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CHAN POEMS BY BAI JUYI
CONTEMPLATING THE ILLUSORY
by Bai Juyi (772 - 846, Tang Dynasty)
English translation: John Balcom

All that arises exists because of cessation;
Without being apart, there is no coming together.
Delight will end in sorrow,
Turn to suffering, and become emptiness.
Your eyes grow weak with age,
Soon the candle will burn out in the wind,
With no place it can be found,
As birds’ tracks left behind in the sky.


READINGS ON CHAN CLASSICS
English translation: Miao Guang

Let it be known that
all phenomena are in fact no phenomenon;
To abide in nirvana without remainder
would be an action done with remainder;
To imply in one’s speech
the meaninglessness of speech,
an immediate solution is thus found;
To have a dream within a dream
is an attainment of doubling the void;
How can a flower of emptiness bear its own fruit?
Where is the fish in the mirage of an ocean?
Stilled movement is Chan, while Chan itself is movement,
Attaching neither to movement nor Chan
shall make one simple as thus.

── from Bai Juyi Shiji Jiaozhu (Revisions and Annotations of Bai Juyi’s Poetic Works)


ASKING CHAN MASTER NIAOKE
English translation: You Zai

Entering the gate of emptinessto
inquire on suffering and emptiness,
Gallantly requesting about
Chan affairs from the Chan master.
Should our dreams be regarded as the affairs of this transient life,
Or this transient life as nothing but the
events in our dreams?

── from Wulin Xihu Gaoseng Shilue (Biographical Sketches of Eminent Monks at Wulin West Lake)