Monday, December 06, 2004

The birds have vanished from the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

-- Wang Ch'ang-Ling (698-756)

This poem is a great description of the feeling of complete mental freedom and ego-abandonment I occasionally experience while sitting zazen. Sitting in the correct posture allows me to lose awareness of my body, and getting myself beyond thought and non-thought (very difficult for me to do, actually) allows me to abandon my ego and feel connected to life, the universe, and everything. The first two lines of this poem to me have to do with clearing out the mind, but maybe not -- the Soto school encourages practitioners to let thoughts drift in an out as the scenery of zazen. Finally, the mountain imagery is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, "only the mountain remains" suggests the abandonment of "me" or ego. Second, a person seated in zazen is like a mountain, with the knees firmly on the ground and the head pressing against the sky. Is the mountain in this poem a meditator who has abandoned his/her ego? Or is it really a mountain?

1 comment:

Ann said...

That's one of the wonderful things about poetry: the option to see layers of meaning within the text, which is composed only of words.

Words are malleable, I think, and strung together properly can say more than they...say.