Chinese Poetry, The Masters

Fu Ta-shih’s Poem: Empty Handed, I Hold a Hoe

The legendary inventor of the kyozo, the custom-made building for housing sutras, Fu Ta-shih (also known as Bodhisattva Shan-hui) was a 6th century Chinese poet and lay master. Below are two translations of one of his famous short poems or gathas


Empty-handed, I hold a hoe.
Walking on foot, I ride a buffalo.
Passing over a bridge, I see
The bridge flow, but not the water.
(The Golden Age of Zen)


The handless hold the hoe.
A pedestrian walks, riding on a water buffalo.
A man passes over the bridge.
The bridge not the water flows
(Ch’an and Zen teaching)

Fu Ta-shih (497-569)

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