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Sunday, September 15, 2002

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  • Gloria Lee
    * * * * SOUND OF MOUNTAIN WATER - Princess Shikishi (ca. 1150-1201) As I grow used to the moss mat and rock pillow, the sound of mountain water cleanses my
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2002


      SOUND OF MOUNTAIN WATER - Princess Shikishi (ca. 1150-1201)

        As I grow used to
        the moss mat
        and rock pillow,
        the sound of mountain water
        cleanses my heart.
      #1198 - Sunday, September 15, 2002  
      Editor: Gloria Lee
      Illustration (top): Ritual hand-washing basin and dipper from a Kyoto
      Garden, adapted from the CD-ROM, KYOTO GARDENS: A
      LUNAFLORA, 1996. See also:
      The few selections given here are but a small sample of the wealth of this webring, with
      all writings by or about women. This is a fabulous resource, more than one can read
      in a day, still have not come to the end of it. Han Shan, Ikkyu and Dogen are men.
      Women's Early Eastern Spirituality
      Now arranged as a garland, these articles were originally part of a page
      called Early Women Masters in Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto & Zen. (For
      Western spirituality, see also
      Celebration of the Feminine Divine.)
      Each article links to the next -- a link is provided also to return here to
      the index.

      All night I could not sleep
      because of the moonlight on my bed.
      I kept on hearing a voice calling:
      Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered "yes."

      Zi Ye (6th -3rd century B.C.E.) China

      INTRODUCTION from "The Burning Heart: Women Poets of Japan"  (edited
      by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi, Seabury Press, NY,  1977) 

      "The Man'yoshu (The Collection of 10,000 Leaves) was compiled in  the later
      half of the 8th century, Japan. A little more than one-third of  the (named)
      Man'yoshu poets can be recognized as women ... The  script known as
      Manyigama was probably employed largely as a  mnemonic device and the
      poems were transmitted orally, usually sung  or chanted as they still are to this
      day...with 4,516 poems in all.... 

      "The remarkable thing about the Man'yoshu is its extraordinary  democracy.
      There are poems by emperors and empresses, princes and  princesses, generals
      and lonely common soldiers on the then narrow  frontiers of Japan, beggars,
      monks, and courtesans. A whole section  was devoted to "Eastland Poems,"
      probably in a different dialect from  an area which was in those days the
      Eastern border of Imperial Japan  and is still relatively backward country... 

      ("From the Country of Eight Islands," ed. Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson, 1981)

      "Enough!" I say,
      but Shii will force
      her stories on me.
      Lately, though, not hearing them,
      I miss them.

      * * *
      Princess Sotori (also called Sotoshi) (5th c.) 
      "Little bamboo crab" is a spider. Chinese as well as
      Japanese folklore found  happy omens in the activity
      of spiders, which were thought especially to  predict
      the arrival of a guest. 

      Tonight is the night
      My young love will come to me:
      Little bamboo crab
      Spider's antics make it clear.
      Oh, very clear tonight.

      * * *


      Kuan Yin's earthly name is Miao Shan (Wondrously Kind One): the following
      story of how it was that Miao Shan came to be the Bodhisattva of Compassion
      is recounted in John Blofeld's "Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical
      Tradition of Kuan Yin" (Boston: Shambala Publications, 1977). 

      Nagara Bridge
      Lady Ise

      I hear they are rebuilding
      Nagara Bridge in Naniwa.
      What is left
      For me now
      To compare myself to?


      Thread of Pearls
      Lady Ise

      Hanging from the branches of a green
      Willow tree,
      The spring rain
      Is a
      Thread of pearls.

      Some of the most delightful poems written by early Japanese women center on
      natural idiophonics, that is, natural sounds heard and appreciated as
      aesthetically meaningful. In addition, poems were sometimes composed in the
      context of a traditional sound which may not be mentioned directly. This website
      has collected women's poems referring to natural sounds and grouped them by seasons. 
      POUNDING CLOTH - Kaji (b. late 1600's)
      In Kaji's day cloth was pounded to clean it and
      make it shiny as though it were wet and washed.

        As night is fading,
        I stay awake with the sounds of
        a humble woman
        pounding and fulling her cloth --
        sojourn at a grasslands inn.


        SOUNDS MERGE - Chiyo-ni (1703-1775)

          Sounds merge
          the rain quiets
          the pounding of cloth.

        As for me, I delight in the everyday Way,
        Among mist-wrapped vines and rocky caves.
        Here in the wilderness I am completely free,
        With my friends, the white clouds, idling forever.
        There are roads, but they do not reach the world;
        Since I am mindless, who can rouse my thoughts?
        On a bed of stone I sit, alone in the night,
        While the round moon climbs up Cold Mountain.
        Han Shan translated by Stephen Mitchell.


        Coming, here, gone:
        Flowers in the Sky.
        In the blink of one false eye,
        In the blink of One True Eye,
        Flowers in the empty sky;
        Shimmering, scented ... gone,
        Gone, gone, gone far beyond
        Their seeds of arising.
        But, staying, Here-Now,
        A Great Marvel of Manifestation.
        Bodhisvattas - for the bees.
        Soil, sun, rain, sky ...
        Four Elements embracing,
        Intertwined in mind.
        Unfathomable Matrix;
        Scaffolds on scaffolds
        Grounded in Otherness.
        Below seeds, flowers, leaves,
        stems, roots ...
        Below wet cells embraced,
        Below atoms dancing on Energy ...
        Deeper and deeper below into
        What? A Plenitude, sacredness.
        Emptiness in full bloom.
        Above seeds, flowers, leaves,
        stems, roots ...
        Above water, soil, air, sunlight ...
        Above sensing, feeling, working, thinking ...
        Higher and higher out towards
        What? "Vast emptiness, nothing holy."
        Flowers in the sky.
        ~ Dogen by Michael Garofalo


        It is nice to get a glimpse of a lady bathing --
        You scrubbed your flower face and cleansed your lovely body
        While this old monk sat in the hot water,
        Feeling more blessed than even the emperor of China!


        The Woman Crookback & the Way of the Sage


        "The Woman Crookback and the Way of the Sage" is an old story, or
        parable, from an ancient Chinese text called the CHUANG TZU. The
        Chuang Tzu was compiled in the Tan Dynasty (202 B.C.E. - 220 A.D),
        and is considered to be the second most important Taoist classic after
        the TAO TE CHING. Many of the stories in this collection focus on the
        adventures of Master Chuang, or "Chuang Tzu," however a number of
        other Taoists teachers are mentioned, and one of them is mysteriously
        named "the Woman Crookback." The illustration here (from ASIAN
        ARTS) of an old rabbit turning around to view the moon represents the
        "return," or "realization," of one's original nature. In Taoism this is
        called "return to the primal self." 
        arranged from the translation by Burton Watson, "Chuang Tzu/Basic
        Writings" (NY: Columbia University Press, 1964). 

        Nan-po zu K'uei said to the Woman Crookback,
        "You are old in years and yet your complexion
        is that of a child. Why is this?"

        "I have heard of the Way!"

        "Can the Way be learned?" asked Nan-po Tzu K'uei.

        "Goodness, how could that be?
        Anyway, you aren't the man to do it.
        Now there's Pu-liang Yi --
        he has the talent of the Way but not the Way of a sage,
        whereas I have the Way but not the talent of a sage.
        I thought that I would try to teach him
        and see if I could really get anywhere near to making him a sage.
        It's easier to explain the Way of a sage
        to someone who has the talent of a sage, you know.

        "So I began explaining
        and kept at him for three days, and after that
        he was able to put the world outside himself.
        When he had put the world outside himself,
        I kept at him for seven days more, and after that
        he was able to put things outside himself.
        When he had put things outside himself,
        I kept at him for nine days more, and after that
        he was able to put life outside himself.

        "After he had put life outside himself,
        he was able to achieve the brightness of dawn,
        he could see his own aloneness,
        he could do away with past and present,
        he was able to enter where there is no life and death.

        "That which kills life does not die,
        that which gives life to life does not live.
        This is the kind of thing it is:
        there's nothing it doesn't send off,
        nothing it doesn't complete.
        Its name is Peace-in-Strife.
        After the strife, it attains completion."

        Nan-po Tzu Kuei asked,
        "Where did you happen to hear this?"

        "I heard it from the son of Aided-by-Ink,
        and Aided-by Ink heard it
        from the grandson of Repeated-Recitation,
        and the grandson of Repeated-Recitation heard it
        from Seeing-Brightly,
        and Seeing-Brightly heard it
        from Whispered-Agreement,
        and Whispered-Agreement heard it
        from Waiting-for-Use,
        and Waiting-for-Use heard it
        from Exclaimed-Wonder,
        and Exclaimed-Wonder heard it
        from Dark-Obscurity,
        and Dark-Obscurity heard it
        from Participation-in-Mystery,
        and Participation-in-Mystery heard it
        from Copy-the-Source!"





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