Japanese Poetry, The Masters

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn’t, he gave a great laugh and was enlightened. It was Master Muso who oversaw the construction of the famous garden at Saiho-ji temple in Kyoto. He spent many years in solitude in the mountains, during which time he wrote a series of poems expressing his deep connection with nature.


Green mountains

have turned yellow

so many times

The troubles and worries

of the world of things

no longer bother me

One grain of dust in the eye

will render the Three Worlds

too small to see

When the mind is still

the floor where I sit

is endless space


Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
From: Zen Sourcebook: Traditional Documents from China, Korea and Japan