han shan and she te

Translated by disciple Sramanera Kuo Tao

One day, Han Shan said the She Te, “The world slanders me, cheats me, insults me, laughs at me, slights me, degrades me, deludes me, and hates me. What can I do?”

She Te answered, “Just endure it: yield a bit, follow and elude it, tolerate and respect it. Ignore it. See what happens after a few years.”

      “How can you get anything by withdrawing like that,” said Han Shan. “What’s so special about staying out of trouble, anyway?”

      She Te answered, “Once I read Maitreya Bodhisattva’s song, now listen while I sing it for you.

The old fool in tattered robes

Fills his stomach with plain rice;

Mending rags to keep his body warm,

He lets everything trace its own course.

If scolded, he simply says 'good,'

If beaten, he falls over into sleep.

If someone spits in his face,

The old fool just lets it dry,

And saves strength and energy,

Others are not provoked.

How can he lament losing the Way since

He has acquired, this Paramita, the jewel

In the wonderful.

The man may be weak, but the mind is not;

The man may be poor, but the Way is not.

He always handles the Way

With single-minded cultivation.

Others in the world cherish glory and splendor,

But he does not wait for them,

For fame and profit always empty.

His mind is without satisfaction or disgust

Because even mountains of gold

Cannot buy off impermanence.

Despite Tze Kung's eloquence,

The Duke of Chou's divining ability

Kung Ming's wise plan,

Fan K'uei's rescuing his lord from difficulty,

And Han Hsin's superior efforts (for it was merely one sword which

brought him death),

Which of these ancients and contemporaries

Lived for a thousand years?

This one becomes a hero, that one's valor is stout,

But every year their appearances change,

Their temples turn to white.

A weave of days and months—

Time passing like arrows in flight—

Not long till the head droops

Upon the hands of illness, a dismal sigh...

They do not think themselves old.

Becoming ill they have not managed to cultivate;

If time did not impede, King Yama's turn,

They would reform, but...

Their breath's cut off and energy's exhausted.

That old fool does not discuss

And doesn't manage domestic affairs,

Or wrangle with you or me.

He does not act bravely, and

Chided, he does not speak.

Questioned, he is a mute.

He pays no heed if assaulted,

And be rolls over if pushed into filthy water

And does not fear people's laughter.

He does not dress for appearances;

Although children may cry and howl,

He does not hear them.

Those fond of competing for fame and profit

Reap but a barren grave.

But look at those in the world

Who are versed in tastelessness:

They can persuade a ruler to turn his head.

Simply cultivate, become an elder and

With one knife cut off dualistic judgement;

Leap over the blazing pit of suffering

And you are fresh and pure.

When you enlighten to the principle of immortality

The days and months become your neighbors and companions.

          The biography of Sramanera Kuo Tao, who translated “Han Shan and She Te”, will appear in the next issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea.

     COMING SOON...The sequel to This Is Something You Won’t Believe; The Lotus Sutra; The Heart Sutra; Records of the High Masters; Mara, Buddha, and Bodhisattvas; and other articles essential to the study of the Way.