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True Zen Teachings

The autumn wind scatters the dead leaves
(the story of Takiguchi and Yokobue)

As told by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi

Once, a young man loved a rich young girl. For two years he wrote to her every day, but never received a response. So he became a monk, and retreated into a mountain hermitage.

One day, several years later, she came to his hermitage. Kneeling before him, she said, "I was wrong. Now I understand your love. Here I am, I'm yours!"

But he answered, "It's too late. Now I am a monk, I have cut my love for you. Leave!"

A few days later, he went down into the valley to beg for food in the village. All they talked about was the latest news: someone had found a very beautiful young woman, with a noble face and rich clothes, dead in the river. "It must be a love story that ended badly." The villagers buried her far away at that place they now call, the Tomb of Love.

The monk understood. He went to the tomb and sang this poem:

When you came to the door of my hermitage,
the dead leaves of autumn
rested, red, on the ground.
After you left, the autumn wind
scattered them all.
Everything is impermanent.
My poor hermitage is worth more than a palace.
Why couldn't our two destinies come together?
Before I suffered,
and you were peaceful.
Now I have entered the way of serenity,
and you suffer.
All these years have passed like a dream.
When we die,
no one follows us into the coffin.
Nothing will remain of our illusions:
So suffering is useless
as is mourning that now you are dead.
So like me, just listen:
The wind murmurs in the branches of the pine.

 

Source: Le Bol et le Baton. AZI Paris.


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