A Buddhist Journal

September 21, 2006

Flower Was Prettier Last Year – 花是去年红 (a Zen Poem)


法眼  文益禪師 (885 – 958)


Flower Was Prettier Last Year

Wearing my hairy woolen robe and staring at the floral bushes,

The delight is different from the worldly interest.

My hair turns into grey from today.

The flowers last year is comparably deeper in red shade.

The beauty comes alone with morning dew,

The fragrance follows after the evening breeze.

One ought not to wait until the flowers withered and fallen,

then to realize its emptiness.

—– Poem by Zen master Wen-Ye (885 – 958) ———

 The patriarch of Dharma Eye Zen Linage

Zen poem study:

The author was wearing a hairy woolen monk robe, and was staring at the
floral bushes in the winter. He smells the fragrant as sent by the breeze. He
enjoyed the wonderful moment with delight which is very different from the
interest of worldly life.

All of sudden, he got himself awakened and mindfully found his hair became
grey while as the relentless flowers were still the same as last year except that
the  flower of last year is comparably prettier in red shade.

However the beauty of flower will be gone unavoidably after sunset. The
delight fragrance can not be shared far away even is conveyed by the breeze.
Why should we wait until the flowers withered and fallen when all the beauty
and fragrance are gone.  We then realize it as a dreamlike emptiness.


While we appreciate the illusion of delightful floral scene as a true existence
in the worldly life, we will get lost in the reality of our true mind and Ego.


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