There was an old woman who supported a hermit. For twenty years she always had a girl, sixteen or seventeen years old, take the hermit his food and wait on him.
One day she told the girl to give the monk a close hug and ask, “What do you feel just now?”
The hermit responded,
An old tree on a cold cliff;
Midwinter – no warmth.
The girl went back and told this to the old woman. The woman said, “For twenty years I’ve supported this vulgar good-for-nothing!” So saying, she threw the monk out and burned down the hermitage.
Taking a little food, a light walking stick,
I wander up to my home in quiet mystery,
the path along streams winding far away
onto ridgetops, no need of this wonder at
slow waters silent in their frozen beauty
and bamboos glistening at heart with frost;
cascades scattering a confusion of spray
and broad forests crowding distant cliffs.
Thinking it’s moonrise I see in the west
and sunset I’m watching blaze in the east,
I hike on until dark, then linger out night
sheltered away in deep expanses of shadow.
Immune to high importance: that’s renown.
Walk humbly and it’s all promise of beauty,
for in quiet mystery the way runs smooth,
ascending remote heights beyond compare.
Utter tranquility, the distinction between
yes this and no that lost, I embrace primal
unity, thought and silence woven together,
that deep healing where we venture forth.