Shiwu (Stonehouse)
China (1272 - 1352) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Poems by Shiwu (Stonehouse)
Books - Links

Shiwu, whose name translates as "Stonehouse," was a Chan (Zen) monk, hermit, and poet in China during the Yuan Dynasty.

Unlike several other Buddhist poets of the era, Shiwu was a formal monk, well-educated in Buddhist dharma, meditation, and monastic tradition. He studied first in Yushan's Hsingfu Temple, where he received the dharma name Ch'ing-hung.

He traveled and learned from several masters before he arrived at Chienyang to study with a teacher named Chi-an. Chi-an dismissed the koan Shiwu was previously meditating on, and gave him a new one: "Where Buddhas reside, don't stop. Where Buddhas don't reside, rush past." Frustrated by his new koan for some time, Shiwu had a flash of insight one day, and answered his teacher with, "When the rain stops at the end of spring, the oriole appears on a branch."

Shiwu helped his teacher Chi-an in his role as abbot of Taochang temple. Shiwu himself later acted as a meditation teacher for some time at Lingyin Timple.

Eventually, Shiwu took up the life of a hermit, removing himself to the Zhongnan Mountains. There he composed his 184 Shan-shih or "Mountain Poems." His Mountain Poems are quiet observations of details from his humble mountain life. They are specific, even mundane, yet they hint at the meditator's still and open awareness. His poems and observations of his life of quiet retirement have long been appreciated by monks, hermits, and meditators.

Poems by Shiwu (Stonehouse)

Recommended Books: Shiwu (Stonehouse)

The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th Century Chinese Hermit

Related Links

Shan-shi, the Hermit House of Stonehouse

A good article on Stonehouse and his poetry, especially focusing on his life as a hermit.

Shiwu - Wikipedia

Very short biography, touching on his various teachers. A few poem selections.

The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Mountain Poems

A good, brief blog article on Stonehouse and his poetry.

Dancing with Words - Kyoto Journal

A good interview with the translator Red Pine about Stonehouse's poetry.
Shiwu (Stonehouse)