November 16, 2015

Today, I dropped off a book on Buddhism in our local Little Free Library. I’m tired and in a simple mood.

I had given a lecture today at California State University San Bernardino, a town over 60 miles away from where we live in Los Angeles. The subject was Zen Buddhism, dry landscape gardens and the California drought. Much of the talk was about simplicity and spontaneity in Zen aesthetics and Japanese culture.

One of the gardens I talked about was the 14th century rock garden at the Saihoji Temple in Kyoto. Designed by Muso Soseki (1275-1351), also known as Muso Kokushi, the garden resembled a waterfall rushing down the side of a hill, even though it was only made of large chunks of skillfully arranged granite. Muso was a renowned Zen monk, and as well as being a garden designer, he was also a poet. Rather than trying to force out more words myself, I want to share his words tonight:

Incomparable Verse Valley

 

The sounds of the stream

Splash out the Buddha’s sermon

Don’t say that the deepest meaning

Comes only from one’s mouth

 

Day and night eighty thousand poems

Arise one after the other

And in fact not a single word

Has ever been spoken.

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