Ryokan plays Go

RYOKAN © Barbara-Paraprem, 2016RYOKAN © Barbara-Paraprem, 2016


One chilly autumn morning Mansuke was picking persimmons in his garden when he turned to see Ryokan standing there, looking up at the sky dreamily. Mansuke climbed down from the tree and Ryokan said: “Let’s play Go today.” Mansuke loved to play Go, so they went into his house and Mansuke immediately laid out his Go board and stones. But before they began to play he said: “Just playing an ordinary game of Go isn’t much fun. Why don’t we bet something? If you win…”? Ryokan said: “It’s getting cold, so if I win, you could give me a quilted robe.” “And if I win?” asked Mansuke. “I have nothing to give you”, Ryokan replied. “Then why don’t you do some calligraphy?” asked Mansuke, looking over at the brushes and calligraphy paper he had piled on his desk. “All right”, agreed Ryokan. They began to play, but Mansuke was much more skilled at playing Go than Ryokan was, so he soon beat him. And he insisted that Ryokan do some calligraphy. Ryokan took a fan from the desk on which he wrote:

Picking persimmons
my balls feel the chill
of the autumn wind.

Mansuke read the poem with a bitter smile. They resumed playing and when Mansuke won, Ryokan wrote out the same poem. When this happened three times, Mansuke, in exasperation exclaimed: “Three times for that same poem about balls is too much!” “Well”, Ryokan replied, “you won the same game of Go three times, didn’t you? So I wrote the same poem three times.”

Wikipedia: Ryokan (poet)
Wikipedia: Go (game)
Wikipedia: Persimmon

Crow eating a persimmon (Ohara Koson, ca. 1910, wikiart.org)Bird and persimmon (Ohara Koson, ca. 1910, commons.wikimedia.org)

Crow eating a persimmon / Bird and persimmon
Ohara Koson, ca. 1910
www.wikiart.org / commons.wikimedia.org



Plum Trees
Watanabe Shiko, Japan, 18. cent., commons.wikimedia.org


Ka ya hiraki
nori toku tori no

Blossoms scent the air,
a carefree birdsongs
echoes the truth.

Gozan (1695-1733)


At the evening, when Gozan died, were still quite a few flowers on the plum tree outside his window. From time to time an owl came to rest in the tree, and called out “Ho, Ho”. Then Gozan said: “My life is over …” He took his brush and wrote his death poem.

A death poem, called “Jisei” or “Jisei no ku” ( 辞世の句) or “Zetsumei-shi” (絶命詩) in Japanese, is a poem written near the time of one’s own death. It is a tradition for literate people to write one in a number of different cultures, especially in Japan and Korea, as well as certain periods of Chinese history.
Death poems have been written by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Zen monks, by many haiku poets, and Japanese Samurai. Poems were written following one of three poetic forms: kanshi, waka or haiku.
(Wikipedia: Death Poem)


The Four Immeasurables

YOU ARE THE LIGHT - SHINE © Barbara-Paraprem, 2015
YOU ARE THE LIGHT – SHINE! © Barbara-Paraprem, 2015


May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.


Möge ich glücklich sein.
Möge ich in Sicherheit sein.
Möge ich gesund sein.
Möge ich mit Leichtigkeit leben.


The Four Immeasurables
Die Vier Unermesslichen