Response by Ryokan…

Ryokan, the hermit monk and poet and Zen Master, often treated as a wandering fool by villagers as he passed through one, was lonely all his life.

That didn’t preclude him becoming a Master of Buddhism and one of the most respected figures in the history of Japanese Zen. His calligraphic poetry is considered a national cultural treasure, and he was not a trained calligrapher. He spoke and wrote from a heart that was deeply entwined with his mind which he trained assiduously under all conditions.

Loneliness and vague longing were present in much of his writing. Yet, it was not despair. It was seeing clearly with a full heart. That is Compassion.

At a small gathering once, someone recited a poem for him.

It went like this:

“The breath goes out, the breath coming in

Over and then over again

Only leaves me to reflect

What a fleeting world this is.”

To which the Master replied:

“The breath going out, the breath coming in

Over and then over again

Know that this is itself the proof

That the world never ends.”

To be in the position of ease within is no small thing, and that was what informed Ryokans writing;

Yes, ease can hold the sorrows and

Rregrets of the world the way a

Blade of grass can hold a drop of

Dew long enough for it to fall from the

Blade, or dry in the sun. Sufficiency and

An adequacy that appears to be

Contentment, if anyone is

Looking and seeing

That, which Is.

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