Sonome – a Lone Lamp

Sonome was a well-known poetess and a profound student of Buddhism. She once wrote to Zen master Unko: “To seek neither reality nor falsehood is the root source of the Great Way. Everyone knows this, so even if I seem immodest for saying so, I do not think this is anything special. As goings-on in the source of one mind, the willows are green, the flowers are red. Just being as it is, I pass the time reciting verse and composing poetry. If this is useless chatter, then the scriptures are also useless chatter. I dislike anything that stinks of religion, and my daily practice is invocation, poetry,and song. If I go to paradise, that’s fine; if I fall into hell, that’s auspicious.”

By myself I remember
not to seek mind;
the green lamp has already illumined
my lone lamp heart.
Whether in clamor or silence,
I have a clear mirror:
it thoroughly discerns
pure hearts among humans.

It is not something existing,
that anyone can see and know,
nor does it not exist:
such is the lamp of truth.

When Sonome was about to pass on, she bade farewell to the world with this poem:

The sky of the autumn moon
and the warmth of spring:
Is it a dream? Is it real?
Hail to the Buddha of Infinite Light!

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