general announcements

From March 21st to April 5th, I won’t be posting here. The training and precepts’ platform for full ordination takes place at the end of this month and so I’ll be gone for about a week for that, and leading up to the training I have several editing and translating jobs that require time and focus.

…But, when posting here again, it will hopefully be as a new bhikkuni! (I passed the exam at the beginning of the month, and the training, which is mostly a formality, is all that is left in the process before the ceremony.)


cold mountain (33)


here are the sons of elders
not a one has any pants

It’s the old Taoist story: old sage on the mountain is sipping tea naked, visitors to his hut are shocked, get on his case about it, Why are you naked blah blah blah, he answers, All of the universe is my home, this small hut is my pants, what are you doing in my pants, everyone walks away edified, modern listeners chuckle, find some way to work above story into an anecdote over cocktails or even, depending on levels of pretension, an excuse for their own moral or conventional lassitudes.

Let me tell you: Almost no one gets away with walking around naked in the locales where this story is most popular. I’m not arguing the transcendental point of the story or even the poem. But the world applauds in fiction what it won’t tolerate in fact. That the reverse is also true is simply the way things are.


The above two lines, which are the last two in the Chinese poem, are not Red Pine’s translation. But, as always, the original Chinese and (Red Pine’s) English are pp. 58-59, here.

cold mountain (32)


who can get past the tangles of the world

Up at midnight, the lines of the text in front of me unspooling like ribbon from the bobbin. Awake before dawn, thoughts unraveling like a raw edge of fabric. Trying to serge up the day and the mind with it: the weather is gray on gray, and the clouds turning and folding back on themselves like dough invite all idle thoughts to poke their fingers in. Sinking. A cup of coffee after lunch puts an edge back on, makes neat the seams of work and thought; but the coming evening and the silent fall of an unidentified bird from the bamboo down past my window to an unknown landing draws all speculation and curiosity out again. Somewhere on a ridge a tailor sits, measure and scissors and needle in a basket by his side, idle without lassitude. I’ll go visit him sometime, when I get things together enough down here for the trip. I’ll ask him not for neat seams or even a pair of pants that fit: I’ll ask for sails, and the little boat he left moored at the crossing, and for the compass of a word. And then I’ll go.


Chinese and English pp. 56-57 here.