Photo: Venerable Master Xu Yun (aka Empty Cloud). Master Xu Yun (1840 – 1959) was a renowned Chinese Chan master and one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although he was a Chinese Buddhist, he traveled over to Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as Tibet and taught his teachings there. He was well received in Southeast Asian countries and drew a considerable number of followers. When the Chinese communist government established the Chinese Buddhist Association in 1953 in order to centralize all Buddhist communities, Xu Yun was elected as one of four honorary chairmen together with Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, and the Grand Lama of Inner Mongolia. Xu Yun was one of a small number of contemporary Chinese Buddhists who made significant contribution to the development of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Although he was less known in the West, he was considered as one of the greatest Buddhist teachers and a bodhisattva in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Myanmar. As with other religious teachings, truth in his Buddhist teachings contributed to the spiritual awakening of people beyond social, racial, political, and cultural differences.
I've got a little picture in my mind of a clean and quiet place.
Everywhere you look it's completely natural.
The house is made of plaited rushes.
There's a good half-acre for growing tubers and flowers.
Beautiful birds perch on cliffs
That encase a few clouds that hang around green peaks.
The world's red dust won't be able to get up here.
Simple elegance is better than saintliness or spirituality.
Can joy be found in the mountains?
Let me tell you. There's more joy in the mountains
Than anywhere else.
Pines and bamboos perform sacred chants.
The songs of Sheng flutes are played by birds.
In the trees, monkeys climb for fruit.
In the ponds, ducks cavort with lotus lilies.
This escape from the ordinary world
Month by month and year by year
Eliminates the hindrances to Enlightenment.
Don't try to stand tall in the courtyards of fame.
In the mountains such dreams fade away.
Your body stands on its own when it's up with the clouds.
Your heart pulls away from worldly attachments.
The moon that I love clears a path through the pines
And guides a stream right to the bamboo gate.
Naturally, this is nothing short of amazing.
How could you disparage it... or ever tire of the sight?
In the mountains there's nothing at all which prohibits
Dreams of cooking millet during afternoon naps.
If you're lazy by nature, you won't brood about problems.
You'll make light of the body and won't fear the cold.
Chrysanthemums grow by the three ancient paths.
A few planted plum trees make the whole yard fragrant.
Engagements are blessedly short.
Leisure is blessedly long.
Just wake up from an afternoon nap in a grass hut.
Drag a walking stick and let it bounce free and easy.
Lean on a rock and watch the clouds rise.
Listen to the pine saplings and hear the sound of waves.
When the forest is dense, no guests pass by.
When the roads are dangerous, they're only used for gathering firewood.
The place is so pristine and cool
How could it fail to quench my mind's furnace of cares?
People complain of a hard life in the mountains.
I don't think it's much different from the hardships of anywhere else.
A clay oven burning birch twigs,
A stone cauldron boiling wild sprouts.
It seems that you've only just picked the chrysanthemums
That grow in the three months of autumn
When it's time to view the flowers of March.
Pity more the moon that night after night
Is forced to entertain society.
( Venerable Master Xu Yun aka Empty Cloud)
'Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Volume 1'
By Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk) (Author)
CH'AN AND ZEN TEACHING, VOLUME 1 contains the practice as taught by the late Ch'an Master, the Venerable Hsu Yun. This practice elaborates upon the technique known as Hua t'ou, a secret technique taught only in Japanese zendos.
Charles Luk (Lu K'uan Yu) was a Buddhist scholar. He translated many important Buddhist texts from Chinese into English.