(pinyin: Hanshan [&] Shide | pron: [han shan] & [sh' t'] | ; jpn: Kanzan [&] Jittoku)
This story tells about a wise man who lived during Tang times. An educated man of a good family who refused to accept a job at the imperial court. A truthful man who couldn’t stand peoples' lies and pretenses which made him finally leave the “world of glory" and all his possessions behind and go to live to the mountains in solitude. Although no one knows his name, he called himself “Han shan” [Cold mountain], which is the name of the place where he found his refuge. All he wanted was to sincerely live in peace and harmony with Nature, what he had found rather impossible to do, while living among people of political power.
He rejected the world of money and glory and embraced the world of Nature instead. Living for decades on the Cold mountain in solitude, he was never alone. His company were trees, birds and other animals around him, all full of life, which he would never harm. He didn’t live completely separated from people either. His friend was an old monk called Shide [Foundling], a cook in a small nearby monastery, where Hanshan used to come once in a while to get some extra food and to talk. One day they left together and no one has ever seen them since. The only thing they left us are poems written on rocks, cave walls, cliffs, bamboos, etc. In the most of the worlds eyes, they were fools, wearing torn-apart garments, not caring what others thought about them. Their poems were later collected by Lu Jiuyin, a governor of Tai prefecture who claimed had met them in person once, just before Hanshan and Shide both left for good.
The legend of Hashan and Shide lives on even in these crazy modern times. On paintings, they are usually displayed as two funny long haired laughing caricatures. Yet their poems contain wisdom that could give a lesson to most of us even today. Perhaps a lesson about the importance of nature, peaceful life and truthfulness they cherished so much. They are an undying part of our history the same way they are an undying part of Cold mountain. Even today, if u go there, you might, from far away, hear some of their grin.
How many people of T’ian t’ai
do not know master Hanshan
not knowing the true meaning [of all things]
[they] make [only] idle speech
[I] roam idly at the flowery peak
[from] heavens shines bright moonlight
[I] look around, in the clear sky
with white clouds fly cranes
My heart is similar to autumn Moon,
a jade[-colored] pool [in a] clear bright [moon]light.
No thing can [ever] compare [or] match [that],
[so] tell me how to explain [such a phenomena].
It has been thirty years since [my] birth,
[and I’ve] already roamed ten million miles.
Went [where] the river and green grass meet,
entered the border [where] red dust lifts.
Burned medicines [in the] vain search for immortality,
read scriptures and sung history [annals].
Today [I] returned to Cold mountain,
a stream [is my] pillow, washing [away the world’s dust off my] ears.
Last night I had a dream of returning home,
saw [my] wife in the middle of weaving.
[She] stopped shuttling, as if [got lost in] thoughts,
to lift [her hand] back and forth, [she] seemed to lack strength.
[When I] called, she observed my face,
like we didn’t know each other.
No wonder, [after so] many years have passed,
[my] hair on the temples do not [have their] former color.
Once [I came to] Cold mountain to sit [and meditate],
and stayed for thirty years.
Yesterday I payed a visit to family and friends,
Most [of them] have already entered the Yellow springs.
Gradually diminishing like the rest of a candle,
far [away they] flow, similar to a passing river.
This morning I saw my true poor reflection,
[before I] realized, tears were pouring.
[I] used to frequent both writing and sword,
experienced the rule of three enlightened sages.
[Served] protecting the east, [yet got] no reward,
marched to the west with the army, [yet] no merit [came].
[Used to] study arts, [used to] study fight,
used to] study fight, [used to] study arts [again].
Today [when I am] already too old,
the remainng part [of my] life isn’t worth a word.
Human life [lasts] a hundred years,
Buddha’s words [have] twelve parts.
Compassion is like a wild deer,
angriness resembles a house dog.
House dogs [if] expelled don’t go [away],
[however] wild deers always run [away] well.
[Who] wants to hunt down [their] monkey mind,
must hear lion’s roar.
My parents left me a lot,
I wasn’t jealous of other’s fields and orchards.
Click, click, my wife’s loom [was squeaking],
my little son played in the alley.
Clapping my hands, I rushed flowers to dance,
Propped up my chin, as I heard birds singing.
Who would come to greet me [then]?
[only] chestnut gatherers always passing by.
In old times, I’ve been poor a lot,
Today I am the poorest and freezing.
[What] I do doesn’t go well,
[Where] I touch the road, it becomes desolate.
From walking in mud, my feet are frequently bent,
When I sit with others, my stomach often hurts.
However [since] I lost my striped cat,
rats are surrounding my food jar.
Intelligent men, you reject me,
Stupid men, you I reject.
[I am] neither stupid nor intelligent,
henceforth I won’t exchange words [with you].
By nightfall, I sing [for] the bright moon,
With coming dawn I dance [for] white clouds.
How could I [just] watch with hands folded and mouth still,
I sit upright and my hair on the temples is disorderly.
I chose to live in heavy mountains [where],
the road [only] birds [can manage] has no human tracks.
A garden is my only possession,
White clouds embrace quiet rocks.
I live here already about a number of years,
Again and again, I see the boom of coming spring.
My home brings talks of chimes and a metal pot,
[and absolutely] no use for empty reputation.
A person with a healthy [both] head and belly,
all the six arts managed to master.
Glances to the south, yet to the north is forced to return.
To the west [then] turns, yet to the east must go.
Always being carried away, like a floating duckweed [leaf],
breathless and similiar to a flying [piece of] wormwood.
Do you ask what other characteristics [do they have]?
By surname Wretch and name Poor is [s/he] called.
Here lives Han Shan by himself,
Already for almost ten thousand years.
leaving things to fate, hides at a forest spring,
In silence sees [the true nature of all things]*.
People don't come [here] among mountain rocks,
[yet] white clouds are always passing by.
Bends down short grass to make a bed,
Blue sky covers him as a blanket.
Lighthearted, makes a stone his pillow,
Entrusting himself to the principles of Heaven and Earth.
* 觀自在 means "to clearly see [in] freedom" and also refers to the wisdom aspect of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara(觀音菩薩) and the Heart sutra (般若心經) of Dependent origination.
If you want to reach a peaceful place,
Cold mountain can offer it for long time.
soft breeze blows into dark pines,
From close by you can feel its sweet touch.
Bellow [the pines] there is a white haired man,
mumbling over HuangPo and LaoZi's text.
For ten years he couldn't find courage to return,
Forgotten the way he had come, he already has.
indeed very old.
Lives here all alone,
isn't born, doesn't die.
Bright Moon shines,
covered in white clouds.
alone by himself sits,
one old man.
I live in the mountains,
not [engaging in] people's affairs.
Among white clouds,
always in peace.
Deep is Cold mountain,
suits my heart.
Pure white stones,
If you have poems of Hanshan at home,
you are lucky to see such a classical work.
Display them on the wall,
and read them every now and then.
To be continued...
HanShan, Shide, commentary and translation by 慧淨̄