One Truth

15 02 2009






In all ten directions of the universe,

there is only one truth.

When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.

What can ever be lost? What can be attained?

If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of the time.

If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.

Look: this ball in my pocket:

can you see how priceless it is?


~ Ryōkan* (1758 – 1831)




Source: “The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry” Edited by Stephen Mitchell p.97


*Ryōkan (1758-1831), Japanese Zen Master, hermit, calligrapher, and poet; his name means “Goodly Tolerance.” Another Buddhist name that he took for himself means “Great Fool.” Ryokan is one of the most beloved figures in Japanese literature, and is especially known for his kindness and his love for children and animals; he even used to take the lice out of his robe, sun them on a piece of paper on the veranda, then carefully put them back into his robe. He used to smile continually, and people he visited felt “as of spring had come on a dark winter’s day.” His most famous haiku was written after a thief had broken into his hut and stolen his few simple possessions:                                                                                             

The thief left it behind:

the moon                             

at my window




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