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

Poems by Shiwu (Stonehouse)
Books - Links

Shiwu, whose name translates as "Stonehouse," was a 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 later went to the Tienmu Mountains to study Chan with Kao-Feng. During his time with Kao-feng, he was given the koan "All things return to one" to contemplate.

Shiwu then went to Chienyang to study with the master Chi-an. Chi-an dismissed the koan he was studying, 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, he 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 specific details of 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 the life of quiet retirement have long been read 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)