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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