Traditionally a Zen Master would write a poem when about to die. The poem served as a summation of life and a gift to inspire his disciples.
Coming and going, life and death;
A thousand hamlets, a million houses.
Dont you get the point?
Moon is the water, blossom in the sky….
Life as we
Find it, death too.
A parting poem?
DGessh Died January 10, 1696, at age 79
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight –
Thus I return to the source.
Hosshin, 13th century
Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it. Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What, then, is all?
Senryu, died September 23, 1790, at 73
Bitter winds of winter –
but later, river willow,
open up your buds.
Kozan Ichikyo, died February 12, 1360, at 77
Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going –
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
Like dew drops
on a lotus leaf
Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49
During his last moment, Shisui’s followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died. The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism. It indicates void — the essence of all things — and enlightenment.