell;
Dried out by the sun, they turned into ashes and dust.

I sigh to see this luxuriant growth
Has today become a big pile of dirt.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.

Note: In the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (Ch. 38; T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 589 bottom) we read: "Those who are wise look upon this life just like a large tree on the edge of a cliff by the side of a stream."


No. 216 *

From of old there have been many sages
Who have time and again urgently taught belief in oneself.

But people, fundamentally, by nature are not the same;
Some are high and some low, some are sharp and some dull.

If the true Buddha you're unwilling to acknowledge,
You put all your strength into uselessly enduring hardship and pain.

You don't know that the clear and pure mind
Is precisely the seal of the true Dharma-king. 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
The "seal" is the proof of the Buddha.


No. 217 *

I have heard of the mountain T'ien-t'ai;
That in this mountain, there are trees of white jade. 1.

For a long time I've said I want to climb it,
But no one knows the path that crosses Stone Bridge. 2.

For this reason I let out a sad sigh;
My good fortune in living here—already in its decline. 3.

Today I looked into a mirror;
Unkempt and disheveled 4.—my temple hair hangs down in strands.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Ch'i-shu are trees one finds in Paradise, in the realm of the immortals. Sun Ch'o mentions the ch'i-shu on T'ien-t'ai in his "Yu T'ien-t'ai fu" ( Wen-hsüan 11: 8a, p. 149). Richard Mather (" The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains," p. 242) translates as follows: "The Standing Tree effaces shadows for a thousand hsün, while "alabaster orchards" [ch'i-shu] gleam and glow with hanging pearls." (Also see Watson, Chinese Rhyme‐ Prose, p. 84).
This probably alludes to a line in the early part of Sun Ch'o's rhapsody. Mather (" The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains," p. 237) translates: "The farers, since the road is cut, none understand"; for the Chinese text see Wen-hsüan 11: 5b, p. 148. On the " Stone Bridge," see poem 44, note 2.
Reading the variant of mu ("sunset," "closing years of one's life") for mu ("admire," "long for").
Sa-sa normally means the sound of wind or the sound of rain. Here it appears to describe the scattered, thin appearance of Han-shan's hair.

Note: Han-shan's poem is allegory as well as description.To him, as to Sun Ch'o, the ascent of T'ien-t'ai is the mystical ascent to enlightenment. The "narrow bridge" crosses a stream to the "other shore" of nirvāna, but in good Zen fashion, Han-shan says that no one knows where the path is that crosses the bridge.


No. 218

In raising sons, if they don't study with a teacher, 1.
They won't measure up to the city park rats! 2.

Have they ever once seen good men?
Do they listen to the words of their elders?

If you want something dyed, put it with plants that are fragrant or foul; 3.
For your sons, you must pick their companions and mates.

If in May you peddle fresh fish,
Never let others ridicule you! 4.

Or possibly, "if they don't study the classics with a teacher"—pu ching shih—but I think the ching here means to pass through or experience.
Literally, "city pavilion rats" (tu-t'ing shu). Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 293) have found the following line in the Shih-liu kuo ch'un‐ ch'iu:"Rats in the city pavilions often get to hear words of elders." Given line 4 below, rats have the advantage.
The compound hsün-yu ("fragrant plants and foul-smelling plants") is a stock metaphor for people who are good or bad. Read( Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 34, item 134a) identifies the hsün-ts'ao as 0. basilicum: for yu. Hu Shiu-ying( An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medica [ Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1980], p. 182) has the botanical name Caryopteris incana.
The point is that fish in the fifth month easily spoil, just like boys when they are young. Parents must be careful; their sons can easily and quickly turn bad.


No. 219

In vain I dose my bramble door and sit down, 1.
Repeatedly going through changes that endure like the spark of a flint. 2.

I've only heard about people turning into ghosts;
I've never seen the crane-transformed immortals. 3.

When I think of this—how can I bear to speak?
When you live following fate 4., you must take pity on yourself.

I turn and gaze out beyond the suburbs and walls;
"Ancient tombs now ploughed into fields." 5.

On p'eng-men ("bramble door") see poem 29, note 4. "Bramble door" is a set expression for describing the humble abode of a recluse.
There is a variant of sui-yüeh, "years and months" for "the spark produced by striking a flint" (shih-huo).
i.e., people who become immortals by turning into—or riding to the sky on—cranes.
Literally, live "in accord with karmic conditions" (sui-yüan).
A direct quote from poem 14 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" of the Han (Wen-hsüan 29: 6b, p. 399).


No. 220 *

When people of this age see Han-shan,
They all say, "This is some nut!"

"His face—not fit to be seen by human eyes;
His body wrapped only in cotton-fur robes."

But my words they don't understand,
And their words are things that I wouldn't say!

My response to these visitors is,
"You too can come look at Han-shan!"1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Possibly meaning to "look at" (hsiang) Han-shan in the way that Bodhidharma is said to have looked at (mien) a wall for nine years—sitting in meditation.


No. 221

Independent and free 1.—at ease in the white clouds;
But from the beginning, it's not that I purchased these hills. 2.

To get through the passes below, you must support yourself with a cane;
For the precipitous peaks up above— grab on to creepers to climb.

At the bottom of the valley, the pines are always kingfisher green;
By the side of the brook, the rocks are by nature mottled.

Though friends and campanions are impeded, cut off,
When spring arrives the birds peacefully sing out "tweet, tweet."

Tzu-tsai translates īśvara, "sovereign" or "king." Literally, the Chinese means "to exist on one's own"—thus to be free from any resistance to one's movement.
Probably an allusion to a story that is told of the Buddhists Chih Tun (314-366) and Chu Tao-ch'ien (286-374). Chu Tao-ch'ien's biography in Kao-seng chuan 4(ch'u-chi pp. 97-99) records that Chih Tun once sent someone to Tao-ch'ien to buy from him a small ridge on Yang-shan on which to retire. Tao-ch'ien's response was: "If you want to come, then I will give [it to you]. Have you ever heard of [the recluses] Ch'ao [Fu] and [Hsü] Yu buying mountains and retiring?" A similar anecdote is recorded in Shih-shuo hsin-yü 25:28 ( Yang Yung, Shih-shuo hsin-yü chiao-chien [ Hong Kong: Ta-chung shu-chü, 1969], pp. 601-602: Mather, A New Account, pp. 412-413).


No. 222

I live in a little country village,
Where everyone praises me as someone without compare.

But yesterday I went down to the city,
Where, to the contrary, I was looked up and down by the dogs!

Some complained that my trousers were too tight;
Others said that my shirt was a little too long!

If someone could draw off the eyes of the hawk,
Little sparrows could dance with dignity and grace!


No. 223

"Life and death from the beginning are fixed by Fate;
Wealth and rank originally come from Heaven."

These are the words of the ancients; 1.
My words now are not some false report.

But the wise and the clever "enjoy" their short lives,
While the stupid and foolish, to the contrary, live out their long years.

And the dull creature has abundant treasures and wealth,
While the sharp, alert man has no money at all.

Han-shan seems to have in mind—indeed, virtually quotes—the words of Tzu-hsia found in Analects 12: 5 (p. 22). D. C. Lau( Confucius: The Analects, p. 113) translates: "Ssu-ma Niu appeared worried, saying, 'All men have brothers.I alone have none.' Tzu-hsia said, 'I have heard it said: "life and death are a matter of Destiny; wealth and honor depend on Heaven." The gentleman is reverent and does nothing amiss ... and all within the Four Seas are his brothers.What need is there for the gentleman to worry about not having any brothers?"'

Comment: One is reminded of poem 2 in T'ao Ch'ien's famous series, " Twenty Drinking Wine Poems," where a similar bitterness about the injustice in life is expressed.Hightower ( The Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien, p. 126) translates the opening lines of that poem: "Do good, they say, and your reward will come—Po-i and Shu-ch'i found theirs on West Mountain.Since good and evil go without reward, what's the point of all the cant they talk?" Po-i and Shu-ch'i (see note 4 to poem 8) were the two recluses who died of starvation, refusing to serve the founder of the Chou dynasty, whom they regarded as a usurper—in this way preserving their integrity.


No. 224

For the country, it's the people that are fundamental; 1.
It's just like the tree that depends on the soil.

If the soil is rich, the tree will flourish and spread;
If the soil is poor, the tree withers and decays.

You must never leave its roots bare;
When the branches dry up, the seeds are the first things to fall. 2.

To breach the dam to get the fish—
This is to seize but momentary profit.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 300) see an allusion here to a line in the "Wu-tzu chih ko" ( Songs of the Five Sons) in the Shu ( Shang-shu K'ung-chuan 3: 9b). Legge/Waltham( Shu Ching: Book of History [ Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery, 1971], p. 58) translates that line: "The people are the root of a country." The Chinese is min wei pang-pen; Han-shan's text is kuo i jen wei pen. Iritani and Matsumura further argue that Han-shan changes min to jen to avoid the taboo on T'ang T'ai-tsung's name ( Li Shih-min; r. 627-649).
But what are the seeds in the allegory? Future possibility? Wealth?


No. 225

Sentient beings—they're not worth discussing!
What's the meaning of their allowing the upside-down and perverse?

On their faces, the two evil birds; 1.
In their hearts, three poisonous snakes. 2.

These pose for them hindrances and obstructions;
They cause you to serve defilement and pain. 3.

Raise your hand high and snap your fingers!
[Let's just sing,] "Namah Buddha." 4.

The identity of the "two evil birds" (liang-o niao) is uncertain.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 301-302) say they stand for two kinds of kleśa, chien-ssu fan-nao (kleśa of perception and thought?), on the one hand, which is confusion about the true mark of things, and wu-ming fan‐ nao (kleśa of ignorance) on the other, which is fundamentally lacking the ability to know.However, they cite no textual authority for this interpretation. Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 119), on the other hand, explains "the two evil birds" as the obstacles of seeing and hearing.The "two evils," unlike the "three poisons," does not seem to be a set expression in Buddhism.
i.e., the three poisons—greed, anger, and ignorance.
Fan-na here seems to mean the same thing as fan-nao, which is kleśa ("defilements," "passions"), even though the syllable na by itself is thought to be a sound that dispels the defilements.
Following the interpretation of Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 302), who feel that to raise one's hand high and snap one's fingers is a sign of joy—i.e. "Forget them! Let's have a good time." Another interpretation of these last two lines might be made.Since the words "Namah Amitābha" (here na-mo fo-t'o-yeh)—meaning "I bow down to Amitābha"— are chanted at the moment of death by believers in the Pure Land, it could be that the author is saying, "By the time it takes to snap your fingers (that fast), you'll be chanting "Namaḥ Amitabha" (i.e., you'll be dead). In support of this t'an-chih (to snap the fingers) is used above in poem 34 in this way—to mean "that fast."


No. 226

I find my joy in the Everyday Way; 1.
Midst mist and vines and stone caves.

Delighting in the wilds—great is my unrestraint;
My constant companions—white clouds at their ease.

There are roads—but they don't reach through to the world;
I have no mind 2.—who can pull me away?

On my rock bed, alone I sit in the night,
While the round moon climbs up Han-shan.

In kōan 19 in the Wu-men kuan (T. 2005, Vol. 48, p. 295 middle), the Zen master Nan-ch'üan replies in a similar way to a question from Chao‐ chou. Chao-chou asks, "Like what is this Way?" To which Nan-ch'üan replies, "The everyday mind is the Way"(p'ing-ch'ang hsin shih tao). For an English translation of the whole, see Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones ( New York: Doubleday, 1957), p. 105.
Wu-hsin, like wu-nien, is the desired Zen frame of mind, a mind in which there is no intentional or deliberate thought.


No. 227 *

The great ocean—water without any shore;
Fishes and dragons—ten thousand, ten thousand thousand.

Taking turns, they eat and they chew one another;
All mixed together—one stupid lump of flesh. 1.

Because the mind isn't completely cut off, 2.
False thoughts arise like smoke.

Your nature is like the moon—pure and clear, it is bright;
Far and wide it shines without end. 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Han-shan is obviously talking about the "sea" of sentient beings.
The active mind being that which thinks on purpose for some self-ish end.
Wu-pien; without an end spatially, the same words end the first line, there translated as "without any shore." In this way Han-shan identifies the true nature with the phenomenal realm.


No. 228 *

In person 1. I see the top of T'ien-t'ai;
Alone in its height—standing above the common crowd.

Swayed by the wind, pines and bamboo sigh in harmony;
When the moon shines, the ocean and tides incessantly roll.

Below I look out to the edge of green hills;
To discuss things profound, I have the white clouds.

My delight in the wilds agrees with these mountains and streams;
My original ambition—to admire fellow followers of the way. 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
There is a variant of mu ("With my own eyes I see") for tzu ("in person").
The same line occurs at the start of poem 278.


No. 229

Three or four 1. stupid youngsters!
In the things they do, neither genuine nor sincere.

They've not yet read ten volumes,
Yet in their presumption, they pick up the "editing pen." 2.

They take the chapter "Conduct of Scholars"3.
And call it "regulations for robbers and thieves!"

They metamorphose—like they're silverfish—
Then chew up and destroy others' books.

Literally, "three or five" (san-wu).
The "editing pen" is literally the "yellow ochre pen" (tz'u-huang pi). Yellow ochre was used in ancient times to blot out words, since the color of the paper was yellow.
Chapter 40 in the Li-chi (Record of Rites).


No. 230 *

A mind as high as some mountain peak!
Maintaining the distinction between self and other, he does not yield to other men. 1.

He knows how to lecture on the Vedas,
Can discuss the writings of the Three Schools. 2.

In his heart there's no sense of shame or disgrace;
Even though he has broken the precepts, 3. gone against Vinaya lore. 4.

He himself says this is the teaching for the highest of men
And claims that he himself's number one!

Those who are stupid all praise him and sigh;
Those who are wise, clap their hands together and laugh.

Dust in sun's rays—spots in the air; 5.
Can he avoid life and old age?

This does not compare to understanding nothing at all,
To silently sitting, 6. cutting off vexation and grief.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Following Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 307) in understanding jen-wo in this way—the distinction between self and other. Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 240) understands it to mean that he is subjective or biased.In Buddhism, jen-wo technically is the erroneous view that there is a permanent self, an ātman. The line thus might also read: "He believes in true self—he will not yield to others."
The "Three Teachings" (san-chiao) are Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
The "precepts" are the moral rules of laymen and monks, śīla (chieh). The ten precepts upheld by all monks are—quoting from Soothill and Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, p. 239—"(1) not to kill, (2) not to steal, (3) not to commit adultery, (4) not to speak falsely, (5) not to drink wine, (6) not to use adornments of flowers, nor perfumes, (7) not to perform as an actor, juggler, acrobat, or go to visit and hear them, (8) not to sit on elevated, broad, and large divans (or beds), (9) not to eat except in regulation hours, and (10) not to possess money, gold or silver, or precious things."
Lü-wen, the Buddhist writings on training and discipline—all moral and administrative rules for monastic life.
i.e., life is like this; it is something that is not really real. On "flowers/spots in the air" (k'ung-hua), see also poem 297.
In meditation—ching-tso.


No. 231

It's like having many fine treasures;
In the ocean, riding a broken-down tub!

In the front part you've lost your mast;
To the rear there's also no helm.

Twisting and turning, blown about by the wind;
High and low, you bob with the waves.

How can you get to that shore?
You must work hard and never sit still.

Note: An allegory of what life is like: with Buddha-nature inside (the "many fine treasures"), we strive to reach the other shore of nirvāṇa with this "broken-down tub" (i.e., our bodies). The metaphor of the broken‐ down boat is mentioned in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, Chapter 27 (T. 375, Vol. 2, p. 674 bottom). Whatever nu-li ("work hard," "exert all your strength") might mean elsewhere in these poems (see the comment on poem 53), here it surely means to work hard in a Buddhist way.


No. 232 *

I've seen common dumb men;
They store up large amounts of riches and grain.

They drink down their wine and eat living things,
Saying, "Ah, now I'm rich and content."

None of them knows the depths of Hell;
They only seek the good fortune of mounting to Heaven.

But their sinful karma is like Mount Vipula; 1.
How can they avoid disaster and harm?

When this rich master suddenly dies,
His kin will compete in weeping in front of his corpse.

They'll make offerings to monks to read sacred prayers;
In vain, this money paid to spirits and ghosts!

If you have not even one blessings field, 2.
It's useless to bring forth a crowd of bald [monks and nuns].

This can't compare to being early enlightened;
To never doing 3. that which leads to the dark and black Hell.

When wild winds do not shake the tree,
The mind that is real 4. has neither blessings nor sin.

I send these words to you bewildered men;
I urge you to read them two or three times.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Mount Vipula(p'i-fu for p'i-fu-lo) is a large mountain near Kusāgārapura in Magadha.The claim that the bones of sentient beings passing through countless lives pile up this high is made in Chapter 25 of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (T. 375, Vol. 12, p. 739 bottom). See also poem 280.
Fu-t'ien, an area of good works that will result in blessings.
This might also be read as direct exhortation—"Never do [things that lead to].... "
Hsin-chen; the mind is bhūtatathatā.


No. 233 *

I urge you people in the three realms, 1.
Never do things that go against reason. 2.

If your powers in reason are weak, you'll be cheated by others;
If they are strong, they'll not tolerate you.

In this world, people impure and excessive,
Are just exactly like burdock. 3.

They don't see that the man unconcerned with affairs,
He alone is set free—there is no one who can compare.

Early on, you must return to the original source;
The three realms, following causes, arise.

The pure and unsullied—enter it just like a stream;
Never drink from water that is unclear. 4.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
On the three realms, see poem 197, note 3.
Or such the Chinese seems to say.But the point is unclear, given the text that follows.
For shu-nien-tzu as "Great Burdock" (Arctium lappa) see Read, Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 1 (item 2). But what is the point? Does Han-shan mean to say they stick fast to you no matter which way you turn? Or is it that, having come into contact with the external, phenomenal world, they stick fast to it, unable to tear themselves free? (this seems to be Iritani and Matsumura's interpretation [ Kanzanshi, p. 313]). Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan‐ tzu, p. 238) feels it simply stands for bad people in the world.
That is, from avidyā, "ignorance" (wu-ming shui), the basic cause of existence in the three realms.


No. 234

Men in the three realms, 1. like millions of insects wiggle and squirm;
Men in the six paths 2.—a limitless mass.

They covet their wealth and cherish their lustful desires;
Hearts evil, like those of the jackal 3. and wolf.

Off to Hell they will go, like the shot of an arrow;
Extreme misery, as though right in front of one's face. 4.

Confused, in a muddle they pass nights and days,
None distinguishing virtue and good.

Goodness and evil they never recognize,
As though they were swine and sheep.

Talking with them is like talking to trees or rocks;
Jealous and envious, as if they were stark-raving mad.

They themselves don't see their own faults,
Like pigs asleep in their pens.

They don't know they must pay;
To the contrary, they laugh at the ox pulling the mill. 5.

On the "three realms," see poem 197, note 3.
The "six paths" are the six possible fates that await one at death. See poem 72, note 2.
Read( Chinese Materia Medica: Animal Drugs, item 379) identifies the ch'ai as the "ch'ai wolf" (Canis lupus tchiliensis).
i.e., it will come that quickly. Or possibly, "as though it were fit" (jo wei tang).
i.e., they are as dumb and as trapped in this existence as the ox who goes 'round and 'round to move the millstone for grinding grains.

Comment: In the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō editions of the text, this poem is combined with the preceding (233) to form one poem (no. 231 in that count). Though both poems describe people in the three realms, there seems to be no other connection; the rhyme in each case is distinct (see Pulleyblank, " Linguistic Evidence for the Date of Han-shan," in Ronald C. Miao , Studies in Chinese Poetry and Politics, Vol. 1. San Francisco: CMC, 1978, p. 188).


No. 235

Man's life in this blanket of dust
Is just like [that of] a bug in a bowl.

All day long he goes 'round and 'round
And never gets out of his bowl.

Immortality he cannot attain;
Delusions he counts without end.

The months and the years flow by like a stream; 1.
In a moment he's become an old man.

See poem 49, note 3.


No. 236 *

Han-shan sets forth these words;
I repeat them, like some crazy man.

When I have something to say, I say it right to your face;
Hence, I have earned the resentment of men.

If the heart is sincere 1., the words set forth are direct;
With a direct heart, there is no behind. 2.

When you draw near to death and cross the river Nai-ho, 3.
[Then you will ask,] "Who was that babbling fool?!"

Dark, dark is the road to the grave;
By your karma you're tied and detained. 4.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Preferring the variant of chen ("sincere") to chih ("direct").
i.e., what he says is not two-sided, or he does not say one thing and mean another.
The river that is crossed as one enters the underworld.
Like a criminal in jail.


No. 237 *†

I've seen these men of great knowledge;
All day long they use up their spirits and minds.

At each fork in the road, they show off with their prattle, 1.
Cheating and deceiving all other men.

All they produce is the dregs that will lead them to Hell;
They do not practice the means to conduct upright and correct.

Suddenly death 2. will arrive;
Then their set knowledge will be thrown into confusion, chaotically scattered about.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
i.e., where others would hesitate about which direction to go.
Wu-ch'ang translates anitya "impermanence," but it is also com-monly used for death.

Missing from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō Library editions.


No. 238 *

I send these words to you many benevolent lords;
Time and again, what is it that you should hold dear?

Exhaust the Way and see your own nature;
Your own nature is none other than Tathāgata.

Your Heaven-given endowment, from the beginning, is sufficient and complete;
And when through practice you experience the truth, you will turn 'round and head home, your mission fulfilled. 1.

To reject the root and, to the contrary, pursue the branch
Is simply to maintain a position that's dumb!

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Ch'ai-hui is an expression used in official life.It means to return to one's home office, having been far away for a long time on a mission that is now complete. The task completed in the present case is the Buddhist task of knowing one's true self.That too is a return home with one's mission complete.


No. 239 *

In this world there's one kind of person;
He's not really bad—he's also not good.

He does not know the Lord who is master of men, 1.
So he follows the guest, turning first here then there. 2.

Just letting things slide, he passes his time;
Bemuddled! This stupid piece of sliced meat!

'Though he has his sacred terrace, 3.
It's only like the guest that he is a man. 4.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"Lord who is master of men" (chu-jen kung) is a name for Buddha‐ nature.
In some Zen sects (especially the Ts'ao-tung Sect), the opposition of subjective and objective reality—or the true Buddha-nature inside versus an objectively real world outside—is discussed in terms of the relationship of Host (chu) and Guest (k'o). Someone who "follows the guest" still believes in the reality of an objective, external realm and does not know the true Buddha-nature inside.On the five possible relationships of host and guest, see, for example, Heinrich Dumoulin, A History of Zen Buddhism ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), pp. 112-118; also Charles Luk, Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Vol. 2, pp. 127-157.
Ling-t'ai, "sacred terrace," is a name for the mind.It is also something a "ruler" would have, and King Wen of the Chou dynasty is famous for building one.
i.e., he has not yet realized his true mind and thus become one with the "host"—or his own Buddha-nature—inside.


No. 240 *

I've often heard that Śākyamuni Buddha
Previously received acknowledgement from Dīpaṁkara. 1.

With Dīpaṁkara and Śākyamuni,
We're simply discussing a case of former and latter wisdom.

Former and latter in essence were not in any way different;
In what is distinctive there's nothing distinct. 2.

In one Buddha and in all Buddhas,
The mind is the locus of the "thus come." 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Dīpaṁkara Buddha—"Lamplighter Buddha" (Jan-teng fo)—was the twenty-fourth predecessor of Śākyamuni. The Jui-ying ching (T. 185, Vol. 3, pp. 472-473) records that Śākyamuni (not yet a Buddha) met Dīpaṁkara when the latter was Buddha and scattered seven lotus flowers in front of him, five of which stood still in mid-air.Moreover, he threw his hair over mud and let Dīpaṁkara walk across it. As a result, he was recognized by Dīpaṁkara as a future Buddha and informed that he would become a Buddha in 91 kalpas.
One cannot pull off in English what Han-shan does in Chinese.In what is i—"different," but also "rare," "unique," hence "distinct"—there is nothing i.
i.e., Tathāgata, Buddha-nature.


No. 241 *

I've often heard of these great ministers of state;
Robes purple and red, hair pins, chin straps and salary! 1.

Wealth and rank—one hundred, one thousand kinds;
They lust after glory, never knowing disgrace.

Servants and horses fill their houses and sheds;
Gold and silver overflow in their treasury rooms.

Stupidly blind to the fact that good fortune is but a temporary support,
They bury their heads, doing things that will lead them to Hell.

Suddenly they die—all matters then come to an end;
Sons and daughters in front of them weep.

They didn't know there would be this calamity and disaster;
The road out in front—how fast it went by! 2.

The family in ruins—cold winds sigh and moan
For food—not one kernel of grain.

Freezing and hungry, bitter, pathetic and sad;
Truly this is because they went along unaware, bumping into this and then that.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
All symbols of high-ranking nobles. The "hair pins" (tsan) and "chin straps" (ying) keep on their official caps.
i.e., their future.


No. 242

The highest of men have minds that are sharp and quick;
They hear things just once and know the best part.

Those in the middle have minds that are pure and clear;
When they think it over with care, they can tell you what's most important to know.

Gents at the bottom are dull, stupid, and dumb!
Obstinate and perverse, they're the hardest to crack. 1.

They simply wait 'til the blood drips from their heads;
Only then do they start to know they've been defeated, destroyed!

You've all seen—we can take, for example, the thief with wide open eyes, 2.
Who is executed in the bustling market where people have gathered.

His corpse thrown away like it's dust;
At this time to whom will he speak?

A great man, a truly great hero,
With one stroke will be cut into two.

People with human faces but hearts of birds and beasts;
Their crafty deeds—when will they ever end?

One hears in the background the words of Confucius in Analects 16: 9 (p. 34). D. C. Lau (Confucius: The Analects, p. 140) translates: "Confucius said, 'Those who are born with knowledge are the highest. Next come those who attain knowledge through study. Next again come those who turn to study after having been vexed by difficulties. The common people, in so far as they make no effort to study even after having been vexed by difficulties, are the lowest."'
It is not clear if his eyes are "open" because he now recognizes his wrong or if they're wide open in fear.


No. 243

I have six older and younger brothers;
In the lot there's one that is evil.

Though you strike him, you can't really touch him;
Though you scold him, you will not succeed.

With all of his traits, there's just no hope;
Addicted to wealth, he loves to be lewd and cause harm.

When he sees what he likes, in his craving he has thoughts of only one thing;
His greedy mind is worse than those of the demons. 1.

Our father hates to see him;
Our mother detests him; she's not at all pleased.

Last night he was apprehended by me;
I berated him, telling him he must restrain these wild feelings.

I used this chance to confront him with his inhuman traits; 2.
Speaking to him about each of them one by one.

"You must immediately change your conduct;
'If the cart overturns, you must alter the track.' 3.

If you don't believe me and accept this advice;
I'll share in your evil—together we'll be put to death.

If you accept my advice and calm and subdue your passions,
Together with you I'll seek life."

From that time on, he's been completely agreeable and pleasant,
And now he's even surpassed the bodhisattvas!

To study his new occupation, he applied himself at the forge, 4.
And when his refining was through, he had fashioned three mountains of iron. 5.

And now he is tranquil and calm;
Everyone praises him and is pleased.

The rākṣasas (lo-ch'a).
Translation is tentative. The line might also mean, "I took advantage of this situation to go to a place where there were no people," or "He's headed in a direction where there are no other people." The line is ch'en hsiang wu-jen ch'u ("take advantage towards without people place").
A common saying cited in the biography of Chia I( Han shu48; Vol. 8, p. 2251) is relevant here: "If the cart in front overturns, carts behind should beware."
"Study his new occupation" (hsüeh-yeh) also means "cultivate his karma."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 328) cite evidence from P'ang chü-shih yü-lu to show that "three mountains of iron" (san-shan t'ieh) means the three kinds of karma—those of word, thought, and deed.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 327) follow Hakuin ( Kanzan shi sendai kibun. 3: 11-12) in identifying the six brothers as the six senses or first six consciousnesses (eye consciousness, ear consciousness, nose consciousness, tongue consciousness, body consciousness, and thought or idea consciousness (i-shih). It is the sixth consciousness that is bad and needs to be reformed. Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, pp. 131‐ 132) goes even further, arguing that the "father" is the "seventh" consciousness (manas-vijn̅āna—intellection, reason, thought center) and the "mother" would then be the "eighth consciousness" or ālaya-vijñāna, the storehouse of all the seeds of experience. (For a full discussion of the eight consciousnesses and how they interact according to the Consciousness‐ Only School, see Fung Yu-lan [translated by Derk Bodde], A History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. II, pp. 299-338.) Though this interpretation is very appealing, the culprit in "Consciousness-Only" terms is the "seventh" consciousness, which always clings to the reality of self and things; here the "evil" brother is one of the six.


No. 244 *

In former days I was extremely impoverished and poor;
Night after night, I'd count up the treasures of others. 1.

But today I've thought it over with care;
I myself must build up my own stock of wealth.

Digging, I found a real treasure store,
Filled completely with crystal pearls. 2.

But a full-grown, blue-eyed barbarian 3.
Secretly planned to buy it and take it away.

Then I replied to him with these words:
"These pearls have no price you can set."4.

Pulleyblank: couplets 3, 4, and 5— Han-shan II.
Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 132), correctly points out that in terms of the allegory of the poem, this means that he was reading about the enlightenment experiences of others instead of having his own— he was looking for the truth outside instead of looking inside.
i.e., Buddha-nature.
The "blue-eyed barbarian" (pi-yen hu) in Zen texts normally means Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen in China.It can also simply mean a foreigner from Central Asia.
On the "priceless jewel," see poem 195, note 3.


No. 245 *

All my life I've been lazy and lax about work;
Hating the heavy, I only find fit what is light!

Others might study for a trade or career,
But I hold on to only one book.

I'm of no mind to mount it as a scroll;
In going and coming, this saves me from carrying it around.

In accord with the disease, we prescribe the medicine; 1.
Using the expedient method 2., we save all living things.

If one's mind is simply unconcerned with affairs,
In what place will it not be enlightened?

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
A common Buddhist saying (normally ying-ping yü-yao) referring to the way in which the Buddha tailors his message to the capacity of the listener.
The term is fang-pien (upāya); this line means essentially the same as the one before.


No. 246 *

I've seen these people who've "left home"; 1.
They don't really get into their "leaving home" studies.

If you want to know what it means to really leave home,
It's to have a pure mind with no attachments or ties.

Clear and calm, completely sublime and profound;
Like-so like-so 2., relying on none for support.

Through the three realms he moves at his will, 3. back and forth, up and down;
The four forms of birth cannot make him stay. 4.

The person who does not act, who's unconcerned with affairs,
Is free, unrestrained, and truly knows happiness and joy.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Ch'u-chia (pravraj), to leave home and become a monk or a nun.
Ju-ju means the same as chen-ju, tathatā, tathatā being that level of reality that's really real. It is what it is in itself, depending on nothing for its existence.
On the "three realms" in Buddhist cosmology, see poem 197, note 3.
The "four forms of birth" (ssu-sheng, catur-yoni) are: (1) things that are born from the womb; (2) things that are born from an egg; (3) things that are born from water (e.g., fishes and worms); and (4) things that are born by transformation/metamorphosis (e.g., moths and butterflies).


No. 247 *

Yesterday I went to an abbey up in the clouds,
Where I suddenly met an honored immortal.

With his starry cap 1. and his moon cape draped over his shoulders,
He spoke to me in great detail about living in the mountains and streams.

I asked about the method for becoming an immortal; 2.
He replied, "The Way—to what does it compare?

We call it the Powerful, the Supreme;
The Profound Drugs are the heart's divine secret.

Maintaining the Way until death, we wait for our cranes to come,
Though everyone says we depart riding on fish." 3.

I then repeatedly thought this through;
Upon investigation, it made no sense at all!

Just look at an arrow shot into the air;
In a short while, it still falls back to the ground.

Even if you're one of those people who attains immortality,
You're just like a ghost holding on to his corpse. 4.

The mind like the moon, in itself is pure and bright;
The ten thousand forms—how can they compare?

If you want to know the method for compounding the immortal elixir
Inside your body, the original soul—this is it! 5.

Never study the arts of Master Yellow Turban; 6.
Holding fast to your ignorance and obstinately maintaining your determination.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
The "star hats" (hsing-kuan) worn by Taoist adepts are described by Edward Schafer in his Pacing the Void: T'ang Approaches to the Stars ( Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1977), pp. 224-227. No pictures of them remain.But some are noted with the twenty-eight "lunar lodges" depicted on them; others have the sun and moon and five planets.Typically the Taoist wears a "feather cloak" that goes along with his "star hat," but Schafer cites lines from a poem by Li Hsün (p. 225) where a Taoist is "moon cloaked," as in the line we have here.
A "divine immortal" (shen-hsien)—which is what the text says— normally means just an immortal.However, in some cases a distinction is drawn between Heavenly Immortals, Earthly Immortals, and Water Immortals: one who can transform into any one of the three is a "divine immortal."
Apparently alluding to the story of Ch'in Kao( Lieh-hsien chuan5b‐ 6a; Max Kaltenmark, Le Lie-sien Tchouan [ Beijing: Centre d'études sinologiques de Pékin, 1953], pp. 104-107), who, on entering the waters of the Cho River, told his disciples to fast and wait for him at a temple they should set up on the shores of the stream.He appeared, at the appointed time, riding out of the river on a red carp.
Han-shan has a clever comeback to the Taoist who said, "Maintaining [the Way] until death [shou-ssu] we wait.... " Such people to Han‐ shan are "ghosts who hold on to their corpses [shou-shih kuei]."
Han-shan seems to have in mind the Taoist practice of nei-tan, "inner alchemy," where the adept, in meditation, identifies various parts of his body with the various ingredients and apparatuses used to produce an actual chemical elixir and thus refines an inner elixir inside his body. Hanshan's point is that we have that immortal soul from the start—the Buddha‐ nature inside.
"Master Yellow Turban" (Huang-chin kung) is presumably Chang Chüeh, founder of the T'ai-p'ing tao ( Way of Great Peace) sect in the second century A.D. and leader of the Yellow Turban revolt in 184. It is with the Way of the Celestial Master (T'ien-shih tao), founded by Chang Chüeh's contemporary Chang Tao-ling, that we associate the beginnings of organized Taoism.Perhaps the most thorough account of the activities of Chang Chüeh in English is Barbara Kandel's book, Taiping Jing: The Origin and Transmission of the 'Scripture on General Welfare'—the History of an Unofficial Text ( Hamburg: Gesellschaft für Natur und Völkerkunde Ostasiens e.V., 1979).

There is a variant of Huang-shih kung— Master Yellow Stone—for Huang-chin kung. Master Yellow Stone was a Ch'in ( B.C. 221-209) recluse who gave Chang Liang a book on military tactics that helped him go on to be the great general who helped to establish the Han dynasty in 206. See Shih-chi (Vol. 6, pp. 2034-2035).


No. 248 *

In my village there is one house; 1.
In this house there is no true lord. 2.

Here the ground grows one inch of grass,
And the water descends in one drop of dew.

Fire consumes the "six thieves";
Wind blows away the black clouds and rain.

If you look closely for the inhabitant;
It's just that true pearl wrapped in coarse cloth. 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Preferring the variant of hsiang ("village") to chia ("family").
The symbolism seems to be that the house is here the body: the true lord (chen-chu) would then be an ātman.
i.e., Buddha-nature.The "inhabitant" is literally, the "original man" (pen-jen).

Comment: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi , p. 342) confess that while there is no difficulty in understanding each individual line in this poem, it is not clear what the whole means. Ch'en Hui- chien ( Han- shan- tzu , p. 211) is the only commentator I know to see that Han- shan is talking about the "four constituent elements of reality" (ssu- ta, mahābhūta): earth, water, fire, and wind; these are the things that make up one's body. That is not all; the symbolism of the poem is rich in other ways. "One square inch" ( fang- ts'un ) is another name for the mind; in addition, in Taoism all things start in the beginning with the Tao, from the "one square inch." Secondly, a number of Zen texts speak of a "one drop of water Zen" ( i- ti ch'an ), with the idea that all truths are contained in a single drop of water. Next, the "six thieves" mean the six senses in Buddhism— or rather, the activities of the senses— i. e., seeing, smelling, tasting— because they lust after beautiful sights, smells, and so on. And finally, the clouds blown away are most likely the clouds of ignorance that keep us from seeing the truth.


No. 249 *

I send along these words to the various sons of the rich;
You've all heard tell of Shih Ch'i-nu. 1.

Of servants and slaves—he had eight hundred people;
Water-driven mills in thirty locations. 2.

Beneath his cottage, they raised fish and birds;
Upstairs, they blew on the sheng and the yü.3.

Still he stuck out his head as he drew near the smooth blade;
Blindly in love, for the sake of Green Pearl.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II(?).
Shih Ch'i-nu was Shih Ch'ung ( A.D. 249-300), Ch'i-nu being the name he was called as a young boy.He was a man who enjoyed great wealth and power, but he was executed in 300 for plotting against the Prince of Chao, Ssu-ma Lun.He had earlier offended Sun Hsiu, who was on good terms with Ssu-ma Lun, by refusing to give Sun Hsiu one of his female entertainers, the beautiful Green Pearl.For these events, see Shih‐ shuo hsin-yü 36: 1and accompanying notes ( Yang Yung, Shih-shuo hsin-yü chiao-chien, pp. 692-693; Richard Mather, Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World, pp. 489-491). See especially, the note cited from Kan Pao 's Chin-chi.
Specifically, mills for hulling his rice.
The sheng is a kind of mouth organ with bamboo pipes of varying lengths—thirteen pipes in all. The yü is a similar instrument with a total of thirty-six pipes.


No. 250 *

Why am I always so disappointed and sad?
Man's life is like that of the morning mushroom. 1.

How can we bear it, that within several tens of years,
Relatives and old friends get old, decline, and vanish?

Thinking of this makes me sad;
Sad feelings I cannot endure.

What can I do? What should I do?
I'll abandon this body 2. and retire to the mountains.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II(?).
Alluding to the lines in Chuang-tzu, Chapter 1 (1: 1:10), "The morning mushroom knows nothing of twilight and dawn; the summer cicada knows nothing of spring and autumn" (translated by Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, p. 30). These are things that only live a short time.
Reading the variant of t'o ("abandon," "take off") for t'o ("entrust to").


No. 251

These worn-out clothes are connected to previous karma
Never blame the bodies we have today.

If you say these come from the grave,
You're all just the dumbest of men!

If in the end you turn into a ghost;
Could you make sons and daughters be poor?

This is clear—a matter that's easily understood;
Why are you lacking in spirit?

Note: Reflecting the common Chinese belief in geomancy—that the location of one's grave (and one's home) in relation to surrounding geographic features can determine good or bad fortune for one's descendants. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 345-346) also see this poem as a Buddhist criticism of geomancy.For a good account of geomancy in English, see Stephan Feuchtwang's An Anthropological Analysis of Chinese Geomancy ( Taipei: Southern Materials Center, 1982).


No. 252

I've seen the water in the Yellow River;
Altogether it's cleared just a few times. 1.

Water flows like a fast-flying arrow;
Human life is like floating duckweed.

To belong to things stupid—this is our basic karma;
Ignorance is kleśa's pitfall. 2.

Transmigration through several kalpas
Simply makes us deluded and blind.

See poem 64, note 1.
i.e., if we fall into ignorance, then we are totally immersed in kleśa (delusion and pain).

Note: Note how the parallel between water and human life established in couplet two is pulled apart at the end.Though the water of the Yellow River (which is naturally muddy) might nonetheless on occasion dear (i.e., the silt settles), our ignorance is made worse as we pass through time (last couplet).


No. 253

The Two Forms having opened and spread, 1.
Mankind thus lives in between.

If he wishes to lead you astray, he spews forth mist;
If he wants you to be enlightened, he blows out the wind.

If he takes pity, you'll enjoy wealth and rank;
If he snatches away, you'll be needy and poor.

Oh, you common untalented masses of people,
All matters come from Lord Heaven. 2.

The "Two Forms" (erh-i) are the two principles of creation—Yin and Yang.
Lord Heaven (T'ien-kung) no doubt means "Nature" or the natural forces of Yin and Yang, not a deity.

Note: In the second couplet, Han-shan seems to allude to the Chinese belief—much developed by the Neo-Confucians—that one's nature can be determined by the atmospheric conditions at the time of one's birth.For more on this, see, for example, the words of Chu Hsi (1130-1200) translated by Wing-tsit Chan ( A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy [ Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963], pp. 624-625). More complete—and more interesting—are the words of Chia Yü-ts'un at the beginning of the great Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber: see David Hawkes' translation, Cao Xueqin: The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1 ( New York: Penguin Books, 1973), pp. 76-80. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 350) note that this is a completely Chinese view of fate; it is not Buddhist.See also poem 112.


No. 254

I urge all of you children,
Quickly get out of that burning house!

The three carts are sitting outside of the gate;
Riding them, you can avoid the life of the homeless drifter.

When you sit in an open place at the crossroads,
That very day, all matters will be empty and void.

The ten directions have no above or below;
In coming and going, it matters not if you go east or west.

If you attain the mind that's inside, 1.
This way or that—you can move everywhere.

On ke-chung i as "the mind that's inside," see poem 105, note 4.

Note: On the parable of the burning house in the Lotus-sūtra, see the comment to poem 189. Here lines 2 and 5 virtually quote from the original text (for which, see T. 262, Vol. 9, p. 12 middle and bottom). Parallel to line 5 in the original is: "At this time, the great man, seeing that his children have contrived to get out safely and that all are seated in an open space at a crossroads is no longer troubled" (translated by Hurvitz, Scripture of the Lotus Blossom, p. 59; emphasis added).


No. 255 *

Lamentable! The men in this floating life;
It goes on and on—on what day will it end?

Day after day, they have no leisure time;
Year after year—unaware that they're getting old.

All of this done for the purpose of seeking clothing and food,
Making their minds produce delusion and pain. 1.

Confused and perplexed for one hundred, one thousand years,
They come and they go through the three evil ways. 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Kleśa (fan-nao).
That is, the three evil destinies—to be reborn as an animal, become a hungry ghost, or suffer in hell.


No. 256 *

Men in these times search for the road through the clouds,
But the cloud-road's obscure—there's no trace.

The mountains are high, with many steep narrow passes;
The streams are broad, with little brightness of day.

Emerald-green cliffs in front and behind;
White clouds, to the west and, what's more, to the east.

If you want to know where you find the cloud-road,
The cloud-road is here in the sky. 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Hsü-k'ung being the "sky" but also śūnya ("Emptiness"), the general Mahāyāna qualifier of all things—i.e., the "way" to enlightenment (to get above the clouds) lies in the realization of the emptiness of all things; there is no set path that one must follow.

Comment: The poem is an allegory on the Zen quest for enlightenment, symbolized by reaching the top of the peak, beyond the clouds (of ignorance), up with the sun and the moon in the clear sky.There is no set path for us to follow, and/or that "way" is obscure (couplet 1). And when we set out, the obstacles (mountains to climb and rivers to cross) seem insurmountable (couplet 2). But when we realize the truth, we find that we have been at the top all along (i.e., we look out at the peaks and clouds down below [couplet 3]): such realization comes from perceiving the "emptiness" of all things (couplet 4).


No. 257

Han-shan is a place that is hidden away,
Cut off from impure men passing by.

At times I encounter some birds in the woods,
And together with them sing mountain songs.

Auspicious grasses connect valleys and dales; 1.
Old pines, pillowed against jagged peaks.

And here you can see a traveller who's free from all cares,
At rest at the foot of a cliff.

Jui-ts'ao are plants that one seldom sees; when you see them it is a sign of good things to come. They are literally "omen grasses."


No. 258 *

The five sacred mountains have all turned to dust; 1.
Sumeru's a "peak" one inch high.

The great ocean's no more than one drop of water,
which I imbibe and take into the field of my mind. 2.

Give birth to, develop, your bodhi seeds; 3.
Everywhere cover the God among gods. 4.

I tell you admirers of the Way,
Be careful to never get entangled in the Ten Cords. 5.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
On the "five sacred peaks" (wu-yüeh) see poem 112, note 2.
Hsin-t'ien: the mind is a field in which one can plant the seeds of good or evil deeds. On "one inch" and "one drop of water," see poem 248. Note that here the "one drop of water," ch'an, having watered the field of his mind, gives birth to and develops the bodhi seeds.
P'u-t'i tzu, the seeds of enlightened wisdom.Note how this connects with line 4. One of the ways to establish the equality of things in Buddhism is to realize that all things are nothing but thoughts, and as thoughts, Mount Sumeru and—for example—a small seed are the same. As thoughts, they occupy the same space in the mind. This way of understanding things seems to lie behind the lines of this poem. For the equality of Mount Sumeru and a mustard seed, as this is explained in the T'ien-t'ai school, see, for example, Fung Yu-lan (translated by Derk Bodde), A History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 2, pp. 370-375.
The "God among gods" (t'ien-chung t'ien, devātideva) is Śākyamuni. This is a title given to him when he went to a temple and all the statues of the gods in the temple bowed down to him. The "cover" (kai) is the canopy or parasol which is over the Buddha.One might also read, "[Let them] everywhere cover the God among gods," meaning that one should develop—let grow—his bodhi seeds until they become the great bodhi tree of wisdom that "covered" the Buddha in his night of enlightenment.
The "Ten Cords" (shih-ch'an) are explained by Soothill and Hodous ( A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, p. 52) as the "ten bonds that bind men to mortality—to be shameless, unblushing, envious, mean, regretful, torpid, drowsy, absorbed, angry [and] secretive (of sin)."


No. 259

When you lack clothes, you must search for some on your own;
Never scheme with the fox how to get furs.

When you lack food, you must gather some on your own;
Never scheme with the lamb how to get rich things to eat.

If the fox loans you its hide and the lamb loans you its meat,
They will harbor regrets and, what's more, harbor feelings of grief.

This is because justice has lost its right place;
Clothing and food can never be just "handed out."

Comment: Similar in tenor and language to poem 212. Here too the message is that you must seek enlightenment on your own.The "fox and the lamb" stand for Buddhist masters who already have what the beginner wants (i.e., rich furs and rich foods = enlightenment). But for them to give these things away would be like giving away their very own bodies.Enlightenment—unlike food and clothing—cannot simply be distributed, handed out to the needy (the meaning of chou). "Scheme" is mou, in the sense of mou sheng-huo, "plan out how to make a living."


No. 260

I truly delight in the joys that I find in the mountains;
I wander here unrestrained—relying on nothing, with no support.

Day after day I nourish this decrepit frame,
Think idle thoughts—there's nothing I have to do.

From time to time I unroll some old Buddhist books;
Frequently climb up to some rocky hall. 1.

Below I peer out over thousand foot drops;
Above me, there's the vast expanse of the clouds.

Cold moon so chilling—it's light, crisp, and cool; 2.
My body—like that of a lone flying crane.

i.e., that big—as big as, or in the shape of, a pavilion.
Sou-sou is normally glossed as either the sound of wind or the sound of rain. But it also refers to the "crisp and cool" light of the moon.


No. 261 *

I've seen the Cakravartī king; 1.
His one thousand sons, constantly circle 'round. 2.

His Ten Good Traits 3. transport him to the Four Heavens, 4.
August and stately, adorned with the Seven Jewels. 5.

The Seven Jewels weigh him down, on his body wherever he goes;
August and stately, truly exquisite and fine.

But then one day his blessed reward 6. will be all used up,
And he'll be like the birds who nest in the weeds. 7.

Or perhaps he'll be a bug on the neck of an ox; 8.
In the six kinds of rebirth, 9. he will enjoy the effects of his karmic ways.

All the more will this be true for all common men;
Being impermanent 10.—how can they preserve life for long?

Life and death are like spinning flames; 11.
Our lives in transmigration, as numerous 12. as hemp plants or rice.

If you don't understand that you must early become enlightened,
You'll be a man who becomes old in vain.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
A "Cakravartī-rājan" (chuan-lun wang) is a universal ruler, literally— Soothill and Hodous tell us ( A Dictionary, p. 469) "a ruler, the wheels of whose chariot roll everywhere without hindrance." He justly rules the entire world.
Wu-ch'ang, anitya.
A hsüan-huo is a spinning flame that seems to be a real wheel but is not.
Following Iritani and Matsumura's interpretation.
Having one thousand sons who surround or circumambulate (weijao) him is one of the marks of a Cakravartī-rājan.
The "Ten Good Traits" (shih-shan) result from not committing the Ten Evils, which are ( Soothill and Hodous [ A Dictionary, p. 50]): "killing, stealing, adultery, lying, double-tongue, coarse language, filthy language, covetousness, anger, and perverted views."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 358) understand the "Four Heavens" to mean the "Four Kings of Heaven" (ssu t'ien-wang)— i.e., the guardians of the four directions.One who fervently upholds the ten rules will, in his next life, become one of these kings.
The "Seven Jewels" (ch'i-pao, saptaratna) are the seven treasures possessed by a Cakravartī. There are two lists.The treasures that specifically go with the Cakravartī are (from Soothill and Hodous, A Dictionary, p. 12): "(1) the golden wheel, (2) elephants, (3) dark swift horses, (4) the divine pearl or beautiful pearls, (5) able ministers of the Treasury, (6) jewels of women, and (7) daring generals." The other list of Seven Jewels is more general.In that list the seven are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, white and red pearls, and cornelia.The "Seven Jewels" in our line are something the Cakravartī wears.This might make the second list more relevant. But the author might still mean the first list, speaking in a figurative way.
Fu-pao; his fortunate rebirth as a Cakravartī is a reward for his pre-vious good deeds.
In Seng Chao's "Pao-tsang lun" (T. 1857, Vol. 45, p. 144 top), "sick birds that nest in the weeds" (ping-niao ch'i-lu) are cited as examples of things that "reject the great and seek for the small"; they are "not known in the forests" and "rest content with small contentment."
Such insects are easily crushed when the oxen are yoked to pull carts.
The "six kinds of rebirth" (liu-ch'ü, six gatis).


No. 262

Across open fields—the waters broad and wide;
Cinnabar Mound linking up with Four Brights. 1.

Immortal City 2.—most high and sublime;
Its many peaks soar above kingfisher-blue screens.

Far off, far off I gaze—where does it end?
Jagged, uneven—its appearance beckons to me.

Alone it towers beyond the edge of the sea;
Spread everywhere is its fine name.

For " Cinnabar Mound (tan-ch'iu), see poem 194, note 1. Han-shan seems to mean by it just another name for T'ien-t'ai.The location of an actual "Cinnabar Mound" 90 li south of Ning-hai County seems to place it outside of the T'ien-t'ai range.The "Four Brights" (ssu-ming) is the name of a mountain range located southwest of Yin County in Chekiang.The Taoists regard Four Brights as the locus of one of their "cavern heavens," named Cinnabar Mountain Red Water (tan-shan-ch'ih-shui). There is thought to be a gate above the mountain that leads to the sun, the moon, the planets, and stars—hence its name.The northwest tip of the T'ien-t'ai range is contiguous with the southwest tip of the Ssu-ming range.
"Immortal City" (hsien-tu) can simply mean a place where immortals are found, but Sun Ch'o does come to an "Immortal City" when roaming T'ien-t'ai ("Ascending and descending, I have passed two days and nights, and come at last to Hsien-tu, City of Immortals"—translated by Richard Mather , " The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains," p. 241). Mather implies that this mountain is not an actual peak in T'ien-t'ai, however, noting that in legend it is "located in the Ts'ang-hai part of the North China Sea (note 90, p. 241)."

There was an actual mountain named "Immortal City" in Chekiang to the east of Chin-yün County.The original name of this mountain was Chin-yün, but the name was changed to Hsien-tu in the seventh year of T'ien-pao (748). The Taoists regard Hsien-tu as "cavern heaven" 29. This mountain would seem, however—like the Cinnabar Mound noted above— because of its location, to be outside of the T'ien-t'ai range. ( Chin-yün County is southwest of T'ien-t'ai.)


No. 263 *†

Estimable! This "one name" mountain; 1.
The Seven Jewels—how can they compare? 2.

The moon through the pines—crisp and cool its cold [light].
White and pink clouds—bit by bit they arise.

To go all the way 'round—several layers of mountains;
To make the trip back—a good many li.

Valley streams, tranquil—so still and bright;
My happiness here knows no end.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
I.e., it's name is number one—it is the best.However, the "one name" (i-ming) is also the one truth or one reality in Buddhism.There is only one truth (and thus only one true name)—nirvāṇa. But the one reality is, on occasion, called many different things—e.g., wu-wei (acting without taking action), wu-hsiang (the markless), and so forth.
On the "Seven Jewels"—see poem 261, note 5. The point would seem to be that to realize the one truth of Buddhism is of much greater value than becoming a mere Cakravartī.

Missing from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō library editions.


No. 264 *

I've seen the men in this world;
They live for a while, and then they return to death.

Yesterday morn—like being sixteen; 1.
Young gents in their prime, filled with energy and ambition.

But as for today—already past seventy years;
Strength all used up—in appearance haggard and worn.

They're just like flowers on a spring day;
In the morning they bloom—at night they simply fall and decay.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Literally, "two eights" (erh-pa).


No. 265

Lofty, erect, reaching up far away—beyond the boundary of heaven; 1.
The road in the clouds—distant and steep.

The cascading stream drops ten thousand feet,
Like a strand of spread-out, softened white silk.

Below is "Rest Your Mind" Cave;
Set firmly across is "Fate is Set" Bridge. 2.

Of imposing sights that overpower the world,
The name of T'ien-t'ai alone rises above all the rest.

Hsiao-han can also mean the Milky Way.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 362) feel that "Rest Your Mind" Cave (ch'i-hsin k'u) and "Fate is Set" Bridge (ting-ming ch'iao) were two of the natural wonders in the T'ien-t'ai mountains.They add that, according to one source, "Fate is Set" Bridge was a natural rock on the top of T'ien-t'ai which fell down during the Yüan, and they seem to identify this with the Stone Bridge noted in poem 44.


No. 266

I sit here on top of this large and firm rock;
Streams in the valleys—cold, icy and chilled.

For my quiet amusement I prefer the exquisite and fine;
Empty cliffs—wrapped in mist, dim and vague.

Happy, contented—I rest in this place;
With the sun's last slanting rays tree shadows grow low.

As for me, I look into 1. the base of my mind, 2.
And a lotus blossom emerges from the filthy mud. 3.

Kuan ("look into") translates vipaśyanā— contemplation or insight— and is normally paired with chih (śamatha), the stillness of mind which precedes insight.
Hsin-ti, the mind as the ground of all thought (and therefore all reality).
The image is common enough in Buddhism to require no documentation.But one does find almost exactly these same words (there, lien‐ hua ch'u tzu wu-ni) in the Ta-chih-tu lun (Ch. 14; T. 1509, Vol. 25, p. 163 middle).


No. 267 *

When recluses escape from life among men,
Many go to the mountains to sleep.

Bluish-green creepers—sparsely placed, in profusion they grow; 1.
Emerald-green mountain streams—their tinkling sounds unbroken go on.

Steady and slow 2.—moreover, contented with joy;
Unhurried, at ease—they keep themselves both calm and pure.

Avoiding contact with the tainted affairs of the world,
Their hearts remain spotless like white lotus blooms.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II (?).
"In profusion" is a guess at the meaning of lu-lu. By itself, lu means "the foot of a mountain" or "a large forest," but lu-lu must describe shu ("coarse")—i.e., the way in which the creepers are far apart.Note that there is a homophone lu-lu that does mean "luxuriant" or "flourish."
T'eng-t'eng ("steady and slow") can also mean "as though asleep."


No. 268

I send these words to you meat-eating men;
Your time for eating will not long remain.

For this present life, you planted the seeds in the past;
For lives not yet come, you cultivate karma today.

You only hold on to the present day's beauty,
Not fearing the woes of lives yet to come.

When the old rat gets into the rice jar,
Though he may eat his fill, he'll find it hard to get his head out! 1.

I.e., we pay for our present gluttony by being trapped in this kind of life; we cannot get out of saṁsāra.


No. 269 *

Ever since I "left home," 1.
Bit by bit I've acquired an interest in nourishing life. 2.

I've stretched and drawn back 3., making my four limbs whole;
With diligence listened, making my six senses complete. 4.

My coarse woolen robe is with me winter and spring;
Unpolished rice sustains me morning and night.

Today, earnest and eager, I practice,
Hoping to run into the Buddha.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II (?).
Ch'u-chia (pravraj) is the formal ceremony of going off to a monas-tery to become a monk or a nun.
Yang-sheng, "nourishing life," refers to a set of practices we normally associate with Taoists.To nourish one's life in hope of living a very long time, one normally does certain breathing exercises, avoids consuming meat, wine, and grains, and eats instead certain long-life minerals and herbs. For a thorough discussion, see Henri Maspero, " Methods of 'Nourishing the Vital Principle' in the Ancient Taoist Religion," in his Taoism and Chinese Religion, translated by Frank A. Kierman, Jr. ( Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1981), pp. 445-554.
Shen-su, "stretched and drawn back," refers to the calisthenics done by "life-nourishing" adepts in conjunction with their breathing exer-cises.
The "six roots" (liu-ken) are, for Buddhists, the six sense organs— the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.When these are perfected, their functions can be interchanged. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 366) feel that to "listen with diligence" refers to training all senses, not just hearing.


No. 270

Of five-character poems, I've written five hundred;
With seven characters, seventy-nine.

In three-character lines, twenty-one;
Altogether that comes to six hundred shou.

All are the same, written on the cliff rocks;
I praise myself saying, "You've got a good hand!"

If you can understand my poems,
You're truly Tathagata's mother. 1.

Or possibly, "You're truly the Tathāgata mother." Tathāgata is called the "mother of sentient beings" in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (T. 375, Ch. 35, Vol. 12, p. 838 top).

Comment: The discrepancy between this number and the actual number of poems in the various Han-shan collections (e.g., the CTS collection has 285 five-character poems, 20 seven-character poems, and 6 three‐ character poems, giving a total of 311) does not go unnoticed.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 406, note to poem 298) point out that this may mean that many Han-shan poems are lost.It is also possible, they feel, that Han-shan arbitrarily used these numbers to make the wording sound good, or to end up with the nice round number of 600. They follow the Wu-shan edition in placing this poem at the end of the five-character poems, feeling the poem is intended as a summary of what went before.


No. 271

Worldly affairs—how they trouble our thoughts; 1.
Those who thirst after life are never willing to rest. 2.

If you want to grind to extinction this rock of great earth, 3.
When will you have time to lay down your head?

The four seasons go 'round as they transform and change;
The eight festive days 4. speed by like a fast-flowing stream.

To repay the burning house lord,
Out in the open ride on the white ox. 5.

Following the variant reading of ho yu-yu for jao yu-yu. The latter reading would work as well: "Entangled in worldly affairs—our thoughts troubled and anxious."
Following the variant reading of wei-k'en hsiu for tsao-wan hsiu. The latter might be read as, "[Those who] thirst after life, sooner or later [must] rest."
That is, the whole world. Han-shan seems to have in mind people who want to understand every single thing, since the words are yen-chin, "grind to extinction," but also "examine" or "research" to extinction.
The pa-chieh are the first days of the four seasons and the equinoxes and solstices.
An allusion once again to the "burning house" story in the Lotus‐ sūtra (see poems 189 and 254). The "white ox [cart]" (pai-niu ch'e) is the vehicle of Mahāyāna.The ox cart is waiting outside the gate of the house in "uncovered" or "open" land (lu-ti).


No. 272 *

Laughable! This cave of five shades; 1.
With the four snakes together we live. 2.

Gloomy and dark—we have no bright candles;
The three poisons—in succession by them we're pursued. 3.

For companions and cohorts we have the six thieves, 4.
Who plunder and steal our dharma-wealth pearls.

If you can slaughter and expel the troops of Mara's army,
You'll then feel calm and at peace—clear and deep, as though reborn.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
The "five shades" (wu-yin) are the five skandhas, the five aggregates of human life—i.e., form, feeling, will, perception, and consciousness.This is an early translation; later wu-yün is preferred.
The "four snakes" (ssu-she) are the four elements of physical nature—earth, water, fire and wind.See the comment to poem 248.
The "three poisons" (san-tu) are anger, greed, and ignorance.
i.e., the six senses—eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.See the comment to poem 248.


No. 273

I've often heard of Emperor Wu of the Han,
And as well of the First Emperor of Ch'in. 1.

They both took delight in the "immortal" arts,
But they extended their years, in the end, not very long! 2.

Their Golden Terraces—already smashed up and destroyed; 3.
Sandy Mound—subsequently extinguished, wiped out. 4.

Mao-ling and Li-yüeh5.
Today are covered by weeds far and wide.

Han Wu-ti's reign dates are 141-87 B.C.; Ch'in Shih-huang-ti's reign dates are 247-210 B.C.
Han Wu-ti's and Ch'in Shih-huang-ti's interest in the arts of immortality are well known.The former employed the magician Li Shao-chün to concoct for him the elixir of immortality; the latter is said to have sent a group of youths off China's east coast to search for the Isles of the Blessed. See, for example, Holmes Welch, Taoism: The Parting of the Way ( Boston: Beacan Press, 1957), pp. 97-105, and Ying-shih Yü, " Life and Immortality in the Mind of Han China," The Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 25 ( 1964-65): 80-122.
"Golden" is understood to simply mean "beautiful." Han Wu-ti built a famous terrace named Po-liang t'ai ( Cypress Beam Terrace), which was situated northwest of Ch'ang-an County in Shensi.
" Sandy Mound" (sha-ch'iu) was northeast of the present-day Pinghsiang County in Hopeh Province. Ch'in Shih-huang-ti died at Sandy Mound.
Mao-ling is the tomb mound of Han Wu-ti, located northeast of Hsing-p'ing County in Shensi; Li-yüeh is the site of Ch'in Shih-huang-ti's tomb, southeast of Lin-tung County in Shensi.


No. 274 *

When I think back twenty years,
With slow solemn steps I entered Kuo-ch'ing. 1.

The people in Kuo-ch'ing Temple
All said Han-shan is a fool!

A "stupid man"—what use in my harboring doubts?
Yet my doubts went unresolved, so I pondered the matter with care.

I still didn't really understand myself;
How is this something they could know?

I lowered my head—no use in asking them questions;
What's more, if I ask, what good would it do?

Some people came and cursed me,
Clear and distinct, what they knew. 2.

But although I did not reply,
Nonetheless, the advantage was mine!

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Literally, "returned" (kuei) to Kuo-ch'ing.That means this is where Han-shan entered the faith, committed himself to the Three Jewels.On the location of Kuo-ch'ing, see poem 40, note 1.
Equally plausible is Iritani and Matsumura's interpretation (see Kanzanshi, pp. 369-370): "Clearly and distinctly, I understood [all that they said]."


No. 275 *

I address you, the "leaving home" group;
What is it you call "leaving home"? 1.

Wasteful and extravagant, you seek to maintain your lives, 2.
To continue on without end, your family with its clan names. 3.

With your beautiful tongues and sweet lips,
You flatter and distort, hearts more and more twisted and bent.

All day long you worship at the altar; 4.
Holding sūtras in your hands, you establish your studies.

In your stoves you burn incense for gods and Buddhas,
And when the bell's struck, with a loud sound you chime in.

Throughout the six times 5., you study how to bump your head on the floor; 6.
Day and night you're unable to sleep.

All of this simply done, because you love money and wealth;
In your hearts, never untrammelled and free.

When you see others, men of the high Way,
These, nonetheless, you despise, slander, and curse.

Like donkey shit compared to the fragrance of musk,
Bitter indeed! Is the Buddha. 7.

I've also seen the "leaving home" crowd; 8.
Some have the strength, and some of them don't.

The very best, those of the highest integrity,
Spirits and gods respect their great virtue.

Rulers of kingdoms sit with them sharing their carriages;
Feudal princes, bowing, welcome them in. 9.

Worthy of being fields of blessings 10. for the whole world,
These, worldly people must protect and tenderly love.

With the lowest of the low—those abysmally stupid;
Deceitful they are in appearance—many the things that they seek.

That they are wasteful and corrupt—this then can be known;
Ignorant and stupid—they love women and wealth.

Though they wear their "blessings fields" clothes, 11.
They plant real fields to get clothing and food.

Creating debts, they rent oxen and plows;
In what they do, they're neither faithful nor just.

Day after day they do things loathsome and evil;
Time after time making ache their bottoms and spines. 12.

They don't understand how to carefully think things through;
They'll endure Hell's torments and pain without end.

If one day you contract a bothersome illness;
For three years you'll lay on your bed or your mat. 13.

They too have the real Buddha-nature;
Yet they turn it upside down, becoming ignorant thieves.

I devote myself to the Buddha; 14.
Far, far away—we pray to you Maitreya.

Pulleyblank, couplets 7, 8, and 9: Han-shan II.
"Leaving home" (ch'u-chia, pravraj), again (see poem 269, note 1), is the formal act of leaving home to be ordained as a monk or a nun.
Yang-huo means, specifically, taking care of, providing for one's family.
A tsu-hsing chia—i.e., the lineage of a particular ancestral line. Buddhists borrow Chinese clan terminology to keep track of branches and schools, speaking of "ancestors" (tsu), "generations" (shih) of disciples, and "descendants" (szu). In some cases, the religious surname of the master becomes the religious surname of his disciples.
Tao-ch'ang is a translation of bodhimandala, the seat on which the Buddha sat on the night of his enlightenment.However, it is also the place where one worships the Buddha, making offerings and performing rituals.
The "six times" (liu-shih) are the Buddhist divisions of the day— morning, noon, evening, beginning of night, middle of night, and the last part of the night.So this means all day long.
Translation is tentative. What is studied day and night is k'o-ch'ung. K'o means being a guest or traveller; ch'ung is the action done when hulling rice—i.e. beating it repeatedly to get out all the grain.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 372) conclude that this means repeatedly bowing in front of the Buddha, prostrate on the floor.Might it not also be read as "hulling rice like a guest"?
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 372) point out that the yeh in Fo-t'o-yeh is probably added for the rhyme; Buddha is normally just Fo-t'o.
Ch'u-chia erh, monastic companions, the host of disciples as op-posed to the master.
Ying-ni, which one would normally read as opposed actions—"to welcome" and "to oppose"—apparently combine to mean only "welcome."
Fu-t'ien—i.e., by respecting and honoring such people as these, people build up good karma.
i.e., the robes of monks and nuns.
Do their backs ache from carrying this heavy burden of evil? Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 375) say that t'ung t'un-chi ("making ache their bottoms and spines") refers to a form of punishment in which the buttocks and back are struck with a cane.
The point is—I think—that we will suffer a long time in Hell for what we do in this "one day" of life.
The phrase is Na-mo (namaḥ) Fo-t'o-yeh; namaḥ being the word— meaning to "submit to," "bow to," "to devote oneself to"—that is constantly used in liturgical incantation.

Comment: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 370-375) treat this as two poems, breaking between couplets 9 and 10 (i.e., "I've also seen the 'leaving home' crowd" begins poem 2). They note that this is only one poem in the Kunaichō and Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu editions ( Kanzanshi, p. 371) but choose to follow the Wu-shan pen. Hakuin ( Kanzan shi sendai kibun, 3: 35-37) also treats this as two poems.Moreover, there is a mark between couplets 9 and 10 in the SPTK text which indicates some sort of break.


No. 276 *

Cold cliffs—the deeper you enter, the better they seem;
Yet nobody walks on this road. 1.

White clouds calmly idle about lofty peaks;
Up on a green ridge, one lonely ape cries and howls.

Even greater than these 2., what is it that I hold dear?
To grow old, completely fulfilling my will, doing that which is fitting for me.

Appearance and form may change with the cold and the heat, 3.
But the pearl that's my mind—this can be firmly preserved.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"Nobody follows this Way."
Or possibly, "in addition to these" (keng).
i.e., the seasons or years—moving from summer to winter.


No. 277

In front of a cliff, all alone I silently sit;
The round moon brightly beams in the sky.

The ten thousand forms, as vague shadows appear in its midst, 1.
But that one wheel—fundamentally, there is nothing on which it shines. 2.

Free, empty, unbounded—my soul in itself it is pure.
Embracing the Void 3., I penetrate the mysterious and profound. 4.

By using a finger we see the moon;
The moon is the hinge of the mind.

The wan-hsiang, meaning all phenomenal forms. Given the identification of mind and moon that follows, the "vague shadows" are probably the marks we see on the moon.Alternatively, this might be a way of saying that all things external to the moon (= mind) have only this shadowy, un-substantial kind of existence.
The "one wheel" (i-lun) is the moon.
Hsü, śūnya, the empty state of all things—that they have no true reality.
Hsüan-miao always brings to mind the last lines of Chapter 1 in the Lao-tzu: hsüan chih yu-hsüan, chung-miao chih men. Chan ( The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 97) translates: "Deeper and more profound, the door of all subtleties!"

Comment: The symbolism in the poem is discussed in the Introduction.


No. 278

My original ambition was to admire fellow followers of the Way; 1.
With fellow followers of the Way, one can often get dose.

To run into, from time to time, guests who can stop up the source, 2.
To welcome in every day visitors with whom one can talk about Zen.

To discuss the abstruse on bright moonlit nights;
To search for the truth on morns as the sun starts to rise.

When the ten thousand shoots 3. are all wiped out without trace;
Then you'll know the original man. 4.

The same line occurs as line 8 in poem 228.
Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 205) explains "stop up the source" (tu-yüan) as "to stop up the source of life and death." "Ignorance" is normally the original fault that involves us in the wheel of saṁsāra.
Wan-chi, the "ten thousand shoots" or "ten thousand beginnings," is a phrase used to refer to the deeds the ruler controls.He handles all matters at their start. This would mean something like the roots of all phenomenal things, the "ten thousand dharmas."
Pen-Lai jen—i.e., the true Buddha inside.


No. 279

Those who, from the beginning, are not [true] retired scholars
Simply call themselves "men of the mountains and woods." 1.

Taking up service in Lu2., they cover their heads with their turbans of silk;
Still they "love" wrapping up in coarse linen kerchiefs. 3.

They say they have the restraint of Ch'ao Fu and Hsü Yu; 4.
They'd be ashamed to be ministers to Yao and Shun.

Monkeys putting on hats! 5.
Imitating others—in their flight from the dust and the wind. 6.

Shan-lin ("mountains and woods" or "a wooded hill") means "recluse" by association: it is in this kind of place that recluses live.
A way of saying they are true Confucians at heart, since Lu was the home state of Confucius.
Shu-chin, the kind recluses would wear.
According to the Chuang-tzu (Ch. 1, p. 2, line 22), Hsü Yu was offered the empire by Yao (traditional reign dates 2356-2255 B.C.), but he was so insulted by the offer that he went and washed out his ears.On Ch'ao Fu, who was also by tradition a recluse in Yao's time, see Huang Fu-mi's Kao-shih chuan (A: 2ab, SPPY ed.). His name (Nest Father) comes from the fact that he slept in a tree, and it was after Hsü Yu reported Yao's offer to Ch'ao Fu, according to the Kao-shih chuan—and as a result was criticized by Ch'ao Fu for not "hiding his form and concealing his light"—that he went off and washed out his ears.
Mi-hou, the Macacus monkey, to be exact.
i.e., the confusion and turmoil of life in the world.


No. 280 *

From of old, with the many wise men,
I've never seen one who had long-lasting life.

They live, then they go back to death,
Completely transformed into ashes and dust.

Piled up bones like Vipula Mountain; 1.
Parting tears that turn into a sea.

All they have is an empty name that remains; 2.
Can they avoid life and death's wheel?

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Vipula Mountain is a large mountain near Kuśāgārapura in Ma-gadha (see poem 232, note 1).
The "have an empty name" of this line seems to contrast with the "have long-lasting life" of line 2.


No. 281

Today I sat in front of a cliff;
I sat a long time, until the mist and clouds had cleared.

One dear mountain stream running cold;
For eight thousand feet, rise the tops of emerald-green peaks.

White clouds—in the morning their shadows so still;
The bright moon—at night its rays drift and flow.

When on my body there's no dust or filth,
In my heart—how, besides, could there be any woe?


No. 282 *

One thousand clouds blended with ten thousand streams;
In their midst, one gentleman at his ease.

In the bright light of day, he rambles in the green hills;
At night he returns, to sleep at the base of a cliff.

Swiftly pass the autumns and springs;
Silent and still, he has no polluting cumbersome ties. 1.

Happy indeed! On what does he rely?
Tranquil, at peace—like the water in a fall stream.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"Polluting, cumbersome ties" (ch'en-lei) in Buddhism is a metaphor for kleśa and karma, which soil us and tie us to the world.


No. 283

I urge you, put an end to your comings and goings;
Never vex him—old Yama. 1.

Lose your footing, and you'll fall into the three evil paths; 2.
Your bones will be ground into powder, having been pounded one thousand times!

For a long time you'll be a person in Hell;
Forever cut off from the ways of this life. 3.

I exhort you—believe in my words;
Recognize, hold on to, the treasure inside your robe. 4.

Yen-lao, the king of Hell.
The san-t'u, the three evil destinies: to suffer in hell, become a hungry ghost, or be reborn as an animal.
Or the "path" of this life (sheng-tao)—i.e., the gati, or destiny, to be a human being.
On the "treasure inside your robe" (i-chung pao), see poem 195, note 3.


No. 284 *

In this world there's one group of people;
Truly able to give the rest of us all a good laugh.

"Leaving home" 1., they exhaust their own bodies;
Deceiving lay masses—this they take as their "Way."

Though they wear their "free from dust robes," 2.
Inside those robes, they nourish a good crop of lice!

This can't compare to returning, 3.
To knowing and holding on to the mind that is king.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
For "leaving home," see poem 246, note 1.
Li-ch'en i is another name for the monk's robe, normally called the chia-sha (kāsāya).
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 383) note that kuei ch'ü-lai is a much-used phrase in Buddhism, where it means to return to and rely on the Truth.See poem 124, note 2, for additional comments on this phrase.


No. 285

High up! High up! On the very top of the peak;
Looking out in all four directions—to the limit no boundary [I see.]

I sit alone—there's no one who knows;
The single moon shines on a cold spring.

But in the spring, in truth, there's no moon;
The moon itself is in the blue sky.

And although I sing this one song,
What's in this song is not Zen. 1.

Following the variant of chung, "in" for chung, "end."

Note: The Zen message is that words—the teachings of a master, the words of a kōan—can reflect the truth, just as the spring reflects the moon, but they must not be taken as the real thing.The source of the reflection in the spring is the one moon itself in the sky; the source of all Zen words is the one Mind inside.That must be experienced, not simply understood.


No. 286

There's a Mr. Wang the hsiu-ts'ai,1.
Who laughs at my poems for containing so many errors.

He says I'm unfamiliar with the "wasp's waist,"
And again, I don't comprehend the "crane's knee." 2.

"Level and slanted" 3.—I don't understand where they should go;
Common words are selected and repeatedly used.

[But I reply,] "I laugh at the way you write poems;
Like some blind man singing about the sun!"

Hsiu-ts'ai, "Elegant Talent," was the first of three degrees (i.e., like the B.A.) in the imperial civil service examinations during the Ming and the Ch'ing and was the highest degree given in the Sui and early T'ang.The degree was abolished in the T'ang in 651 (see Denis Twitchett, The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3, [ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979], p. 275). Charles Hucker notes, however, that even after 651 the title remained an "unofficial reference to a Presented Scholar (chin-shih)." (See his remarks on "Cultivated Talent" in A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China, p. 248, item 2633).
The "wasp's waist" (feng-yao) and the "crane's knee" (ho-hsi) are two of eight errors that can be made in lü-shih (regulated verse) versification.The "wasp's waist" is the mistake of having the second and fifth character in a five-character line be the same tone; the "crane's knee" is the fault committed when the fifth and the fifteenth characters in a five-word poem are the same tone.
P'ing-ts'e (more commonly tse) "level and slanted" are the two basic tone categories used in "regulated verse" versification. "Level" tones correspond to modern tones one and two; the "slanted" tones are modern tones three and four, plus a fifth tone equal to the p, t, k endings in present-day Cantonese.

Note: As the reader might well expect, Han- shan in this poem— surely deliberately— commits the two faults of versification mentioned in lines 3 and 4. The tonal sequence in the poem, line by line, is: (1) TTPTP, (2) TTPPT, (3) PTTPP, (4) PTTTT, (5) PTTTT, (6) PPTTT, (7) TTTTP, and (8) PPPTT. Since tones 5 and 15 are the same, he ignores the "crane's knee," and he commits the fault of the "wasp's waist" in lines 2, 4, and 5. This fault is allowed, so long as the basic tonal sequence is proper, but the tonal sequence in this poem does not correspond at all to proper patterns, and the rhyme words are all "slanted"; in proper "regulated verse" poems, all rhyme words must be "level."


No. 287

I live in some country village;
I have no father, no mother as well.

I have no name, also no surname-rank; 1.
People just call me old "Chang" or "Wang."

There is absolutely 2. no one to teach me;
Poverty and low station—this is my constant lot.

What I tenderly love is the truth in my mind,
Solid and firm like a diamond.

Hsing-ti is a number denoting one's place among the sons in the family—e.g., "Chang the second" would be the second-born son in the Chang family.
Or, "Moreover, there is no one to teach me" (ping-wu).


No. 288

Han-shan sends out these words,
But these words nobody believes.

Honey is sweet—pleasing to people's taste;
Yellow oak 1. is bitter and hard to get down.

When things accord with our feelings, they produce joy and delight;
When they counter our wills—many the feelings of anger and hate.

But just look at that puppet of wood—
Exhausted! From performing this one act on stage. 2.

For "Yellow Oak" (huang-po, Phellodendron amurense), see G. A. Stuart , Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, pp. 316-317. Stuart says the inner, yellow bark is used in medicine, and "the taste is very bitter." He also notes that the root is "said to relieve the hundred diseases of the heart and abdomen, to quiet the soul, to relieve hunger and thirst, and if taken for a long time, to prolong life and permeate the spirit." One assumes it is mere coincidence that one of the T'ang Zen masters was Huang Po: that is, Hsi Yün, who lived on Huang Po mountain in Fukien and took this as his name.His sayings are translated into English by John Blofeld.
Han-shan might have in mind—and might here allude to—a four‐ line poem by Liang Huang (fl. 742-756—the poem is attributed by some to Ming-huang, r. 713-756) which goes like this: "Carve the wood, attach some pull strings to make an old man; use chicken [flesh?] for the skin, crane [feathers] for hair, it will look just like the real thing.But in just a short while, its performance is done; then it will be still with nothing to do; It's just like human life in a dream" (for the text, see CTS, Vol. 3, p. 2116.) Iritani and Matsumura, Kanzanshi, p. 388, note this possibility.


No. 289 *

I've seen people reciting the scriptures;
Their understanding relies on the words and comments of others.

Their mouths may move, but their hearts do not turn; 1.
Hearts and mouths diametrically opposed.

When the heart is sincere, it does not twist and bend;
It doesn't produce the various covers and bonds. 2.

You must simply in person examine yourself;
Never look for others to take your place!

In this way you can, inside, produce and attain the true lord;
This is knowledge that has no inside or out.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
The phrase that means to read or recite the scriptures is chuan‐ ching, literally, "turn over the sutras"; in reciting the scriptures one's mouth "rotates" with the page.However, chuan-hsin, "to turn the mind," is a set phrase meaning "genuine conversion."
Ch'an-kai ("covers and bonds") is another name for the passions; they entangle the mind and keep it from seeing the truth.


No. 290

On Han-shan there are only white clouds;
Quiet and still, cut off from the dirt and the dust.

Seats made of straw—mountain families have these; 1.
Their sole lamp, the bright wheel of the moon.

My stone bed overlooks an emerald-green pool;
Tigers and deer—always my neighbors nearby. 2.

I truly covet the joys of this remote life;
Forever to be a man who lives "beyond form." 3.

Reading shan-chia in its general sense. In Buddhism shan-chia, "the Mountain School," is also the name of one branch of T'ien-t'ai, the "authentic branch" developed by Ssu-ming; this stands in contrast to the "sect [developed] away from the mountains" (shan-wai tsung) headed by Wu En (d. A.D. 986).
The line may be symbolic, though it makes good sense as it is. For deer as symbols of compassion and freedom, see poem 152 and poem 291. Tigers seem to represent inner passions in poem 144.
The locus classicus for the phrase "beyond form" (hsiang-wai)— i.e., one who lives outside the phenomenal/ordinary world—seems to be Sun Ch'o's " Rhapsody on Wandering on Mount T'ien-t'ai." Watson ( Chinese Rhyme-Prose, p. 85) translates the relevant lines; "Spreading doctrines of what is 'beyond symbol,' expounding texts on what is 'without origination.' "


No. 291

Deer live in the deep woods,
Where they drink water and eat grass.

They stretch out their legs to sleep at the foot of some tree;
How adorable! No distress and no pain. 1.

But tie them up in some splendid hall,
Feed them delicacies and rich foods—the very fattest and best—

And all day long they'll be unwilling to eat;
In appearance and form they'll turn thin and pale. 2.

Literally, they have no kleśa.
One is reminded of Hsi K'ang's ( A.D. 223-262) " Letter to Shan T'ao," in which Hsi K'ang breaks off relations with Shan T'ao for recommending him for office. Hsi K'ang, noting how he had grown up free from control and restraint and how he would therefore hate the caged in life of the official, says: "In this I am like the wild deer, which captured young and reared in captivity will be docile and obedient.But if it be caught when full-grown, it will stare wildly and butt against its bonds, dashing into boiling water or fire to escape. You may dress it up with a golden bridle and feed it delicacies, and it will but long the more for its native woods and yearn for rich pasture" (translation by J. R. Hightower in Cyril Birch, ed., Anthology of Chinese Literature [ New York: Grove Press, 1965], p. 163).


No. 292

Atop the flowers, a golden oriole;
"Kuan-kuan," its sound, oh so sweet! 1.

A beautiful woman, complexion like jade,
Facing this way, strums her lute and makes the strings sing.

In this way amused, she can't get her fill;
Tender thoughts in her young age. 2.

But when blossoms fall, the bird too will leave;
Shedding tears, she'll face the fall wind.

Kuan-kuan, the "harmonious sounds made by birds," are the opening words of poem 1 in the Shih ching (see Karlgren, The Book of Odes, p. 2). That poem describes a beautiful young maiden about to be wed, and there too the playing of lutes is mentioned.
Literally, in her years of shedding milk teeth (t'iao-nien).

Note: The oriole in the poem seems to assume the role of the girl's loved one: the oriole loves the blossoms of spring, just as young men are attracted by the girl's youthful good looks.But when her youth is gone (when the blossoms fall), the oriole (her lover) will leave, and she'll be alone to face the fall wind (the remaining years of her life.) The allusion to poem 1 in the Shih seems to support this interpretation.


No. 293 *

I sojourn here beneath this cold cliff,
With my bias exclaim this spot most secluded and rare!

Taking my basket, I pick mountain roots;
Raising my tray, pluck some fruit and return.

With vegetarian fare spread on thatch I sit down,
Sipping and pecking, purple fungus I eat. 1.

In a clean mountain pool rinse my ladle and bowl;
Mixing and blending, boil sunflowers and mallows. 2.

Facing the sun, I sit wrapped up in furs,
Leisurely reading poems by men from the past.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
On "purple fungus" see poem 19, note 3.
The text has ch'ou-hsi, "much and little," and Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han‐ shan shih-chieh, p. 161) accordingly reads, "Whatever I have [much or little,] I boil." However, Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 394) cite the notes to the shou-shu edition of the text, which gloss ch'ou-hsi as chou-hsi: chou is the sunflower, while hsi is identified as Eranthis pirnatifida; white mallow.


No. 294 *

To places I travelled in former days
Today I returned after seventy years.

Of old friends, there are none who still come and go;
All buried deep in their old, high graves.

As for me, my hair's now already white,
But still I stick by this mountain with its layer of clouds.

I makes this report to those who will come later on;
Why don't you read the words of the ancients?

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.


No. 295

I've been wanting to go to that eastern cliff,
To the present—for innumerable years.

So yesterday I came and climbed up through the vines,
But halfway there, I was hampered by mist and wind.

The path was narrow—with my clothes it was hard to advance;
The moss was sticky—my shoes could not go on. 1.

So I stay at the base of this red cinnamon tree, 2.
Where with white clouds for my pillow, I sleep.

Reading the variant of ch'ien, "to go on," for ch'üan, though ch'üan might make sense as "to keep"—i.e., "I couldn't keep my shoes on."
Tan-kuei, "red (or vermilion) cinnamon" is defined as a cinnamon (or cassia) tree with red bark.

Note: A number of things signal that the poem should be read as allegory of spiritual quest. In addition to traditional associations of cinnamon trees with recluses and seekers of long life, there is the fact that Han-shan finds the path "narrow" and cannot advance, held back by his "clothes" and his "shoes" (which might symbolize a number of things). Moreover, "mist and wind" (feng-yen) make it difficult to see one's way clearly, and the word "vine" (or "creeper"—ko) means by extension, "complications," "difficulties," "entanglements." Finally, Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 21) argue—and present evidence for the claim—that in Chinese "field and garden" poetry, the place where one retires is often "eastern X." Thus they understand "eastern cliff" to mean the same as Han-shan—it stands for Han-shan's goal or ideal, enlightenment.


No. 296 *

I've seen these men with keen wisdom;
Once they inspect, then they know what it means.

But avail yourself not 1. of this search through written words,
And you'll directly enter the Tathāgata stage. 2.

Let the heart not pursue all the causes 3.
And the mind-sense 4. not falsely arise.

When the heart and mind-sense are not born—
Inside and out—there will be no remaining affairs.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Chia, "make use of" or "borrow," but also to "pretend" or do something "falsely."
Ju-lai ti, the Tathāgata stage or condition.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 396) locate the expression "directly enter the Tathāgata stage" in Yung Chia's "Cheng-tao ko" (T. 2014, Vol. 48, p. 396 top.) For a translation, see Charles Luk, Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Vol. 3 ( London: Rider and Co., 1961), pp. 103-145, especially p. 127.
Chu-yüan, the "secondary" or "accessory" conditions. Yuan (pratyaya) are the secondary or circumstantial conditions, as opposed to the direct or primary causes, of all things and events in the phenomenal world.
The i-ken, "mind-sense," is the sense organ (indriya) which serves as the basis for the sixth consciousness (mano-vijn̅āna), the consciousness that coordinates data from the other five senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body).


No. 297 *

On my body I wear "sky-flower" clothes; 1.
With my feet I tread in "tortoise-hair" shoes. 2.

In my hand I hold my "rabbit-horns" bow,
Planning to shoot down the demon of ignorance.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"Sky-flowers" (k'ung-hua) are things that do not exist; they are the flowers—or spots—one sees in the air if one's vision is blurred.See also poem 230.
The "hair on a tortoise" (kuei-mao) and "horns on a hare" (t'u‐ chiao) are stock metaphors for things that are unreal—they do not exist. See, for example, the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, Ch. 35 (T. 374; Vol. 12, p. 570 top).


No. 298

Take a look, sir, at the blooms 'mid the leaves;
For how long can they enjoy the good life?

Today they fear being plucked by men;
Tomorrow morn—just waiting for someone to sweep them away.

Pitiable indeed! Our love of beauty and charm;
When years are many, we change, become old.

If we take one's lifespan and compare it to that of those blooms;
That rosy complexion—can it be maintained for long?


No. 299

Painted rafters 1.—that's not my house;
The green forest 2.—this is my home.

One's whole life—in a moment suddenly gone;
Concerned with ten thousand affairs, we never speak of what's far away. 3.

If, for crossing the stream, you don't build a raft,
You'll drift and then sink, as you try to gather the blooms. 4.

If good roots you now do not plant,
When will you see the sprouting of shoots?

A stock phrase for the elaborate, ornate houses of the rich is painted rafters and carved beams" (hua-tung tiao-liang). The SPTK text has kuei-tung, "cassia rafters."
Reading the variant of ch'ing-lin instead of sung-lin, "pine forest," which obviously would also make sense.But "green forest" tends to mean the place where a recluse would dwell.
i.e., far away in time, the future; we never plan for our fate after death.
The couplet contains two allusions to lines in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra.In Chapter 20 of that text (T. 375, Vol. 12, p. 741 middle) are the lines, "If you want to cross water, [you need] a boat or raft to protect you well." And in Chapter 29 we find the lines, "One who firmly craves fine lotus flowers, when he goes to pick them, he is tossed about by the water.All sentient beings are also like this. When they crave and long for the five desires, they are tossed about and sunk by the waters of life and death" (T. 374, Ch. 29, Vol. 12, p. 536 bottom).


No. 300

Born thirty years ago;
I've been constantly roaming about—one thousand, ten thousand li.

I've walked by rivers where the green grasses merged,
Entered the borders where red dust kicked up.

Refining drugs, in vain I sought to become an immortal;
I read books and wrote poems on historical themes.

But today I've come home to Han-shan1.
To pillow my head on the stream and wash out my ears. 2.

Not in the sense that he has lived there before, but in the sense that this is where he truly belongs—kuei.
The allusion is to some remarks made by Sun Ch'u ( A.D. ?-282) to Wang Chi, when Sun Ch'u wanted to go off and become a recluse.The anecdote—recorded in Shih-shuo hsin-yü, 25: 6 ( Yang Yung, Shih-shuo hsin-yü chiao-chien, p. 588)—goes as follows: "When Sun Ch'u was young, he wanted to become a recluse.Speaking of it once to Wang Chi, he intended to say, 'I'll pillow my head on the rocks and rinse my mouth in the streams.' Instead, he said by mistake, 'I'll rinse my mouth with rocks and pillow my head on the streams.' Wang asked, 'Are streams something you can pillow on and rocks something you can rinse with?' Sun replied, 'My reason for pillowing on streams is to "wash my ears," and my reason for rinsing with rocks is to "sharpen my teeth." ' " (translated by Richard Mather , A New Account of Tales of the World, p. 402). The recluse Hsü Yu earlier is reported to have gone and washed out his ears when the Sageruler Yao offered to give him the kingdom to rule (see poem 279, note 4).


No. 301

Han-shan is a "no-outflows" cliff; 1.
Its cliffs—most essential for crossing the stream. 2.

The eight winds 3. do not move it when they blow;
From distant years in the past, men have spread word of its marvelous traits.

Quiet and still, a good place to peacefully live;
Empty—utterly empty, separated from ridicule and blame.

The lonely moon, throughout the long night always bright;
The round sun, constantly it comes out and shines.

Tiger Mound4.combined with Tiger Brook; 5.
No need to call back and forth.

In the world there may be tutors to kings,
But never treat them as equal to Chou and Shao. 6.

Ever since I escaped to these cold cliffs,
Happy I've been, forever I sing and I smile.

Lou (āsrava), "outflows," is another name for kleśa: the "outflows" are the ignorance and passions that flow out of the unenlightened mind.To "have no outflows" (wu-lou, anāsrava) is one of the marks of nirvāna: it also means to be outside the downward flow that leads to low forms of rebirth.
Essential for reaching salvation—the phrase is chi-yao.
The "eight winds" (pa-feng) which stir up the passions are ( Soothill and Hodous, p. 41): "gain, loss, defamation, eulogy, praise, ridi-cule, sorrow, and joy."
" Tiger Mound" (hu-ch'iu) is one of the beauty spots of Kiangsu; it is a mountain in Soochow. A "Tiger Mound Temple" was established there in A.D. 368, and a number of famous monks preached there in later years, including Chu Tao-i, Chu Tao-sheng, Dharmati, and Hui-yen.The name "Tiger Mound" was briefly changed to "Military Mound" (wu-ch'iu) during the reign of T'ang T'ai-tsu (r. 618-627) to avoid the taboo on his name.
" Tiger Brook" (hu-hsi) is a stream on Mount Lu (in Kiangsi, south of Chiu-chiang County), best known as the place where the Buddhist Hui‐ yuan ( 334-416) saw off his guests (see his biography in Kao-seng chuan, ch'u‐ chi, 6: 149). Tradition records that Hui-yüan never crossed this stream; if he did, a tiger would growl.
" Chou and Shao" must mean the two great leaders at the beginning of the Chou dynasty (c. 1100 B.C.), the duke of Chou and the duke of Shao.They too were "tutors to kings" (wang-fu) in a sense, since they served as regents to young king Ch'eng.I take Han-shan's point to be that one should not confuse the common with the superb; no "common" tutor could compare to the tutors Chou and Shao (and in a similar way, no common mountain could compare with Han-shan). But commentators do not agree on the intent of these lines.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 402-403) feel the "king's tutor" specifically refers to Chia I ( 201-169 B.C.), who had been tutor to the king of Ch'ang-sha.By contrast, Ch'en Hui‐ chien ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 216) feels that "wang" means the immortal Wang-tzu Ch'iao (on which see poem 6, note 2), and "fu" refers to Fu Hsi (on which see poem 172, note 6). Wang and Fu, the recluses, thus contrast with the politicians Chou and Shao.


No. 302

Buddhist monks don't keep their rules; 1.
Taoist adepts don't eat their drugs.

From of old a good many worthies
Lie at the foot of green hills. 2.

Do not maintain śīla (pu ch'ih chieh), the rules of monastic discipline.
I.e., in their graves.

Comment: The Ch'üan T'ang shih (p. 9101) notes that in one text these four lines come at the end of 301—i.e., that poems 301 and 302 are combined. Pulleyblank (" Linguistic Evidence," p. 166n) notes this as true for the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu edition; nonetheless, the rhymes he lists for poems 301 and 302 do not agree (?jiew, mjiew, ts'iew, tsjiew, dzjiew, dzjiew, and siew for 301; jiak and kiak for 302—" Linguistic Evidence," p. 191). Supporting the thesis that the two are separate poems are the facts that the flow of thought between the two is not continuous, and in the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu text (see p. 61), the opening words of poem 302 start at the head of a column.


No. 303

Some people laugh at my poems;
But my poems stand side by side with the elegant and refined. 1.

Still I've not troubled Mr. Cheng to add notes,
And what use having Master Mao explain? 2.

I don't regret that those who understand them are few;
It's just that those who know inner thoughts are quite rare. 3.

If you chase and pursue C and D, 4.
With my faults, you'll never come to the end!

But should my poems suddenly meet up with someonewith a sharp eye,
Then they'll naturally circulate throughout the world.

I.e., they match the "classics" in style and importance, "elegant and refined" (tien-ya), alluding in a way to the Shu ( Book of Documents), which opens with the "Canon of Yao" (Yao-tien) and the Shih ( Book of Songs), where two important sections are the "Greater Elegant" (Ta-ya) and the "Lesser Elegant" (Hsiao-ya).
The two earliest commentaries on the Shih are the Mao-shih shih‐ chuan in 29 chüan, by either Mao Heng or Mao Chang (c. 130 B.C.), and Cheng Hsüan's ( A.D. 127-200) chien (Supplementary Commentary). Both are contained in the Mao-shih cheng-i (see, for example, the Shih-san-ching chu-shu). I think Han-shan's point is that his poems are as good as those in the Shih, but they are simple and straightforward in meaning and hence need no commentary.
"Those who know inner thoughts" are literally, those who "know tunes" (chih-yin). Someone who "knows your tune" is someone who knows you very well and can tell from something you do what you really feel.The expression originates in the story of Yü Po-ya and Chung Tzu-ch'i.If Yü Po-ya was thinking of a mountain when he played his lute, Chung Tzu-ch'i knew it, and if he had his mind on a river, Chung Tzu-ch'i knew that as well.The anecdote is recorded in various sources. See, for example, Lieh-tzu, "T'ang-wen" (in SPPY ed., 5. 16ab). A. C. Graham translates the relevant passage in The Book of Lieh-tzu ( London: John Murray, 1960), pp. 109-110.
C and D (kung-shang) are the first two musical tones in the Chinese pentatonic scale.Here they seem to stand for the tone categories used in regulated verse (see poem 286, notes 2 and 3), p'ing (level) and tse (deflected). There were also five tones in T'ang Chinese pronunciation.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 404) translate kung and shang as p'ing-tse.


No. 304 §

The way to Han-shan;
Nobody arrives.

Can you walk on this road?
You'll be called the Ten Names. 1.

Here there's the chirp of cicadas,
But there's no caw of the crow. 2.

The yellow leaves fall;
The white snow I sweep.

Boulders in piles and heaps;
Mountains hidden and deep.

I live here alone;
My name—the "Good Guide." 3.

You, sir, carefully look;
What are my marks and signs? 4.

I.e., you will be a Buddha.The "Ten Names" or "Ten Titles" (shih‐ hao) of a Buddha are ( Soothill and Hodous, p. 52): Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-saṁbuddha, Vidyācarana-saṁpanna, Sugata, Lokavid, Anuttara, Puruṣa-damya-sārathi, Śāsta-deva-manuṣyāṇām, and Buddha-lokanātha (or Bhagavān).
The "chirp of cicadas" is associated with ill-treated men of high virtue in a number of poems.See, for example, Lo Pin-wang's (fl. 680) famous "On the Cicada While in Prison" (Tsai-yü yung-ch'an), anthologized in the Three Hundred Poems of T'ang: for a translation, see Stephen Owen, The Poetry of Early T'ang ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), pp. 148‐ 149. Also see Li Shang-yin's (812-858) poem " Cicada," in Ch'üan T'ang shih, Vol. 8, p. 6147. Crows are not only common and vulgar, they are sometimes associated with bad luck: see, for example, Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Avian Drugs, p. 70, item 302. Read makes the interesting observation that "northerners like crows and dislike magpies; the reverse is true in the south."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 408) and Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 180) point out that "Good Guide" (shan-tao) is a name for the Buddha.It is also the name of Shan Tao (613-681), one of the patriarchs of the Pure Land school in China.Iritani and Matsumura see this as possibly pointing to some connection between the poetry of Han-shan and the Pure Land school.
"Marks and signs," (hsiang-hao, lakṣaṇa-vyañjana) are special bodily features of a Buddha.There are 32 special marks and 80 secondary signs.

Three-character lines.


No. 305 §

Han-shan is cold;
Ice locks in the rocks.

Concealed—mountain's green;
Revealed—the whiteness of snow.

The sun comes out and shines;
In a moment everything melts.

From this time it is warm;
Nourishing this old guest.

Three-character lines.

Comment: A poem where the connection between weather and spiritual progress seems rather clear. It is the sun of enlightenment that melts the ice and snow of ignorance that hide the green, rich life below.


No. 306 *§

I live on this mountain;
Nobody knows.

Up in the white clouds;
Constantly quiet and still.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.

Three-character lines.


No. 307 §

Han-shan is deep;
It matches my mind.

Purely white rocks;
No yellow gold. 1.

Sounds in the spring echo,
As I strum Po-ya's lute.

Were Tzu-ch'i here,
He'd distinguish this tune. 2.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 410) cite a number of lines from biographies of immortals where "white rocks" (pai-shih) figure among the things that they eat. "White rocks" is also another name for Yang-ch'i‐ shih (Actinolite), on which see Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Minerals/Stones, p. 46 (item 75). Iritani and Matsumura also feel that Han-shan is criticizing the alchemical practice of refining gold.
For Yü Po-ya and Chung Tzu-ch'i, see poem 303, note 3.

Three-character lines.


No. 308 §

In the midst of layers of cliffs;
Content with the cool breeze.

His fan does not move;
The cold air comes through on its own.

The bright moon shines;
White clouds all around.

Sitting alone by himself,
One venerable old man.

Three-character lines.


No. 309 *§

Master Han-shan
Is always "like this." 1.

Alone, by himself he dwells;
He does not live or die.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Always "like this" (ju-shih, evam) or "just so." "Like this" are the words that commonly open each sutra—"Like this have I heard." Han-shan might be using ju-shih as elsewhere he uses chen-ju—bhūtatathatā—the absolute reality, that which is "really so."

Three-character lines.


No. 310 *1.

I've seen the men of this world;
Each one contends in a spirited way.

Then one morning they suddenly die;
All they've attained is one strip of land.

Four feet wide,
Twenty feet long. 2.

If you know how to get out of your grave
And come argue with me in this spirited way,

For you, I will
Inscribe a gravestone. 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
In mixed meter lines. Lines 1-4 are in five-character verse; lines 5-6 and 9-10 are in three-character verse; lines 7-8 are in four-character verse (but see note 3). This poem and the next are noted as additions to the collection in CTS and SPTK editions.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 413) note that in the original ( Yüan dynasty) SPTK, these poems were attributed to Shih-te.
Presumably meaning their graves.
The poem can be punctuated in a variety of ways. I follow Iritani and Matsumura.The CTS text makes one line of lines 7 and 8, and one line of lines 9 and 10. That presents no problem with rhyme, but it does make line 7 an eight-character line and line 8 a seven-character line. Tseng P'uhsin's punctuation ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 183) is the same as that of Iritani and Matsumura, with the exception that he splits lines 7 and 8 differently, making line 7 a three-character line and line 8 a four-character line ("If you understand; and come out and argue [with me in this] spirited way"). The poem actually reads best when lines 5 and 6 are added to line 4 and lines 9 and 10 are combined, as they are in the CTS text.


No. 311

If your house has the poems of Han-shan in it,
They're better for you than reading sūtras!

Write them down on your screen,
And from time to time take a look.


PART 1 Poems No. 1— No. 100

PART 2 Poems No. 101— No. 200