Reading Kazuaki Tanahashi & Peter Levitt’s new translation of The Complete Poems of Cold Mountain while also being subjected to news of the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Brett Kavanaugh is a telling study in contrasts. One is pointless, the other enduring. One is noise, the other sound.
Where would you be if you didn’t listen to or read a word of this tribal news from Washington, this much ado about nothing? On your way up Cold Mountain, that’s what.
As the first poem demonstrates, “the way” is not so much a path as a state of mind—one that is pure and protected from the clanging cymbals we call power and greed and hate.
Cold Mountain, Poem #1
by the Hermit Hanshan
You ask the way to Cold Mountain,
but the road does not go through.
In summer, the ice is not yet melted,
the morning sun remains hidden in mist.
How can you get here, like I did?
Our minds are not the same.
When your mind becomes like mine,
you will get here, too.
Deep breath in, slowly out….
2 thoughts on “Finding Your Own Way Up Cold Mountain…”
Ken, you’re wrong. Your so-called “tribal” Washington news, your “much ado about nothing,” is much ado about the next 20 years. If Kavanaugh is installed, a right-wing Supreme Court will attack and weaken abortion rights, health care legislation, and possibly allow our Moron-in-Chief to remain above the law. I’ve never been convinced poetry affects political attitudes; however, I do know that political cynicism allows evil to thrive. Your attitude sustains “greed and hate.”
I think we are looking at this from vastly different perspectives. I am addressing a much bigger picture in this post, comparing ancient China and the teachings of the Tao to a particular Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the news this week–one that unfortunately is all but a foregone conclusion and a charade for the cameras, a dog and pony show for the zealots.
Trust me. I care as much as you do. I vote as often as you do, too. I contributed to my state’s plurality (both popular vote and electoral college electors) for the loser in the last presidential election. It is not cynicism to be frank about the chances of the Senate rejecting this man Kavanaugh (the Senate being controlled by the Spineless Party). Unless something unexpected comes up, this conservative apparatchik will be nominated because all the control belongs to the bought-and-paid-for, vs. the people.
Thus, in this case anyway, your soapbox is superfluous and bad for your back. Put it down occasionally and breath. Save it for your real enemies!