A Fisherman

by Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun)

English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

-- from Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu, Translated by John Stevens

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I like Ikkyu's gentle mocking here.

The deeply committed spiritual path can so often become all consuming -- scholarship, meditation and other practices -- that we either become attached to the path, or engrossed in our own efforts, and in the midst of it all we forget our true goal... what is sometimes called in the Zen tradition, Original Mind.

In true Zen style, Ikkyu cuts through all impediments, even those within his own spiritual tradition, in order to bring us back to the realization that our goal is immediate, right here, and utterly simple. It is not hidden behind arcane texts. It is not attained through uninspired, dogged effort.

When we have readied ourselves, it is simply there. Sometimes all we need is the simplest reminder of fundamental truth -- a solitary fisherman singing his timeless chant on the river at night.



Recommended Books: Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun)

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) Crow With No Mouth: Fifteenth Century Zen Master Ikkyu Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology: A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan





A Fisherman