Sending off Chan Master Xiaoben to Fayun

About us
Contact us


Slideshow  Google Map  Timeline  Timemap  Graphic Mode  Comments (0)




Sending off Chan Master Xiaoben to Fayun
Su Shi 1036-1101

As long as one dwells beneath this heavenly roof,
No matter where one goes there will be dues to pay.
Even if one lives peacefully with no business affairs,
How can one pass one's life without trouble of some kind!
In mountain groves too there is worry and pain--
Even official robes and carriages are part of the play.
I have not yet been able to retire to the quiet life,
But you, Master, should be living in a peaceful seclusion!
The Imperial City is full of brilliant scholars,
Discussing, debating, distinguishing black from white.
Asked to name the first principle of Divine Truth,
Bodhidharma faced the emperor and said:"Who knows?"
Master, what business brings you to this place,
Like a solitary moon suspended in the empty blue?
When was this self that is like a floating cloud,
Ever limited by the boundaries of north and south?
If one leaves one's mountain having achieved no-mind,
Then when it rains, one will still be able to find refuge.
Long ago I made a promise to you by the Pearl Stream,
When will I return there to hang up my flask and staff?
Sòng Xiǎoběn Chánshī fù Fǎyún
Sù Shì 1036-1101

Yù xíng tiān dì jiān,
Chū chǔ huì yǒu yì.
Tánrán dōu wú yíng,
Bǎi nián hé yóu bì.
Shānlín děng yōu huàn,
Xuān miǎn yì xìjù.
Wǒ wèi jí guī xiū,
Shī níng biàn ānyì.
Wángchéng mǎn háojié,
Yìlùn fēn hēi bái.
Shèngdì dìyī yì,
Duìmiàn shuí bù shí.
Shī lái yì hé shì,
Gū yuè guà kōng bì.
Shì shēn rú fú yún,
Āndé xiàn nán běi.
Chū xiù běn wú xīn,
Jì yǔ guī yì dé.
Zhū quán yǒu jiù yuē,
Hé nián guà píng xī.
Translator: Beata Grant

"During his second visit in Hangzhou, Su acquainted Fayun Shanben (1035-1109), who was known familiarly as Xiaoben, "Little Ben", to differentiate him from a fellow monk also named Ben. Shanben was a Yunmen Chan monk, a disciple of Huilin Zongben (1020-1099). Huilin Zongben was serving as the head of the Jingci temple in Hangzhou when, in 1082, he was asked by Emperor Zhezong to head the Huilin Chan temple in the capital of Kaifeng. He contributed greatly to the spread of Yumen Chan. It is said that when the emperor invited him to court, Huilin Zongben very nonchalantly seated himself in the lotus position, and when his tea arrived, he picked it up and drank it whith the utmost informality and ease, despite the glares of the attendant officials. In time, he asked to return to Hangzhou, relinguishing his position in the capital to Fayun Shanben. Shanben came from a family of scholar-officials (descended from the famous Han dynasty official Dong Zhongshu) and had passed the jinshi examination before deciding, in 1063, to become a monk. During his time in the capital he became known for his understanding of the Avatamsaka Sutra. He was then invited by Master Yuanzhao of Hangzhou to help him reveive the many lay guests, mostly scholars and officials, who came to visit his temple. Just about the time Su arrived in Hangzhou, Shanben was given the name Chan Master Datong and recalled to the capital to take charge of the Fayunsi, a new Chan monastery built by the royal family. Understandably, the monk was at first quite reluctant to go, although he finally gave in to royal pressure. In a poem Su wrote to send Shanben off, he empathizes with a monk who still has many duties to keep him occupied even after he has "left" the world--a situation that was increasingly common in the growing monastic bureaucracies of the Northern Song. The poet is no doubt projecting somewhat and perhaps even rationalizing his own continuing attachment to the world--if a monk cannot escape from all this, how can he be expected to do so?"--Beata Grant, adapted

Finding: SSSC 6: 1757

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

Related Items:
Hángzhōu 杭州
Shānxī 山 西
Zhèjiāng 浙江