Zen Monk Ryokan

Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚?) (1758–1831) was a quiet and eccentric Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk who lived much of his life as a hermit.Ryōkan is remembered for his poetry and calligraphy, which present the essence of Zen life


I’m a fool, it’s a fact,
Living with the trees and plants as I do.
Don’t ask me about illusion and nirvana,
For here is an old man who just likes to smile to himself
As he crosses over streams on scrawny legs,
And when he carries around his bag in the springtime.
Such is my life,
And the world has no claims on me.


My house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest
Every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
Undisturbed by the affairs of the world I live at ease,
Woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
While the sun stays in the sky, I mend my torn clothes
And facing the moon, I read holy texts aloud to myself.
Let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

- Ryokan

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don't know others,
Others don't know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature's course. 

A robber came once and tried to steal from him, but finding nothing, he sneaked away. Ryokan ran after him and gave him the clothes off his back. When he went back to his hut, he said he was sorry he could not have given the thief the moonlight and he wrote this...

The thief left it behind:

the moon

at my window.

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    1. 1211891485?profile=RESIZE_710x
    • Nice to be reminded of Ryokan' this morning, and nice to see yerself, stranger :)

      • I've had a very, VERY full plate this last year, but I'll be checking in more often.

  • 1213211542?profile=RESIZE_710x

  • If there is beauty, there must be ugliness; 
    If it is right, it must be wrong. 
    Wisdom and ignorance complement each other, 
    And illusion and enlightenment can not be separated. 
    This is an old truth, do not think that it has been discovered recently. 
    'I want this, I want that' 
    Is nothing but folly. 
    I'll tell you a secret - 
    'All things are unstable!' "

    From: "One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan"

  • “Too lazy to be ambitious,
    I let the world take care of itself.
    Ten days' worth of rice in my bag;
    a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
    Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
    Listening to the night rain on my roof,
    I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.”


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