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禪林句集 Zenrin-kushū
Zen Phrase Books

(English:) Phrases from the Zen Forest, Collection of Sayings from the Zen Forest, Zen Sangha Phrase Collection
attributed to 東陽英朝 Tōyō Eichō (1428-1504)



Zenrin kusú [Öt vers]
Faludy György fordítása

Zenrin kusú [Hét vers]
Terebess Gábor fordítása

PDF: A Zen Forest: Sayings of the Masters (1981)
Translated by Sōiku Shigematsu
Foreword by Gary Snyder

The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice

Translated by Victor Sōgen Hori

Translated by R. H. Blyth

Selections from A Zen Phrase Anthology
Translated by Ruth Fuller Sasaki

久須本文雄 Kusumoto Bun'yū (1907-1995)
禅語入門 Zengo nyūmon
Tokyo: 大法輪閣 Daihōrin-kaku Co. Ltd., 1982
PDF: An Introduction to Zen Words and Phrases
Translated by Michael D. Ruymar (Michael Sōru Ruymar)

Zenrin Kushû
“A Collection of Phrases from the Zen
Garden,” a compilation of 6,000 quotations
drawn from various Buddhist
scriptures, Zen texts, and non-Buddhist
sources. At least since the time of the
eighteenth-century Rinzai reformer,
Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768), Rinzai
masters and students have relied upon
the Zenrin Kushû as a resource for
jakugo, or capping verses, which
are used as a regular part of kôan
practice. Portions of the text have been
translated into English in Sasaki and
Miura’s The Zen Kôan and Shigematsu’s
A Zen Forest.
The Zenrin Kushû is based upon an
earlier anthology of 5,000 Zen phrases
known as the Ku Zôshi, compiled by
Tôyô Eichô (1438–1504). Tôyô drew his
material from sutras, recorded sayings
of Chinese Zen masters, Taoist texts,
Confucian texts, and Chinese poetry. He
arranged the phrases according to
length, beginning with single-character
expressions, continuing with phrases of
two characters through eight characters,
and interspersing parallel verses of
five through eight characters. Tôyô’s
work circulated in manuscript form for
several generations until the seventeenth
century. At that time, a person
using the pen name Ijûshi produced an
expanded version of the text that was
first published in 1688 under the title
Zenrin Kushû.

English versions:

Ruth Fuller Sasaki: Zen Dust (210 phrases)
Shigematsu Sōiku: A Zen Forest (1,234 verses)
Robert E. Lewis: The Book of the Zen Grove (631 verses)
Victor Sōgen Hori: Zen Sand (4,022 phrases)


PDF: A Zen Forest: Sayings of the Masters (1981)
Translated, with an introduction, by Sōiku Shigematsu


The Book of the Zen Grove Phrases for Zen Practice
by Zenrin R. Lewis, 1996, 144 p.
This book is an English translation of Shibayama Zenkei Roshi's Zenrin Kushu. It contains the original Chinese phrases together with English, and Japanese translations.

Zenrin R. Lewis (Hg.): Der Zen-Wald. Koan-Antworten aus dem Zenrin kushu. Chinesisch-Deutsch. Übertragen von Guido Keller. Angkor Verlag, 2012, 172 S.


PDF: ZEN SAND: The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice
Translated by Victor Sōgen Hori
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press; Bilingual edition, 2010, 764 pages

PDF: pp. 3-98

Introduction: Capping-Phrase Practice in Japanese Rinzai Zen, pp. 3-4

1. The Nature of the Rinzai Kōan Practice, pp. 5-15

2. The Steps of Kōan Practice, pp. 16-29

3. Literary Study in Kōan Practice, pp. 30-40

4. The Kōan and the Chinese Literary Game, pp. 41-62

5. The History of Zen Phrase Books, pp. 62-90

6. Guide to Conventions and Abbreviations, pp. 91-98



A complete and searchable list of all the Chinese verses in Zen Sand

Translating the Zen Phrase Book by G. Victor Sōgen Hori
Nanzan Bulletin, 23/1999, pp. 44-58.

PDF: Zen Koan Capping Phrase Books: Literary Study and the Insight “Not Founded on Words or Letters”
by Victor Sōgen Hori
Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism (2006), pp. 171-214.

Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practive
Reviewed by Jiang Wu

Victor Sogen Hori: Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice
University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 2003, p. 764
review by Vladimir K., October, 2003

The study of koans in Western Zen has omitted one essential element common in Japanese Rinzai practice—the ‘capping phrase' or jakugo (‘to append a phrase'). When a Japanese monk has had an insight into a koan, the master will ask for a jakugo , a phrase or verse that expresses the insight the monk has had. To find this phrase, the monk will consult one or a number of phrase books (kushu) searching for an adequate line or phrase to present to the master. In the advanced stages of koan study, the monk will also present written explanations (kakiwake) and Chinese-style poetry (nenro). According to Hori, “Such literary study is not merely an incidental part of koan study” (p.4) but an essential training for Rinzai monks. But if Zen practice is the attainment of nonrational, direct pointing at the mind, ‘not founded on words and letters', what role does jakugo play and where did this literary tradition in Zen come from? The lengthy introduction to Zen Sand provides an insight into these questions.

This is a remarkable book of immense importance to the ongoing project of the transmission of Zen to the West. Hori has compiled and translated two capping-phrase books, Shibayama Zenkei's (1894-1974) Zenrin kushu and Tsuchiya Etsudo's (1899-1978) Shinsan zengoshu , resulting in the largest modern collection of capping phrases in any language, 4,022 phrases, and is second in size only to Ijushi's Zenrin kushu , published in 1688, which has 4,380 phrases. Furthermore, Hori has included for each verse the Chinese characters, a Japanese kanji reading, an English translation, an annotation of sources (where available), a reference to the original phrase book and an indication if a particular word shows up in the glossary. Chinese names are given in the Wade-Giles romanization. The whole volume is fully indexed and has an invaluable glossary of nearly 100 pages which helps explain some of the metaphors and allusions used in the phrases. It has, as well, a full bibliography and a most valuable 87-page introduction which carefully explains and discusses the literary tradition of Zen practice. The full introduction is available for downloading in Acrobat.pdf format. (Hori has also written about his experiences in translating the Zen Sand. This was published before Zen Sand and you can read it here.)

In his introduction, Hori points out that Rinzai koan practice is “like all Buddhist practices”, (p.5) a religious practice. While religious experience may be indescribable (and Zen does have a history of discouraging discussion of Zen experience), this does not necessarily mean that the experience is devoid of any intellectual activity, just that any language about the experience can be meaningful only to those who have shared the experience. Without such an experience, Zen language appears nonsensical and illogical, especially in koans. What's missing is a reference point. If we are not privy to the reference made in the language, then it would appear to have no meaning. For example, how could you describe the taste of chocolate to one who has never tasted it? The best one could do is to use analogy, metaphor and description but the listener would still not know how chocolate really tasted until it was placed in the mouth; likewise with the Zen experience.

The use of jakugo in Zen practice goes back at least to the Sung Dynasty (AD 960 - 1270). The Hekigan-roku has examples of jakugo in Engo's capping phrases to Setcho's verse on the main case. Likewise, Mumon's four line verses in the Mumonkan are jakugo . Originally, jakugo were written by the monks themselves but gradually they were collected in books for reference and verses from Chinese poetry, Buddhist sutras, Confusion classics, historical writings and Taoist works were included. The result is a collection that plunders classical Chinese history, philosophy, poetry and literature as well as Buddhist texts.

What has never been adequately explained is where the koans came from in the first place. Hori advances a unique theory of the origin of koans and jakugo as having a background in classical Chinese “literary games” but in the service of Zen insight. These Chinese literary games pre-date the arrival of Ch'an/Zen in China and were an intellectual competition between players using highly allusive language to say something without actually saying it and thereby tripping up the opposition. Hidden meanings, inside jokes, obscure references and just plain cleverness were all part of the game. For Hori, the use of jakugo in Japanese Rinzai is a return to the origins of koans. Hori's theory goes some way to explaining the humour, the acid tongue, the wit and the highly allusive language found in koan collections. One-the-spot improvisations, a feature of these games, is also highly valued in Zen dialogues, as is “turning the other's spear against him” where one player (or Zen monk) recognizes the other's strategy and turns it around to defeat the other (sometimes called "Dharma combat" in Zen).

Following from this view of Zen koans and the tradition behind them, Hori claims that “the notion of a mind-to-mind transmission outside of language did not originate with Zen [but]…Zen adopted it from Chinese literary culture.” (p. 56) The author sees the concept of wu wei (non-action) as originating not in Zen but in a classical Chinese culture that pre-dates Ch'an/Zen. As he says, “the entire educated world of China saw the epitome of learned discourse as one in which the partners were so learned that they communicated more through silence than through words.” (p. 57) The significance of this for Zen practice is understanding that Zen does not mean abandoning words and language, but on mastering them to the extent that one can communicate “mind-to-mind”.

But it would be wrong to think that Hori sees Zen koan practice as nothing more than some literary game. He is careful to reiterate that insight into a koan is fundamentally a religious matter. “The koan is both the means for and the realization of, a religious experience that finally consumes the self.” (p. 52) Victor Sogen Hori's own background reaffirms this understanding. He received a doctoral degree in philosophy from Stanford University in 1976, the same year he was ordained as a Zen monk. He subsequently spent thirteen years studying Rinzai in Japan, returning to academic life in 1990. He is currently professor of Japanese religions in the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University.

This beautiful volume is recommended unreservedly. It is a major contribution to Western zen for academics and practitioners alike. The glossary is most helpful and I found Hori's discussion of the origins of koans and jakugo fascinating and providing new insights into an ancient practice. The academic standard is of the highest order. Thoroughly researched and referenced, it will undoubtedly become a classic in the English-speaking Zen world.




Anthology "Zenrinkushu" was compiled by Eicho (1429-1504), a
disciple of Secco of Myoshinji. The items (4000 in all) are
collected from about two hundred books, including various Zen
writings: "The Analects", "The Great Learning", "The Doctrine of
the Mean", "Mencius", "The Odes", "Laotse", "Chuangtse", "The
Hekiganroku", "Mumonkan", "Shinjinmei", the poetry of Kanzan,
Toenmei, Toho, Ritaihaku, Hakurakuten. The first 73 of the
following are taken from the book:
R.H.Blyth, "Haiku", vol.1,
pp. 25-33.

The raindrops patter on the bamboo leaf, but these are not tears of grief;
This is only the anguish of him who is listening to them.

The voice of the mountain torrent is from one great tongue;
The lines of the hills, are they not the Pure Body of Buddha?

It is like a sword that wounds, but cannot wound itself;
Like an eye that sees, but cannot see itself.

Words do not make a man understand;
You must get the man, to understand them.

To be able to trample upon the Great Void,
The iron cow must sweet.

It is like a tiger, but with many horns;
Like a cow, but it has no tail.

Meeting, the two friends laugh and laugh;
In the grove, fallen leaves are many.

The cock announces the dawn in the evening;
The sun is bright at midnight.

The voice of the fountain after midnight;
The colours of the hills at sunsetting.

The cries of the monkeys echo through the dense forest;
In the clear water, the wild geese are mirrored deep.

The wooden cock crows at midnight;
The straw dog barks at the clear day.

Mountains and rivers, the whole earth, --
All manifest forth the essence of being.

The wind drops but the flowers still fall;
A bird sings, and the mountain holds yet more mystery.

All waters contain the moon;
Not a mountain but the clouds girdle it.

Entering the forest, he does not disturb a blade of grass;
Entering the water, he does not cause a ripple.

One word determines the whole world;
One sword pacifies heaven and hell. (WZ-153)

The plum tree, dwindling, contains less of the spring;
But the garden is wider, and holds more of the moon.

The tree manifest the bodily power of the wind;
The wave exhibits the spiritual nature of the moon.

Go out, and you meet Shakyamuni;
Go home, and you meet Miroku Buddha.

From of old there were not two paths;
"Those who have arrived" all walked the same road.

Draw water, and you think the mountain are moving;
Raise the sail, and you think the cliffs are on the run.

In the vast inane there is no back or front;
The path of the bird annihilates East and West.

Only seeing the sharpness of the awl;
Not knowing the squareness of the stone-chisel.

This night the Buddha entered Nirvana;
It was like firewood burned utterly away.

One leaf, a Shakyamuni;
One hair, a Miroku.

To preserve life, it must be destroyed;
When it is completely destroyed for the first time there is rest.

Perceiving the sun in the midst of the rain;
Ladling out clear water from the depths of the fire.

When a cow of Kaishu eats mulberry leaves,
The belly of a horse in Ekishu is distended.

To have the sun and moon in one's sleeve;
To hold the universe in the palm of one's hand.

If you do not get is from yourself,
Where will you go for it?

The water a cow drinks turns to milk;
The water a snake drinks turns to poison.

Many words injure virtue;
Wordlessness is essentially effective.

Though we lean together upon the same balustrade,
The colours of the mountain are not the same.

How good it is that the whole Body
Of Kwannon enters into the wild grasses!

Taking up one blade of grass,
Use it as a sixteen-foot golden Buddha.

The blue hills are of themselves blue hills;
The white clouds are of themselves white clouds.

If you have not read "The Analects",
How can you know the meaning of Zen?

Heat does not wait for the sun, to be hot,
Nor wind the moon, to be cool. (WZ-118)

Nothing whatever is hidden;
From of old, all is clear as daylight.

The old pine-tree speaks divine wisdom;
The secret bird manifests eternal truth.

Seeing, they see not;
Hearing, they hear not.

Just one pistil of the plum flower, --
And the three thousand worlds are fragrant.

Unmon's staff is too short;
Yakusan's baton is too long.

Every man has beneath his feet
Ground enough to do zazen on.

If you do not kill him,
You will be killed by him.

You may wish to ask where the flowers come from,
But even Tokun [the god of spring] does not know.

If you meet an enlightened man in the street,
Do not greet him with words, nor with silence.

Where the interplay of "is" and "is not" is fixed,
Not even the sages can know.

The water before, and the water after,
Now and forever flowing, follow each other.

What is written is of ages long ago,
But the heart knows all the gain and loss.

There is no place to seek the mind;
It is like the footprints of the birds in the sky.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, grass grows by itself.

Above, not a piece of tile to cover the head;
Beneath, not an inch of earth to put one's foot on.

The mouth desires to speak, but the words disappear;
The heart desires to associate itself, but the thoughts fade away.

If you wish to know the road up the mountain,
You must ask the man who goes back and forth on it.

Simply you must empty "is" of meaning,
And to take "is not" as real.

One mote flying up dims the sky;
One speck of dust covers the earth.

Is there anything to compare with wearing of clothes and eating of food?
Beyond this there is no Buddha or Bodhisattva. (WZ-152)

To know the original Mind, the essential Mature,
This is the great disease of (our) religion. (WZ-152)

The Tathagata's True-Law Eye-Treasury, --
It is just like two mirrors reflecting each other.

It cannot be attained by mind;
It is not to be sought after through mindlessness. (WZ-136)

It cannot be created by speech;
It cannot be penetrated by silence.

The geese do not wish to leave their reflection behind;
The water has no mind to retain their image. (WZ-181)

Falling mist flies together with the wild ducks;
The waters of autumn are of one colour with the sky.

The old tree leans over the waves, its cold image swaying;
Mist hovers above the grass, the evening sun fading.

If you do not believe, look at September, look at October,
How the yellow leaves, fall, and fill mountain and river.

Above the bare boughs of a thousand hill, a vast, distant sky;
Over the path of the river, a radiant moon.

When Buddha thrust out his three inches of iron [his tongue],
Then for the first time were known the swords and spears of the world.

I went there and came back; it was nothing special;
Mount Ro wreathed in mist; Sekko at high tide.

Planting flowers to which the butterflies come,
Daruma says, "I know not". (WZ-171)

The broken mirror will not again reflect;
Fallen flowers will hardly rise up to the branch.

When spring comes, many visitors enjoy themselves at the temple;
When the flowers fall, only the monk who shuts the gate is left.

I know not from what temple
The wind brings the voice of the bell.

Yuima is disinclined to open his mouth,
But on the bough, a single cicada is chirping.

He holds the handle of the hoe, but his hands are empty;
He rides astride the water-buffalo, but he is walking. (Blyth, H-1-183)

When moving in all directions,
Even the Buddha cannot discourse upon it. (H-1-185)

A long thing is the long body of Buddha;
A short thing is the short body of Buddha. (H-1-187)

Alive, I will not receive the Heavenly Halls;
Dead, I fear no Hell. (H-1-205)

The blue hills are by their nature immovable;
The white clouds of themselves come and go. (H-1-246)

In the garden shines the moon, but there is no shadow beneath the pine-tree;
Out side the balustrade, no wind, but the bamboos are rustling. (H-2-443)

In face, the bamboos of Chia, peach-blossoms;
At heart, thorns and briers of Ts'an-tien. (H-2-441)

In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse;
The flowering branches are of themselves, some long, some short.
(H-2-580, WZ-125)

I gazed to my heart's content at the scenery of Shosho,
Painting even my own boat into the picture. (H-3-706)

The three worlds are only mind;
All things are simply perception. (H-3-789)

The water flows, but back to the Ocean;
The moon sinks, but is ever in Heaven. (H-3-943)

Breaking off a branch of crimson leaves, and writing thoughts of autumn;
Plucking the yellow flowers, and making them the evening meal. (H-4-1097)

Stones rise up into the sky;
Fire burns down through the water. (ZEL-12)

Ride your horse along the edge of a sword;
Hide yourself in the middle of the flames. (ZEL-12)

Blossoms of the fruit tree bloom in the fire;
The sun rises in the evening. (ZEL-12)

The clear streams never ceases their flowing;
The evergreen trees never lose their green. (ZEL-28)

The flowers abloom on the hill are like brocade;
The brimming mountain lake is black as indigo. (ZEL-28)

Day after day the sun rises in the east;
Day after day it sets in the west. (ZEL-29)

Ever onwards to where the waters have an end;
Waiting motionless for when the white clouds shall arise. (ZEL-35)

Walking up the mountain path I came to the source of the stream;
While sitting in quietude I watch how the clouds rise. (Suzuki, EZ-3-43)

We sleep with both legs stretched well out;
For us, no truth, no error exist. (ZEL-37)

For long years a bird in a cage;
Now, flying along with the clouds of heaven. (ZEL-37)

Buddha was silent, but explained everything;
Kasho heard nothing, but apprehended all. (ZEL-151)

Receiving trouble is receiving grace;
Receiving happiness is receiving a trial. (ZEL-277)

Scoop up the water and the moon is in your hands;
Hold the flower and your clothes are scented with them. (ZEL-279)

The mirror reflects the tapers of the golden pavilion;
The mountain echoes the bell of the moon-tower. (ZEL-291)

Summer at its height -- and snow on the rocks!
The death of winter -- and the withered tree blooms! (ZEL-344)

On Mount Wu-t'ai the clouds are steaming rice;
Before the ancient Buddha hall, dogs piss at heaven. (WZ-189)

One, two, three, four, five, six. (ZZC-2-202)

Clouds are moving;
Waters are swelling. (ZZC-2-202)

Rabbits and horses have horns;
Cows are sheep have none. (ZZC-2-203)

Navigating a ship on dry ground,
Riding a horse through the empty air. (ZZC-2-203)

Fine rain wets the garment, but though we gaze it cannot be seen;
The flowers quietly fall to the ground, but though we listen,
we cannot hear it. (ZZC-2-203)


Selections from A Zen Phrase Anthology
Translated by Ruth Fuller Sasaki
In: Zen Dust, New York, 1966, pp. 79-122.


The willows are green, the flowers are red.
I alone walk in the red heavens.
To lose one's money and incur punishment as well.
A second offence is not permitted.
He who knows the law fears it.
To take what's coming to you and get out.
To know, yet deliberately to transgress.
Briskly and spiritedly.
To acknowledge a thief as one's child.
To cover one's ears and steal the bell.
Words fail.
To hide a spear within a smile.
It can't be swallowed, it can't be spitted out.
A dragon's head, and a snake's tail.
The sacred tortoise drags its tail.
The family is broken up, the house destroyed.
The leper drags his friends along with him.
To work hard and accomplish nothing.
He's fallen deep in the weeds.
Guest and host are clearly distinguishable.


Fragrant, the valley's single plum flower.
At every step the pure wind rises.
Even a good thing is not so good as nothing.
He doesn't recognize the smell of his own dung.
A beloved son is not ugly.
To gouge out healthy flesh and make a wound.
He made good use of his father's money.
In the pot sun and moon shine eternally.
There's no cool spot in a cauldron of boiling water.
Though the frog leaps, it can't get out of the bushel.
The poor man thinks about his unpaid debts.
To wash a clod of earth in the mud.
The single-saucer lamp within the room.
In a good talk, don't explain everything.
Pushing down the ox's head, he makes it eat grass.
A skillful craftsman leaves to traces.
When the earth is fertile, the eggplants are large.
The extremity of grief.
There is no waste in the Imperial Court.
White clouds hold lonely rocks in their embrace.


Scoop up water, and the moon is in your hands;
Toy with flowers, and their fragrance scents your garments.

A thousand grasses weep tears of dew;
A single pine tree murmurs in the breeze.

Seeking fire, you find it with smoke;
Carrying spring-water, you bring it back with the moon.

Ten years of dreams in the forest!
Now on the lake's edge laughing, laughing a new laugh.

The ten directions are without walls;
The four quarters are without gates.

Who can know that far off in the misty waves
Another yet more excellent realm of thought exists?

For ten years I couldn't return;
Now I've forgotten the road by which I came.

Only I myself can enjoy it;
It is not suitable to present to you.

The murmuring of the spring as the night deepens;
The colouring of the hills as the sun goes down.

Where the sun and moon do not reach,
There is marvelous scenery indeed!

Singing his poem, he rolls the bamboo blind high;
Having finished his nap, he parches the tea leaves dark.

The dragon-hum in the dead tree,
The eyeball in the dry skull.

A hidden bird twitters "Nam, nam";
Taking leave of the cloud, I enter the scattered peaks.

Autumn wind, blowing over the waters of the Wei,
Covers all Ch'ang-an with falling leaves.

A light breeze stirs the lonely pine,
The sound is more pleasant heard close by.

Now that I've shed my skin completely,
One true reality alone exists.

When you're really master of the myriad forms,
Throughout the four seasons there's no withering, no decay.

I meet him, but know not who he is;
I converse with him, but do not know his name.

When you recognize (Mind's) nature while according with its flow,
There's no more joy, nor is there any sorrow.

The five petals of the one flower open,
And the fruit of itself is ripe.


Before, three times three; behind, three times three.
Stupidly steadfast, steadfastly stupid.
He displays a sheep's head but sells dogs flesh.
The well looks at the ass; the ass looks at the well.
Riding backwards on an ox, I enter the Buddha-hall.
A good son doesn't use his father's money.
Honest speech is better than a red face.
An angry fist does not strike a smiling face.
Rice in the bawl, water in the bucket.
The flute without holes is the most difficult to blow.
Three m en testified about the tortoise, so that makes it a turtle.
The arm doesn't bend outward.
Going to hell with the speed of an arrow.
Better to see the face than to hear the name.
The haze mist does not stay the plum flower's fragrance.
Don't display the family skeletons in public.
Astride a blind ass he pursues a fierce tiger.
He's hitting at a ball on swift-flowing water.
The good merchant hides his possessions well and appears to have nothing.
Mr. Tsang's head is white; Mr. Hai's head is black.


Believing this to be radiance and spirituality,
He is content to run is front of asses and follow after horses.

The cold kills you with cold, the heat kills you with heat.

Above, there isn't a piece of tile to cover his head;
Below, there isn't an inch of earth for his to stand on.

When a mouth want to speak about it, words fail;
When the mind seeks affinity with it, thought vanishes.

Sun and moon cannot illumine it completely;
Heaven and earth cannot cover it entirely.

Though we're born of the same lineage,
We don't die of the same lineage.

When we're reviling on another, you may give me tit for tat;
When we're spitting at one another, you may spew me with slobber.

The deer-hunter doesn't see the mountains,
The miser doesn't see men.

Bodhidharma didn't come to Chine,
The Second Patriarch didn't go to India.

Breathing in, he does not stay in the realm of the skandhas;
Breathing out, he is not concerned with the myriad things.

Last year's poverty was not real poverty;
But this year's poverty is poverty indeed.

The devas find no path on which to strew flowers;
The heretics secretly spying find nothing to see.

Even Li Lou cannot discern the true form;
How, then, can Shih K'uang distinguish the subtle tune?

Last year's plum and this year's willow --
Their color and fragrance are as of old.

Having cut off the top of Vairocana's head,
I don't know that any buddha or patriarch ever existed.

As the limits of heaven the sun rises and the moon sets;
Beyond the balustrade the mountains deepen and the waters become chill.

He sees only the winding of the stream and the twisting of the path;
He does not know that already he is in the land of the immortals.

He who would understand the meaning of Buddha-nature
Must watch for the season and the causal relations.

Every voice is the voice of Buddha,
Every form is the Buddha-form.

The wild goose has no intention of leaving traces,
The water has no thought of engulfing reflections.


The instant you speak about a thing you miss the mark.
How can the mountain-finch know the wild swan's aspiring?
The eight-cornered mortar rushes across the sky.
The badges and the white bull emit a glorious radiance.
With no bird singing the mountain is yet more still.
In the spring beyond time the withered tree flowers.
When the snowy heron stands in the snow, the colors are not the same.
A second try is not worth half a cash.
A pair of monkeys are reaching for the moon in the water.
How many times for your sake have I gone down into the blue dragon's cave!
When pure gold enters the fire, its color becomes still brighter.
Endlessly rise the distant mountains, blue heaped upon blue.
You must see for yourself the red-flowers drenched in moonlight.
The marks are on the balance-arm, not on the scale-pan.
My single peal of laughter startles heaven and earth.
To turn a somersault on a needle's point.
The garrulous reverend can't open his trap.
Each time you bring it up, each time it is new.
The rat that entered the money box is as its wit's end.
Eternally and everlastingly it is revealing itself to men.


You've drunk three cups of wine
At the house of Pai in Ch'uan-chou,
And yet you still declare,
"My lips aren't even moistened".

Water from the edge of th bamboos
Flows out refreshing,
Breeze from the heart of the flowers
Passes by fragrant.

When Hsiang-t'an's clouds disperse,
The evening mountains appear;
When Pa-shu's snows vanish,
The spring waters flow.

The mandarin ducks I've embroidered
I give you leave to look at,
But the golden needle that made them
Do not pass on to men.

Waves as the Yu Gate have risen
And the fish become dragons,
Yet fools still scoop out
The embankment's dank water.

Evening near the riverside --
A scene for a painter.
Throwing on his straw raincoat,
The fisherman returns home.

The moon outside my window
Is usually the same moon,
But as soon as there are plum flowers
It becomes a different moon.

No need at all of hills and streams
For quiet meditation;
When the mind had been extinguished
Even fire is refreshing.

The monkeys, clasping their young to their breasts,
Return behind the blue peaks;
A bird, holding a flower in its beak,
Alight before the green grotto.

With his staff across his back,
He pays no heed to men;
Quickly entering the myriad peaks,
He goes upon his way.

I saw merely fallen petals
Blown away by the wind;
How could I know that the garden trees'
Green shadows are many?

Fearsome and solitary in mien,
He does not boast of himself;
But, dwelling gravely in his domain,
Decides who is snake, who is dragon.

Over the river country
Spring winds are not stirring,
From within the deep flowers
The partridges cry.

When your spirit is high,
Augment your spirit;
Where there is no style,
There is also some style.

Snowy herons alighting in a field --
Thousands of snowflakes!
Yellow nightingales perching in a tree --
A flower-decked bough.

The golden bracelet on her arm
Is too loose by an inch,
Yet on meeting one she merely says:
"No, I'm not in love".

Lotus leaves are round,
Rounder even than a mirror;
Water-chestnut horns are sharp,
Sharper even than a gimlet.

In the bottomless bamboo basket
I put the white moon;
In the bowl of mindlessness
I store the pure breeze.

He himself took the jar
And bought the village wine;
Now he dons a robe
And makes himself the host.

Bamboo shadows sweep the stairs,
Yet not a mote of dust is stirred;
Moonbeams pierce to the bottom of the pool,
Yet in the water not a trace remains.


Though gold-dust is precious,
In the eyes it obscures the vision.

Three thousand blows in the morning,
Eight hundred in the evening.

Lovely snowflakes,
They fall nowhere else!

To look for hair on the back of a tortoise
Or seek for horns on the head of a rabbit.

When the stone man nods his head,
The wooden pillar claps its hands.

To shave iron from the needle-point;
To hack flesh from a heron's leg.

When I drop the line down a thousand feet,
My objective lies in the depth of the pool.

When chickens are cold they roost in a tree;
When ducks are cold they dive into the water.

The true does not conceal the false;
The bent does not hide the straight.

To the intelligent man, one word;
To the fleet horse, one flick of the whip.

When will the fellow who plays with the dirt
Ever have done!

Laymen and holy men dwell together,
Dragons and snakes intermingle.

Officially, a needle is not permitted to pass;
Unofficially, carriages can get through.

The oyster holds a moonbeam in its mouth;
The rabbit cherishes a child in its womb.

Entering fire he is not burned;
Entering water he is not drowned.

In the morning he reaches India;
In the evening he returns to China.

A fish that can swallow a boat
Doesn't swim around is a valley stream.

Ch'ao-fu waters his ox;
Hsu Yu washes his ears.

I do not emulate the sages;
I alone am to be revered.


When the sword-disc flies,
Sun and moon darken;
When the jewel-staff strikes,
Heaven and earth pale.

In the blacksmith's shop
There are still piles of blunt iron;
At the good physician's gate
More and more sick men wait.

From the top of the solitary peak,
I gaze at the clouds;
Close by the old ferry landing,
I am splashed with mire.

On the first day of winter
I sell my quilt and buy an ox;
On the last day of winter
I sell my ox and buy a quilt.

To pursue the Great Roc
Into the tube of a lotus stem;
To put Mount Sumeru
Into the eye of a midge.

On the Ku-su Terrace
We do not speak of the spring and autumn;
In front of my face
How can you discuss the profoundly mysterious!

If you want to write such a poem,
You must first be capable of such a mind;
If you want to paint such a picture,
You must first be capable of grasping such a form.

The fishermen singing on the misty shore
All extol good fortune and honour;
The woodcutters chanting among the lofty trees
Together rejoice in the era of peace.

If you can understand,
You will return to your village and became a rustic;
If you cannot understand,
You sill starve on Shou-yang.

On the top of the solitary peak,
He whistles at the moon and sleeps in the clouds;
Within the vast ocean,
He overturns the waves and rouses the breakers.

Not to take what Heaven gives
Is to incur Heaven's calamity;
Not to act when the moment comes
Is to incur Heaven's misfortune.

Enwrapped in billows of white clouds,
I do not see the white clouds;
Absorbed in the sounds of flowing water,
I do not hear the flowing water.

When Yao's influence spread throughout the land,
The peasants sang their songs;
When Shun's radiance shone o'er his vast domain,
The fishermen drummed with their oars.

I take blindness as vision, darkness as hearing;
I take danger as safety, and prosperity as misfortune.

When I see smoke beyond the mountain, I know there's a fire;
When I see horns beyond the fence, I know there's an ox.

To pass through the dusky turmoil of the world
You must know the main road;
To dispense healing medicine
You must first inquire into the source of the illness.

When an ordinary man attains knowledge he is a sage;
When a sage attains understanding he is an ordinary man.

Though a cockatoo can talk,
It is just a bird;
Though an orang-outang can speak,
It is still just a beast.

But for the rule and the compass,
The square and the circle could not be determined;
But for the plumb-line,
The straight and the bent could not be rectified.

Above the budless branches,
The golden phoenix soars;
Around the shadowless tree,
The jade elephant circumambulates.




Fordította: Faludy György
In: Test és Lélek, 396-397. oldal

[Öt vers]

Fakul a fű a vézna fák alatt.
Lehullott a gyümölcsös levele,
de kertünk mégis egyre tágasabb,
mert több holdvilág fér bele.

Itt állunk a kilátó korlátjánál
szorosan egymás mellett, és szájtátva
nézzük a hegyláncot a messzeségben,
bár mindegyikünk más színűnek látja.

Érvelsz? Az érvelés nem magyarázat.
Ne másnak papolj: magaddal közöld,
hogy fejed felett nincs tető, sem lábad
alatt egyetlen talpalatnyi föld.

Nem kerüli el gondját semmi;
a mindenség okát kívánja
kifejteni s fejünkbe verni.
Ez vallásunk legfőbb hibája.

Mi az ész s az észnek a test?
Utitárs, sírbolt, szálloda?
S a lélek? Felhők közt keresd,
milyen a madár lábnyoma.





Hét vers a Zenrin kusú antológiából
Fordította: Terebess Gábor

Kōzu mo naki ni wa shikazu.

Holmi jónál jobb a semmi.


Kanji wa jari o kansatsu shi,
Netsuji wa jari o nessatsu su.

A hideg hideggel öl,
a meleg meleggel öl.


Kari ni ishō no i naku,
Mizu ni chin'ei no kokoro nashi.

Tóra vetül vadlúd-árnyék,
nincsen ebben semmi szándék.
Nem érez a tó sem vágyat:
viseljen a tükrén árnyat.


Húznak a ludak magasan,
Elmennek innen, okosan.
Messzire mennek jég, hó elöl –
Ne nézz rájuk: a vágy megöl.

Jékely Zoltán: Altató (részlet, 1949. október 9.)

Ahogy a kő fölött beforr a hab,
ahogy a gyűrű szétfut a hangtalan vizen -
a végén ránctalan nemlét marad,
mintha sosem lett volna semmi sem

Rakovszky Zsuzsa: Dal az időről (részlet, 1988)


ōjō banrai egaku ni taetaru tokoro;
Gyojin issa o hi shiete kaeru.

A folyópart bealkonyul.
Milyen festői kép!
De vállára dobja sásköpenyét
a halász, és hazaindul.


Chikuei kai o haratte chiri ugokazu,
Tsuki tantei o ugatte mizu ni ato nashi.

Lépcsőt söpör bambusz árnya,
bár a por rendíthetetlen.
Tómélybe váj hold sugára,
bár a víztükör sértetlen.


A bambuszárnyak a kőlépcsőt súrolják,
mintha felsöpörnék, a por mégse rezdül.
A hold a tó mélyén visszatükröződik,
a vízen mégse látszik behatolás nyoma.

Agócs Tamás fordítása D.T. Suzuki angol verziójából


Take mitsu ni shite ryūsui suguru o samatagezu,
Yama takōshite ani hakuun no tobu koto o saen ya

Sűrűn nőtt bambusz se torpantja meg víznek áradását,
Magas hegygerinc se állítja meg felhők vonulását


Sōrō no mizu sumaba motte wa ga ei o araubeshi,
Sōrō no mizu nigoraba motte wa ga ashi o araubeshi.

Ha tiszta a folyó, arcot is moshatsz.
Ha saras a folyó, lábat még moshatsz.