Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Three Short Poems


(A Chinese poet of the 8th or 9th Century, known in Japan as “Kanzan”)

Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 11, No. 2. (Spring, 1977). © World Wisdom, Inc.

How pleasant is Kazan’s path
with no track of horse or carriage,
over linked valleys
with unremembered passes and
peak upon peak
of unknowable heights,
where the dew
weeps on a thousand grasses
and the wind
moans to a single pine;
now, at the point where
I falter in the way,
my form asks my shadow
“whence came we?”
Men ask about Kanzan’s path
though Kanzan says
his road is inaccessible,
where the ice has not melted,
and sunshine
where the mist hangs thick;
“how will you draw close
to one like me when
your heart is not as my heart?
If only your heart
were as my heart, then
you would reach the centre.
The people of our times
are trying to track down
the path of clouds, but
the cloud-path is trackless,
high mountains
with many an abyss and
broad valleys
with little enough light,
blue peaks
with neither near nor far,
white clouds
with neither East nor West;
“You wish to know
where the cloud-path lies?
It lies in utter emptiness.”

translated by Peter Hobson

Original editorial inclusion that followed the essay in Studies:
To attain tranquility of spirit and avoid inconstancy, one must have initiation and the aid of a guide. The spiritual path is the most dreadful there is; it is strewn with innumerable pitfalls. Unless he is guided by an experienced hand, a man no matter how intelligent is sure to make some false moves…
In this world, even to learn the art of stealing one needs a guru. How much greater is the necessity of a guru if one is to acquire the supreme knowledge of Brahman!
Swami Brahmananda.

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