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  • Writer's pictureKirsty Macdonald

Friday Poem - Cold Mountain by Han-Shan

China Mountain | Zen Poem - Cold Mountain by Han-Shan | Friday Poem |

This is a zen poem attributed to the hermit Han-Shan, a Chinese Buddhist who lived around the middle of the 7th century on Mount Han-shan (Cold Mountain). Before you read, take a moment to settle yourself, inhale and exhale, releasing anything you no longer need to be holding on to, and open your heart with curiosity to where these words can take you.

I came once to sit on Cold Mountain And lingered here for thirty years. Yesterday I went to see relatives and friends; Over half had gone to the Yellow Springs. Bit by bit life fades like a guttering lamp, Passes on like a river that never rests. This morning I face my lonely shadow And before I know it tears stream down.

Today I sat before the cliff, Sat a long time till mists had cleared. A single thread, the clear stream runs cold; A thousand yards the green peaks lift their heads. White clouds—the morning light is still; Moonrise—the lamp of night drifts upward; Body free from dust and stain, What cares could trouble my mind?

The clear water sparkles like crystal, You can see through it easily, right to the bottom. My mind is free from every thought, Nothing in the myriad realms can move it. Since it cannot be wantonly roused, Forever and forever it will stay unchanged. When you have learned to know in this way You will know there is no inside or out!

Cold Mountain by Han-Shan


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