Song Of The Grass Roof Hermitage
I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.
The person in the hut lives here calmly,
Not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.
Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?
Perishable or not, the original master is present,
not dwelling south or north, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines —
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.
Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?z
Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
Bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.
Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.
–By Shitou Xiqian
Today’s drawing was inspired by a poem I’ve been studying, “Song Of The Grass Roof Hermitage.” It was written by a Zen Buddhist Monk in the 700s. It’s resonating with me because I like the idea of letting go of all of the “stuff” that is accumulated and enjoying the present moment without the extra baggage. This is something I’ve been working on. There is something I also like about the line “Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.” I am still not sure why it resonates for me…I think it makes me think about how we as individuals create our “houses” – as in we create our small worlds, our small selves, etc. Yet within our small self is the entire universe.
I am still in a drawing slump. This one started out by practicing lines with a pencil – an exercise from a the book Pencil Sketching by Thomas C. Wang. But as I was drawing the lines I was inspired to draw the roof of the grass hut in the poem and then it all went from there. So I guess the lesson here is just show up – draw lines on a piece of paper and maybe something will happen.