I. Living and dying
An old sage1 said, when his time came to die
to lay his coffin between the earth and sky.
When this occasion comes around for me,
a reed mat on a pole is all I’ll need.
From my corpse the green flies will get a feed,
the white crane easily sing a eulogy.
What’s left, dump on a hillside in the sun.
Living and dying turn out to be just as much fun.
II. Spurned by philosophers
By gentleman philosophers I’m spurned,
and I, acting the fool, spurn them in turn.
Neither knowing nor a fool, indeed,
our mutual discourse can from here proceed.
The shining moon becomes the song of night,
dawn’s approach the dance of clouds so white.
Thus with the simplest needs do I get by,
crosslegged, wild hair waving at the sky.
III. On the wheel
Of all the philosophers of ancient times,
not one has ever attained longevity.
No sooner born than heading back to death,
becoming dust and ash their destiny.
Their bones are piled as high as Mt Meru,2
their farewell tears become a flooding sea.
All that is left here is an empty name.
The wheel of birth and death—where can one flee?
IV. Those keen on philosophy
I look at those keen on philosophy,
who comprehend all that they contemplate.
Perusing written records ceaselessly,
the Buddha-ground they easily penetrate.
The mind is not attached to what it seeks,
and thus no wayward notions can arise.
When the sense of mind does not appear,
no excess things appear, inside, outside.
Han Shan, ‘Spurned by philosophers’, transl. Span Hanna, in Synkrētic №2 (Jun. 2022): 170-171.