Night drinking at the western pavilion of the Flower of the Dharma Temple

by Liu Zongyuan (773-819)

We gather at the Jetavana
Sunset Pavilion,
immerse ourselves
in drinking meditation.

The mist gives way to darkness.
Water laps against the steps.
The blossom-laden trellis glows
in the moonlight.

Never let your exhaustion show
to Venerable Inebriation.
One glance and it’s clear
which heads have yet
to turn white.
__________

This translation is dedicated to all the bloggers gathering at the Cambridge Zen Center and elsewhere in the Boston area this weekend: Beth, Pica, qB, Lorianne, Leslee and Abdul-Walid.

Jetavana – One of the first Buddhist monasteries, a converted pleasure-garden. The poet probably knows it from the opening of the Diamond Sutra, a very popular text in Tang Dynasty China: “Once, the Buddha sojourned in the Jetavana Park with an assembly of twelve hundred and fifty bhiksus…”

immerse ourselves in drinking meditation – literally, “together pour samadhi beer (rice wine)”

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