Hello my dear happiness nerds, welcome back!
I noticed that the less I write the more you do, so let’s try another short one today. Again, it’s a quote by a poet that really touched me. It’s the second half of the poem My Hovel by Zen master Ikkyū Sōjun.
What good are old kōans and faded traditions?
No use complaining any more, I’ll just rely on my inner treasures.
My real dwelling
Has no pillars
And no roof either
So rain cannot soak it
And wind cannot blow it down
Every day priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.
So, what do you think it means? Let me know in the comments below, I’m really curious to hear about your thoughts and feelings!
There is some jargon in the poem that I’m happy to “translate,” so you don’t have to look elsewhere. I’ll only touch the surface though to keep it short:
- Koans are riddles to test or advance students of Zen Buddhism.
- Dharma means a lot of things, among them a universal law or a right way of living.
- Sutras in the context of Buddhism are canonical texts, often attributed to be direct teachings of the Buddha.
As far as I’m concerned, especially the last four lines really did something with me. I tend to overthink and seek objective truths to live by, but the happy life is right there in front me at all times, just waiting to be recognized. It’s simple: Learn to read and appreciate the love letters of nature (and one might add: life in general) and you cannot help but to be full of peace, joy, and bliss.
Life sends us all these love letters, so we can be happy. I think once we give them the attention they deserve, we will feel an authentic urge to give back in equal amounts. This will add another healing quality to our lives. We will want to protect and foster the beauty of nature, which includes all living and non-living beings. It just won’t be an option anymore to exploit or harm them.
I hope these words by Ikkyū touched you as much as they touched me. They served as another nudge that makes me want to explore Zen Buddhism more. If you’re looking for more great poetry like this, I also recommend the haikus by Kobayashi Issa. And with this, I wish you a beautiful day with a love letter coming your way. Yours truly, Thomas.
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