Zen Poetry and Sayings

Selected Quotations









                              Earth, mountains, rivers - hidden in this nothingness.
                              In this nothingness - earth, mountains, rivers revealed.
                              Spring flowers, winter snows:
                              There's no being or non-being, nor denial itself. 

                                                       -    Saisho  (circa 1490)
                                                             Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, p.32
                                                             Translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto






We pray for our life of tomorrow,
      Ephemeral life though it be;
This is the habit of our mind
      That passed away yesterday.

               -    Ikkyu
                    Zen and Zen Classics: Selections from R. H. Blyth, p. 111







Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent

The wind has settled, the blossoms have fallen;
Birds sing, the mountains grow dark --
This is the wondrous power of Buddhism.

-   Ryokan






Zen Poetry: Selected Quotations I







What a difference!   What a difference!
Raise the blind, and see the world!
If someone asks me to tell him what my religion is
I raise my hossu and strike his mouth.

               -    Chokei,  853 - 932
                    Zen and Zen Classics: Selections from R. H. Blyth, p. 227







For twenty years I've sought the Other.
Now, letting go, I fly out of the pit.
What use oneness of mind and body?
These days I only sing la-la-la.

 -    Keso Shogaku, 15th C
Zen Poems of China and Japan







kamon.gif (3866 bytes)







Thirty spokes join together in the hub.
It is because of what is not there that the cart is useful.
Clay is formed into a vessel.
It is because of its emptiness that the vessel is useful.
Cut doors and windows to make a room.
It is because of its emptiness that the room is useful.
Therefore, what is present is used for profit.

But it is in absence that there is usefulness.

-   Tao Te Ching, #11
Translated by Charles Muller






Flowers in the Sky (Kuge): Zen Master Dogen







Standing alone on a solitary peak,
The gateless gate crumbles.
Moving straight up the windy
Heaven and earth are walking as one.

Buddhas intimate with buddhas--
What need is there for old
medicine bottles?
Then thousand blossoms perfume
the vast sky.
Like this, like this !

-   Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, 1982
                                             The Ten Directions, Summer/Fall 1982, Vol 3, No.2, pp 16.







All beings by nature are Buddha,
as ice by nature is water;
apart from water there is no ice,
apart from beings no Buddha.

    - Hakuin Zenki, Song of Zazen






The Five Precepts of Zen Buddhism







Although I try
to hold the single thought
of Buddha's teaching in my heart,
I cannot help but hear
the many crickets' voices calling as well.

-   Izumi Shikibu, Japan







An instant realization sees endless time.
Endless time is as one moment.
When one comprehends the endless moment
He realizes the person who is seeing it.
-   Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, p. 158






Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong






With thy perfect intelligence and compassion
Which are beyond all limit,
Thou comprehends the egolessness of things and persons,
And, art free and clear from the hindrances of passion and egoism.
Thou do not vanish into Nirvana,
Nor does Nirvana abide in thee,
For Nirvana transcends all duality of knowing and known,
Of being and non-being.
Those who see thee thus,
Serene and beyond conceptions,
Will be emancipated from attachment,
Will be cleansed of all defilement,
Both in this world and in the spiritual world beyond.
In this world, whose nature is like a dream,
there is a place for praise and blame;
But, in the ultimate Reality of the Dharmakaya,
Which is far beyond the senses and the discriminating mind,
What is there to praise?
O Thou Most Wise!

-    Lankavatara Sutra
     The Gnostic Society







In Zen, poetry is not a technology of language, but rather a
practice of closing the gap between word and action so that

one may come to a point when word is will-manifest, where
real and dream are no more discrete realms. The Zen poet
then ultimately concerns himself not with the skeletons of
words but with shock, with riddle, and with the movement
from head to entirety of being-in-body.

     -   Leon Tang
                                 Zen and a Poetry of Being






There ain't no answer.
There ain't going to be an answer.
There never has been an answer.
That's the answer.
-   Gertrude Stein







Zen Poetry: Links, Bibliography and Resources







A man as old as a dragon bell, I walk slowly
to visit a meditation temple,
to ask the mean of a good heart.   Remotely,
I feel the sickness of the void is itself void.
Mountains and rivers are in the Buddha's eye,
the universe in dharma's body.
Don't be surprised that meditation controls hot days
and raises wind over the land.

-  Wang Wei,  699-761
Laughing Lost in the Mountains: Poems of Wang Wei,   p. 133







Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
and beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace ......

-   Rainer Maria Rilke  (1875 - 1926)
    "Buddha in Glory," from The Enlightened Heart, Edited by Stephen Mitchell, p 131






The Cypress Tree in the Courtyard







Completely freed from yes and no;
great emptiness charged within;
no questions, no answers;
like a fish, like a fool.

-   Robert Aitken, Roshi, Verse of the Han







              Walking is Zen,
              Sitting, too, is Zen.
              If I speak or am silent,
              Tarry or hasten:
              Everything, in its true nature,
              Is stillness.    

                            -  Shodoka






You should know that such people will have planted good roots
With not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four or five Buddhas, 
But will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas. 
All who hear such phrases and produce even one thought 
Of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathagata. 
Such living beings thus obtain measureless blessings and virtue. 
And why? 
Those living beings have no further mark of self, of others, of living beings, 
Or of a life; 
No mark of dharmas and no mark of no dharmas. 
If your hearts grasp at marks, then that is attachment to self, to others, to living beings, and to a life. 
For that reason you should not grasp at dharmas, nor should you grasp at no dharmas. 
All you Bhiksus should know that the dharma which I speak is like a raft. 
Even dharmas should be relinquished, how much the more so no dharmas.
-   The Buddha, The Diamond Sutra






And before the Wise Ones appeared,
Forty million years of ducks in the mud.

Blowing out a candle
                   ten thousand miles away
Cutting up a duck for dinner.

A dog barks at nothing,
a thousand ducks twitch--
winds of winter.

Has a duck the Buddha-Nature?
Stop quacking like a duck."

-   Michael P. Garofalo,  Above the Fog





Green Way Journal by Michael P. Garofalo







Zen Poems: Links, Bibliography, Resources, Notes






                As all things are Buddha-Dharma,
                There are delusion, realization, practice,
                           birth and death,
                           buddhas and sentient beings.
                As myriad things are without an abiding self,
                There is no delusion, no realization,
                           no buddha, no sentient being,
                           no birth and death.
                The buddha way, in essence,
                Is leaping clear of abundance and lack;
                           thus there are birth and death,
                           delusion and realization,
                           sentient beings and buddhas.
                 Yet in attachment blossoms fall,
                 And in aversion weeds spread.

                            -   Zen Master Dogen
                                       Actualizing the Fundamental Point
                                       Enlightenment Unfolds, Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, p. 35







                       Tea is not but this:
                              First you make the water boil,
                              Then infuse the tea.
                              Then you drink it properly.
                              That is all you need to know.    

                                         -   Verses of Sen-No-Rikyu, Tea Master






The sound of the water
says what I think.
-   Chuang Tzu







                                Contemplating the clear moon
                                                     Reflecting a mind empty as the open sky -
              Drawn by its beauty,
I lose myself
                    In the shadows it casts.

                          -    Dogen, 1200 -1253
                                            Translated by Steven Heine
                                                                                        Motion and Emotion in Medieval Japanese Literature






Then in the end
one leaves the body
together with one's possessions.
Knowing this, the intelligent man
Enjoys possessions and gives.

Having enjoyed and given
in line with his means,
uncensored he goes
to the heavenly state.

          -   Aditta Sutra
                 Translated by John Bullitt







                                          Weary body, inviting bed
                                          nestled around zendo
                                          under the stars.
                                          The world my pillow,
                                          the sky my blanket,
                                          the dharma my warmth
                                          - dreams of sesshin.

                                                                -    Dean Crabb
                                                                    The Last Samu Weekend








                                          Above, below and around you, all is
                                          Spontaneously exisitng, for
                                          There is nowhere which is
                                          Outside Buddha-Mind.

                                                                -    Huang Po





Old Pan Kou knows nothing about time
and nothing about space has well.
His life is self-natured and self-sufficient.
He needs to ask for nothing outside of his own being.
The genesis of the world is the exercise of his mind.
When his mind starts to think, the world starts to move.
The world has never been made by any special desing.
Neither has an end ever been put to it.

-   The Song of Pan Kou








A little while when I am gone
My life will live in music after me,
As spun foam lifted and borne on
After the wave is lost in the full sea.

A while these nights and days will burn
In song with the bright frailty of foam,
Living in light before they turn
Back to the nothingness that is their home.

-    Sara Teasdale, A Little While







I asked a child, walking with a candle, 
      "From where comes that light?"
Instantly he blew it out. 
       "Tell me where it is gone -- 
         then I will tell you where it came from." 
-   Hasan of Basra





If you want to be free,
Get to know your real self.
It has no form, no appearance,
No root, no basis, no abode,
But is lively and buoyant.
It responds with versatile facility,
But its function cannot be located.
Therefore when you look for it,
You become further from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it all the more.
- Linji





Master, I am new here.
What is your teaching?
"Have you already eaten your gruel?"
"Go wash your bowl."
Master, what more can you teach me?
I do not understand.
Thank you, Master.
-   Yun-men (864-949), Blue Cliff Record and Book of Equannimity





When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they're full, they worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don't consider the past.
And they don't worry about the future.
Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.
-   Bodhidharma




Look directly!
What is this?
Look in this manner
And you wonít be fooled!
-   Bassui




In a moonlit night on a spring day,
the croak of a frog
pierces through the whole cosmos
turning it into
a single family.

-   Chang Chin-ch'en, From the Golden Age of Zen, p. 284






It is as though you have an eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know itself?
-  Foyan







Untold unspeakables
Fill all unspeakables;
The unspeakable eons
Explanation of the unspeakable
     cannot be finished.

If untold Buddha-lands are reduced
to atoms,
In one atom are untold lands,
And as in one,
So in each.  

-   The Buddha, The Flower Ornament Scripture






 despite fascination 
do not be concerned 
that form is emptiness 
and emptiness is form 
It is All 
a brown falling leaf 
no different 

- Michael McClure






Last day of Spring,
                ripe purple plums drop--
form is emptiness.

     First day of Summer,
         ditch completely dry--
emptiness is form.

              -  Michael Garofalo, Above the Fog







Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.

-  Zen Master Dogen




Food and clothes sustain
Body and life;
I advise you to learn
Being as is.
When itís time,
I move my hermitage and go,
And thereís nothing
To be left behind.
-   Layman Píang



Zen Poetry: Selected Quotations

Next: V

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Distributed on the Internet by Michael P. Garofalo



I Welcome Your Comments, Ideas, Contributions, and Suggestions


A Short Biography of Mike Garofalo




Poetry Notebook III of Michael P. Garofalo
Zen Poetry: Selected Quotations IV
Available on the Net since Januay, 2000.
April 8, 2005




The Spirit of Gardening

Quotes for Gardeners

Cloud Hands: Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong

Haiku Poetry:  Links, References, Resources

Zen Poetry







































































































Alphabetical Subject Index


Cloud Hands Website
Taijiquan, Qigong, Taoism, Classics, Weapons: Sword and Staff

Fitness and Well Being Website

      Gardening, Meditation, Walking, Yoga, Strength Training,
      Fitness for Older Persons, Aerobics, Relaxation  

The Spirit of Gardening

2,700 Quotes Arranged by 130 Topics, History, Guides,
     Psycho-Spiritual Aspects of Gardening 

Web Guides, Bibliographies, Links, Directories, Quotes, Notes


Alphabetical Subject Index


Aging Well   

Alphabetical Subject Index to the Cloud Hands Website   

Ancient Goddesses - Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Prayers, Songs

Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi): Tiger, Bear, Crane, Deer, and Monkey

Arthritis Therapy - Exercise: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung      

Bear, Standing Bear, Level 1 Ranking, Valley Spirit Taijiquan

The Bear: The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi)    

Bibliography - Taijiquan

Breathing and Taijiquan     

Bibliography - Ch'i Kung

Breathing and Yoga

Buddhism and Martial Arts    

Buddhist Ethics

California (Northern) T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools, Information

Charkas (Energy Centers of the Subtle Body)

Chan Ssu Chin - Silk Reeling    

Cheng Man-Ch'ing  (1901-1975)    

Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan     

Ch'i or Qi

Ch'i Kung: Bibliography and Links    

Ch'i Kung Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo in Red Bluff, California

Ch'i or Qi and Taijiquan     

Classics of T'ai Chi Ch'uan     

Cloud Hands: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Ch'i Kung     

Cloud Hands T'ai Chi Ch'uan Journal     

Cold Mountain Poets: Wanderers, Mystics, and Sages     

Confucius (K'ung Fu-tzu)  (551 - 479 BCE)   

Crane, Soaring Crane, Intermediate Program, Level 3, Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Cuttings: Short Poems by Michael P. Garofalo  

Cuttings: Above the Fog  

Dance and Taijiquan       

The Deer: The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi)    

Diabetes Therapy - Exercise: Taijiquan and Qigong   

Disclaimer of the Cloud Hands Website  

Eight Section Brocade Ch'i Kung       

Eight Silken Treasures Qigong    

Eight Trigrams and Taijiquan          

Embrace the One - Zhan Zhuang - Standing Like A Tree

Emptiness in Full Bloom    

Entering Tranquility (Ru Jing) Meditation      

Exercise - Diabetes Therapy - Taijiquan and Qigong   

Feedback, Kudos and Reviews for the Cloud Hand's Website     

Fitness and Well Being    

Fitness for Older Persons     

Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi): Tiger, Bear, Crane, Deer, and Monkey

Five Precepts of Buddhism     

Five Elements (Wu-Xing) and Taijiquan   

Five Stepping Movements of Taijiquan    


Flowers in the Sky     

Gardening: Quotes, Poems, History, Sayings

The Four Gates: Grasping the Sparrow's Tail    

Michael P. Garofalo's Biography

Michael P. Garofalo's T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Practice    

The Goddess - Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Prayers, Songs    

Grasping the Sparrow's Tail

Green Way Research

Green Way Research - Taijiquan and Qigong        

Gu Shen Taijiquan Journal     

Gu Shen (Valley Spirit) Taijiquan Instructional Program

Haiku and Short Poems     

Hatha Yoga

Health and Fitness - T'ai Chi Ch'uan    

Hidden Tiger, Beginning Program, Level 2, Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Instructional Program, Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan    

Kriya Yoga    

Kundalini (Coiled Serpent) Energy

Kwang Ping Taijiquan of Kuo Lien Ying     

Links and Bibliography: Qigong    

Links and Bibliography: Taijiquan       

Long Form 108 Yang Style Taijiquan     

Master Chang San-Feng  (circa 1350)       

Master Cheng Man-Ch'ing  (1901 - 1975)    

Master Han Shan  (circa 750)    

Master Kuo Lien Ying     

Master Sun Lu-Tang   

Meditation - General

Meditation and Breathing

Meditation and Walking    

Meditation Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo in Red Bluff, California        

Meditation Methods and Techniques  

Meditation Quotations    

Meditation - Standing Like A Tree  

Meditation - Wu Ji - The Edge of Emptiness  

Michael P. Garofalo's T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Practice    

Minding the Breath

Months of the Year: Quotes, Poems, Links     

Moving Hands Like Clouds:  T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong    

Northern California T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools, Information

Nature Mysticism   

Oak Tree in the Courtyard    

Older Persons Exercise and Well Being Programs   

Oregon T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools, Information   

Original Cloud Hands URL    

Original Waving Hands Like Clouds URL

Pranayama: Breathing Techniques from Yoga     

Push Hands - T'ui Shou   

Qigong: Bibliography and Links    

Qigong Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo in Red Bluff, California        

Qigong Walking      

Qi or Ch'i and Taijiquan     

Raja Yoga

Red Bluff, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Instructional Program

Relaxation and Taijiquan     

Reviews of the Cloud Hand's Website     

Senior Citizens Fitness Programs  

Sensing Hands: Push Hands - T'ui Shou   

Shoong, Sung, Song  - Loose, Relaxed, Open, Yielding, Responsive     

Short Form, Yang Style, Beijing Simplified 24

Silk Reeling    

Simplified 24 From, Yang Style       

Soaring Crane, Intermediate Program, Level 3, Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Soulful Gardening

Speaking to the Spirit Meditation

The Spirit of Gardening    

Staff Weapons: Jo, Bo, Can, Staff, Spear    

Standing Bear, Level 1 Ranking, Valley Spirit Taijiquan

Standing Like A Tree - Zhan Zhuang

Standing Meditation (Wu Ji)

Sticking Hands - T'ui Shou   

Strength Training    

Subject Index to the Cloud Hands Website

Sun Lu-Tang   

Sun Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan     

Swordsmanship and T'ai Chi Ch'uan     

T'ai Ch'i Classics      

Tai Chi for Arthritis

Tai Chi for Diabetes

T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Bibliography and Links     

T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools, Information, Workshops      
Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo in Red Bluff, California        

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Short Form, Beijing Simplified 24, Yang Style     

T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Links and Bibliography      

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Staff     

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword (Jian)     

Taijiquan: Bibliography and Links      

Taijiquan Classics      

Taijiquan For Good Health, Fitness and Vitality         

Taijiquan Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo in Red Bluff, California        

Taijiquan Jian (Sword)     

Tantric Yoga

Taoism, Nature Mysticism, Alchemy      

Temple Qigong     

Thirteen Postures: 8 Gates and 5 Steps                  

Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong       

The 300 Missing Poems of Han Shan      

The Tiger: The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi)    

Tiger, Hidden Tiger, Beginning Program, Level 2, Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Tree Qigong - Zhan Zhuang - Standing Like A Tree   

Trees - Quotations, Poems, Lore, Wisdom  

24 From, Yang Style, Standard       

Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan Club        

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal     

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Instructional Program

Vancouver, B.C., T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools

Vitality, Health and Qigong   

Walking - General Fitness Exercise

Walking and Taijiquan     

Walking - Quotations     

Washington T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong Directory: Instructors, Schools, Information 

Waving Hands Like Clouds:  T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong    

Wu Ji - Standing Meditation

Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form 108 Movements     

Yang Style Taijiquan Short Form 24 Movements       

Yin-Yang Sensitivity Training: Sticking Hands - T'ui Shou   


Yoga - Hatha   

Yoga - Kriya

Yoga -Tantric

Yoga-Taiji Index

Zhan Zhuang - Standing Like A Tree

Zen Poetry       

Zen Buddhist Quotations   



Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan Club

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
Cities in the area: Oroville, Paradise, Durham, Chico, Hamilton City, Orland, Willows, 
Corning, Rancho Tehama, Los Molinos, Tehama, Proberta, Gerber, Manton, Cottonwood,
Anderson, Shasta Lake, Palo Cedro, Igo, Ono, Redding, Shasta, Dunsmuir,
Shingletown, Burney, Mt. Shasta City, Weaverville, Yreka, Williams, Colusa,
Chester, Susanville, Weed, Gridley, Marysville, Yuba City, CA, California.


April 26 2004


Green Way Research   

Valley Spirit T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Cloud Hands: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Ch'i Kung