Shambhala Sun | May 2014
About a Poem: Pat Enko O'Hara on an Anonymous Poem by a Sung Dynasty Nun
spring all day, I never saw it,
among the clouds,
along the bank.
Coming home, I
spring at each
branch tip, already perfect.
Everybody is looking for something. The writer of this poem, a Sung
Dynasty nun, is seeking “spring.” How do you seek spring? How do you seek
happiness? Or enlightenment?
Well, seeking requires going somewhere or doing something in order to
find. And yet, it is that which seeks that is what is sought. With this nun, we
traverse a mountain path, hear the creaking of straw sandals, find ourselves
among clouds and at a riverbank. Trailing her, we feel the grit of our own
longing, our desires for more.
Then she catches the scent of plum blossoms and laughs. It’s as if,
suddenly coming to her senses, she realizes what’s been there all along. How
could she have missed it? There is “spring at each branch tip, already
We can experience the scents, sights, and sounds of spring only in this
moment. Spring or awakening can only be experienced when we drop our idea of
it. When we come home to its reality in our daily life, then the gnawing of “I want” becomes the joy of “I am.”
Pat Enkyo O’Hara
is the abbot of the Village Zendo and the author of Most Intimate: A
Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges.
translation by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton from The Poetry of Zen.