Right to the core ~ Ryokan

The ancient Buddhas taught the Dharma
Not for its own sake but to assist us.
If we really knew ourselves
We would not have to rely on old teachers.

The wise go right to the core
And leap beyond appearances;
The foolish cleave to details
And get ensnared by words and letters.

Such people envy the accomplishments of others
And work feverishly to attain the same things.
Cling to truth and it becomes falsehood;
Understand falsehood and it becomes truth.

Truth and falsehood are two sides of a coin:
Neither accept nor reject either one.
Don’t waste your precious time fruitlessly
Trying to gauge the depths of life’s ups and downs.


from the book Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan

translated by John Stevens

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