in the willow world
praying, they sway, their tears fall
walking a narrow road
outcasts these orchids must go
drifting on the ancient sea
of rain and clouds
renewing their lifeless vows
with the setting sun
these wilted flowers are cast-off
at dawn with moon-set
as white froth beats on the shore
go on as all travellers go
in the warmth of the Saviour
follow then the middle road
© G.s.k. ‘15
* Wu-Wei – in Taoism (which Zen incorporates) this is cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly aligned with the flow of life. It is also often translated as “the middle road” by some.
Carpe Diem #883 journey through the rough north of Honshu: a rough sea; in one house
Exhausted by the labor of crossing many dangerous places by the sea with such horrible names as Children-desert-parents or Parents-desert-children, Dog-denying or Horse-repelling, I went to bed early when I reached the barrier-gate of Ichiburi. The voices of two young women whispering in the next room, however, came creeping into my ears. They were talking to an elderly man, and I gathered from their whispers that they were concubines from Niigata in the province of Echigo, and that the old man, having accompanied them on their way to the IseShrine, was going home the next day with their messages to their relatives and friends.
I sympathized with them, for as they said themselves among their whispers, their life was such that they had to drift along even as the white froth of waters that beat on the shore, and having been forced to find a new companion each night, they had to renew their pledge of love at every turn, thus proving each time the fatal sinfulness of their nature. I listened to their whispers till fatigue lulled me to sleep. When, on the following morning, I stepped into the road, I met these women again. They approached me and said with some tears in their eyes, ‘We are forlorn travelers, complete strangers on this road. Will you be kind enough at least to let us follow you? If you are a priest as your black robe tells us, have mercy on us and help us to learn the great love of our Savior.’ ‘I am greatly touched by your words,’ I said in reply after a moment’s thought, ‘but we have so many places to stop at on the way that we cannot help you. Go as other travelers go. If you have trust in the Savior, you will never lack His divine protection.’ As I stepped away from them, however, my heart was filled with persisting pity.
in the same house
prostitutes, too, slept:
bush clover and moon
© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)