Poems of Meng Jiao
For Monk Dao Yue
Monk's face, pure without taint.
Monk's clothes, patchwork of blossoms.
Always looking to accomplish this day.
Never letting his shadow incline.
A plain diet of honesty and virtue.
A seated mountain radiating gentle light.
He wants to know Chan's hidden heights
And sew a kesha of those evergreen sprays.
Chan is the father of Zen, the child of India's Bodhidharma in China. Monk's robes, going back to origins in India, were sewn of waste cloth. That is to say, a patchwork of toilet-paper. That was the cloth that could be had for free. The splendor of Dao Yue's robes in the first verse is likely to be an inner splendor. Meng Jiao is no admirer of luxury. In this poem, Meng Jiao seems to admire Dao Yue's meditation practice in which Dao Yue maintains an upright posture, never letting his shadow incline during his prolonged sessions of searching for the hidden heights. One sits for years before the shadow remains upright without a constant struggle. The "gentle light" are explicitly, in the original, the colorful clouds of a sunrise or sunset.