IN THE SHADOW OF COLD MOUNTAIN

In POETRY by Jacqueline Gens3 Comments

Windhorse is the energy of the present moment, which contains this force because it is the only time we can feel basic goodness. —Sakyong Mipham.

When I read these profound words by my first teacher Chögyam Trungpa’s son while in the midst of a winter depression, like a key opening my mind, the following poems poured forth and the fog was lifted. This work is inspired by Hánshān; literally: “Cold Mountain”, fl. 9th century, who was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. A thousand years later his poems are as fresh and relevant as though written yesterday. Cold Mountain is neither here nor there but everywhere.

 

returning home the sound of falling water-1
I might as well live on Cold
Mountain with nowhere to go
No one to call
My heart aches
Shut out and shut in
Retreat hut oppressive
Memories stale….yet
A ray of sunshine glints across
The bare floor
Sit up straight, breathe,
Raise the good windhorse

***

Tsunamies of wrath
Avalanches of disapproval
Far from the capital of action
No one to protect me
Old friends deceive
With honied words
My enemies wait in ambush
Traveling alone
I mount the saddle of equanimity

***

I long to see your face
Padmakara
The full moon will suffice
So shine your light
Into the cool winds of night
My senses roused with fresh air
You come and go without fail
I long to hear your voice
OM AH HUM
Tonight, I’ll ride the good steed
Where we’ll meet again and again

***

Alone I stand amid fierce winds
Center of blaze
Left knee bent
A staff in the crook of my left arm
Secret companion of my heart
May these simple words
Last another thousand years
What need is there of sign posts
Here on Cold Mountain
When my steed knows the way?
I’ll go where the good
Windhorse takes me
Awake in the flame

***

For sustenance I drink the clear water
Of your words and eat an azure sky
A thousand arrows can not harm me
Riding my swift steed of windhorse
To the western gate
As the sun sets in glorious display
Where I’ll cross over someday
No regrets a tender heart
When mother and child shall meet again
And you and I will be one

***

They say I’m too this or that
Too fat, too loud, “fiery” too proud
Too poor, too stupid, too smart
They pass me by without even a smile
Lips pursed in disdain
Childishly yielding their phurbas
Nonetheless, I wear the raiment
of confidence when I ride my steed
lowest of the low, the last horse
No matter — I have my freedom worth
ten thousand gold ingots
no one can steal

***

On Cold Mountain
You won’t find much
Few like it here among
Sticks and stones
Bare fodder
But we live on air
Hear Space
Touch wind
See fire
Taste water
Smell earth
Our only ornaments

***

Cold Mountain rises from the slick
Black waters
There’s no trail
Nothing but crystal rock
Our favorite pastime
Raise the bow of no effort
Draw the arrow of awareness
Point and release
“Let it goes as it goes”
That’s how we hit the mark
Here on Cold Mountain
When thoughts and emotions arise

***

Good Morning world
The news from Cold Mountain
Brace yourself stormy weather ahead
Birth Old Age Sickness and Death
Let the steed of Windhorse
Carry us to safe ground
Let the steed of Windhorse
Protect us
Just as the sun always dawns

***

Tonight the girls run wild
On Cold Mountain
We’ll dance till we drop
Bare our breasts to the moon
Mimic the cries of peacock
Shamelessly we’ll taunt
The pedantic lords
Men in black coats
Or maroon robes
Who notice only half the sky
Law-makers and breakers
We’ll ride the swift steed of our messenger
Bearing banners of joy and prosperity
To those worthy
Who dare wander
Thru mists towards Cold Mountain

2014, Tsegyalgar East
Seat of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

About the Author
Jacqueline Gens

Jacqueline Gens

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Retired from decades of administrative service to the dharma and wild-minded poets & yogins, Jacqueline Gens now spends her time practicing, writing, and making calligraphy paper using recycled sacred texts and substances at Khandroling Paper Cooperative. She’s never too far from Cold Mountain.

Ink drawing by Erin Riordan.

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