Poems of Separation from One Hundred Poems of the Dharma Gate
Translated by Patrick Donnelly and Stephen D. Miller
Abandoning one’s father, arriving in a strange land far away
for my father’s
jeweled palace —
shall I sleep
in this hut
on the dirt?
AS THE DAI TEACHES, the foolish child forsook the king his father, and longing from afar wandered through other lands. I liken the king to the Thus Come One, and the foolish child to the two vehicles. That far away cloud-palace, how poignant to consider, like the person who hauled in the fishing nets, grieving and regretting.
I have no one but you — why do you cast me aside and flee?
if you forsake me —
throwing yourself into
the eight-fold salty roads —
will I sink alone
into the waves of old age?
THIS PASSAGE TELLS OF THE ELDER JIDŌNYO, who tried to enter the sea for the purpose of taking a treasure. But he stopped himself, regretting that he’d be separated from his mother, and spoke these words. This verse says that, because there are many in this world who understand “the evening feelings of the crane,” this was likely an occasion for tears.
You died here, but I wonder in which world you were born
leaving me lost
in the dark
with no guide
— where will the moon
again come clear?
WHEN THE GREAT TEACHER of Tendai died, these are the words the disciple called Chirō spoke; this is the question he asked.