the birch outside my window
waves her leaves in the wind
celebrating her emptiness,
free of all anxiety
*buji ~ free of anxiety (no mind in work, no work in mind; that is, "unselfconscious"
Te-Shan was an eighth century Chinese Chen (Zen) Buddhist teacher and scholar of the Diamond Cutter Sutra (aphorism), known as Case #4 of the Pi-yen-lu koans (riddles). Case #4 is "Te-Shan carrying his bundle." As the story goes, the Master Te-Shan left his monastery in the north of China and headed south to challenge some teaching that he deemed incorrect. He was dedicated in both his scholarship and his tradition. On his journey, he carried with him his treasured bundle, the Commentaries on the Diamond Cutter Sutra.
Along the way he met a merchant selling rice cakes by the side of the road. She was an old woman and we all know how dangerous old women can be. The old woman asked him what scriptures he carried that were so precious to him. When he told her the Diamond Cutter Sutra, she asked, "Doesn't the sutra say 'past mind cannot be held, present mind cannot be held, future mind cannot be held? Which mind is it that the Master would wish to revive?" Her pointed questioning left him speechless.
Shamed and defeated by this uneducated old woman with her street wisdom, Te-Shan returned to his monastery. It is said that he was unable to resume his teaching and spent the next days immersed in meditation. He soon achieved enlightenment and, as a result, burned all his writing and books saying:
"To plumb the greatest depth of knowledge would be no more than a piece of hair lost in the vastness of the great Void. However important your experience of worldly things, it is nothing - it is even less than a single drop of water cast into the Void."
© 2012, poem and story adaption, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved; Illustration ~ the frontispiece piece of the Diamond Sutra "the oldest known printed book in the world" via Wikipedia and in the public domain