Following the Rhymes of Ziyou's Bathing

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Danzhou, Hainan sunrise-but Danzhou not so beautiful!

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Following the Rhymes of Ziyou's Bathing
Su Shi 1036-1101

A thousand brush strokes and my hair is clean,
The wind does a better job than a hot bath.
Holding one's breath unclogs the myriad pores,
And a dry bath dispels any noxious vapors.
If then one relaxes and abstains from conversation,
In tranquility one sees heaven and earth return.
Now and then I gather kindling and fresh water,
In hopes of leisurely soaking my limbs.
However, I cannot fnd anyone to build me a tub,
And how can a tiny basin do the thick?
The old chicken lies in the dust and dung,
The weary nag rolls in the mud and sand,
And then shakes its mane with a spray of saliva.
Defilement and purity, each has its particular nature,
Living in the moment, I bathe in whatever way I can.
Cloud-mother gems are as transparent as Sichuan silk,
And Chi bamboo is as glossy as painted glass.
Sometimes one can come to realization in dreams,
And thus gradually the unripe can become mature.
The Suramgama Sutra lies at the foot of my bed,
Often I sit up to read its marvelous words.
Reversing the stream, return to the luminous Buddha-nature,
And renounce that which I once looked forward to.
I still do not understand the Chan of Yangshan,
But I know a little about the predictions of Jizhu.
A serene mind will be achieved naturally,
By nourishing it rather that strictly overseeing it.
Cì Yùn Zǐyóu Yù Bà
Sū Shì 1036-1101

Lǐ fā qiān shū jìng,
Fēng xī shèng tāng mù.
Bì xī wàn qiào tōng,
Wù sàn míng gàn yù.
Tuírán yǔ mò sàng,
Jìng jiàn tiān dì fù.
Shí lìng jù xīn shuǐ,
Màn yù zhuó yāo fù.
Táojiàng bù kě qiú,
Pén hú hé yóu zú.
Lǎo jī wò fèn tǔ,
Zhèn yǔ shuāng míng mù.
Juàn mǎ zhàn fēng shā,
Fèn liè yí pèn yù.
Gòu jìng gè shū xìng,
Kuài qiè liáo zì wò.
Yúnmǔ tòu shǔ shā,
Liúlí yíng qí zhú.
Shāo néng mèng zhōng jué,
Jiàn shǐ shēng chǔ shú.
《Lèngyán》zài chuáng tóu,
Miàojì shí yǎng dú.
Fǎnliú guī zhào xìng,
Dú lì yí suǒ zhú.
Wèi zhī Yǎngshān chán,
Yǐ jiù Jìzhǔ bo.
Ānxīn huì zì dé,
Zhù zhǎng wú xiāng dū.
Translator: Beata Grant

In Danzhou, Hainan, Su lived at first in a leaky magistrate's
compound but later was ordered to leave. He built himself a
small house south of the city and spent the next few years
familiarizing himself with the language, diet, and customs
of the local Li tribespeople. Despite the inevitable
longliness and hardships, it seems his natural optimism and
his practice of Buddist-Taoist breathing and meditation
exercises helped him attain a degree of contentment.
In a letter to a friend he writes,

"When I was young, I longed to run away into the
mountain forests. However, my father and brothers would not
allow it and instead forced me to marry. So it is that I
have been tossed to and fro ever since. Since being
banished to the south, I have to able to arrange the
affairs of my life; there is no longer anything that
worries me. My life can be compared, in a general way, to
that of an itinerant monk."

Here the process of self-invention results from the
necessity of adapting to the hostile environment. There is
not the slightest evidence that Su's family forced him to
marry against his willl, but the self-image of an itinerant
monk was one he found appealing. In a letter to his friend
Cai Liao, he also compares his new life-style, in cramped
quarters and with nothing but coarse food to eat, to that
of the lowliest of monks in a temple compound. If there is
a touch of self-pity here, there is also a note of truth.

Su's Hainan writings, although they may not number among
his greatest, do attest to a certain serenity of mind and
acceptance of the impermanent nature of life. In the above
poem he describes how, in the abesence of water for
bathing, he indulged in a "dry bath", a Taoist practice of
breathing and massage.

From Beata Grant's Mount Lu Revised, Buddhism in the Life and Writings of Su Shih, University of Hawaii Press/Honolulu.

Finding: SSSC 7: 2302-2303

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