ON ZEN

by Daiō Kokushi

 

There is a reality                                                                     

 even prior to heaven and earth.

 

It doesn’t even have a form,

 much less a name.

 

Eyes fail to see it; it has

 no voice for ears to pick up.

 

To call it Mind or Buddha

 violates its nature,

 

Because then it becomes like

 a flowery vision in the air;

 

It is neither Mind nor Buddha;

 

Absolutely quiet, and yet

 illuminating in a mysterious way,

 

It lets itself be perceived

 only by the clear-eyed.

 

It is Dharma truly beyond

 form and sound;

 

It is Tao having nothing

 to do with words.

 

Wishing to entice the blind,


The Buddha has playfully
 let words escape
 his golden mouth;

 

Heaven and earth have been filled

 with entangling briars ever since.

 

O my good worthy friends

 gathered here,

 

If you want to listen

 to the thundering voice of the Dharma,

 

Exhaust your words,

 empty your thoughts—

For then you may come

 to recognize this One Essence.

 

      —translated by D.T. Suzuki