Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan” as Want to Read:
One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan

by
4.51  ·  Rating details ·  396 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The hermit-monk Ryokan, long beloved in Japan both for his poetry and for his character, belongs in the tradition of the great Zen eccentrics of China and Japan. His reclusive life and celebration of nature and the natural life also bring to mind his younger American contemporary, Thoreau. Ryokan's poetry is that of the mature Zen master, its deceptive simplicity revealing ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published 2006 by Weatherhill (first published 1977)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Robe, One Bowl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about One Robe, One Bowl

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  396 ratings  ·  47 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan
Annet
Beautiful poetry... Since last year I’ve read poems from Asia and have grown fond of these beautiful writings. This is a collection poems of Ryokan, a famous 18th century hermit-monk and Zen-buddhist, living in poverty and simplity in a hut in the Japanese mountains. His poety is charming and simple, wonderfully beautiful I find... He wrote many styles –classical Chinese, haiku, waka, folk songs and Man’yo style poems. Most of the poems are concerned with Ryokan’s daily life – begging for his fo ...more
Peycho Kanev
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
IF THERE is beauty, there must be ugliness;
If there is right, there must be wrong.
Wisdom and ignorance are complementary,
And illusion and enlightenment cannot be separated.
This is an old truth, don’t think it was discovered recently.
“I want this, I want that”
Is nothing but foolishness.
I’ll tell you a secret—
“All things are impermanent!”

ALONE, wandering through the mountains,
I come across an abandoned hermitage.
The walls have crumbled, and there is only a path for foxes and rabbits.
The well, next
...more
Raven
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Some that I especially loved:

"How can we ever lose interest in life?
Spring has come again
And cherry trees bloom in the mountains.

I came to this village to see the peach blossoms
but spent the day instead
Looking at the flowers along the river bank.

Summer evening - the voice of a hototogisu
rises from the mountains
As I dream of the ancient poets.

The willows are in full bloom!
I want to pile up the blossoms
Like mountain snow.

When it is evening, please come to my hut
to listen to the insects sing;
I
...more
Thaisa Frank
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The thief left it behind--
the mon
At the window.

This is Ryokan's most famous haiku. Perhaps because he is the true thief,the secret thief. He has literally stolen the moon, given it to us outside the window so we see it as direct experience. However, Rokan's ability to create direct experience and to use language transparently to give us *the thing itself* is apparent in all these poems. They are precise descriptions of moments and emotions that always give the reader room to experience the even
...more
Jessaka
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, buddhism


What a beautiful poet by a man who lived a very humble life. Ryokan was an 18th century hermit-monk who came from the village of Izumozaki in Echigo province of Japan. While his youth was serene, when he was 18, he succeeded his father as the village headman. This job was filled with many conflicts, something that Ryokan disliked immensely for he hated contention. At some point during this time he reached a spiritual crisis and withdrew into silence. It was then that he decided to become a Buddh
...more
Jan van Leent
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This translation and introduction by John Stevens is highly recommended for its beauty. It is also a marvellous introduction to the way of living of the Japanese hermit-monk Ryokan

One example: after returning to his small hut - metaphor for clinging to his earthly ego? - Ryokan noticed that all was gone, he composed the haiku:

The thief left behind
the moon
At the window.

Another translation of this haiku:

The thief leaves behind,
the ever changeful Moon
at the firmament

Moon is often used to refer to T
...more
Patty
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, buddhism, japan, 2015
“Not much to offer you
Just a lotus flower, floating
In a small jar of water.”
p. 65

This is the last book that I have to read for my Book Riot challenge. I haven’t done a challenge in years and when I discovered this one in May, I thought I could manage it. There were twenty-four categories and I read many of them regularly. It was no hardship for me to read a romance, a guilty pleasure, an audiobook, short stories or a YA novel. It turned out that reading poetry was a no brainer also. I used thr
...more
Jordan
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, buddhism
This is one of the most soothing things I've ever read.
Mark Robison
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you want a simple Ryokan book that puts the emphasis on the poetry with simple language (as in the original) and minimal annotation, this is probably your best bet. I like the translation a tad better in "Great Fool: Zen Master Ryōkan; Poems, Letters, and Other Writings" but it's excellent here, too, and this book is easier to read.

I prefer Zen poetry over most other styles because each poem captures a moment in time like a photograph. It makes me slow down and notice things in my own life. R
...more
Joseph Knecht
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality, poetry

W HO SAYS my poems are poems? My poems are not poems. After you know my poems are not poems, Then we can begin to discuss poetry!

IF THERE is beauty, there must be ugliness; If there is right, there must be wrong. Wisdom and ignorance are complementary, And illusion and enlightenment cannot be separated. This is an old truth, don’t think it was discovered recently. “I want this, I want that” Is nothing but foolishness. I’ll tell you a secret— “All things are impermanent!”

I N THE entire ten quarte
...more
Eduard Barbu
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Zen monk Ryokan (the good and the generous one) wrote one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. Deceptively simple, yet profound, Ryokan's poems are the fruit of contemplative experience. Here is one: "What will remain as my legacy? Flowers in the spring. The hototogisu in summer, and the crimson leaves of autumn. ". And here is another one: "No answer I give, only a deep bow; Even if I replied, they would not understand. Look around! There is nothing besides this. "
Most of the poems a
...more
Rosa Frei
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book ‘One Robe, One Bowl’ contains a beautiful collection of poems by Ryokan, one of the most famous Japanese poets and Soto Zen buddhist monk. The poems give insight into the simple life of this hermit monk. The simplicity of his poems of nature in conjunction of human nature touches the reader in the very heart of his being. A jewel in the world of poetry.
Fran Spellman
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ryokan was a zen hermit monk in Japan who lived in the mid 1700-1800's and was/is a beloved monk known for his lovely poetry/haikus. Few words w/deep meaning in each of his poems this is a book that will remain at bedside to read each evening. Each word restores the soul: O, that my priest's robe were wide enough to gather up all the suffering people In this floating world. Ryokan.
J BadAss D
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
If there is beauty, there must be ugliness;
If there is right, there must be wrong.
Wisdom and ignorance are complementary,
And illusion and enlightenment cannot be separated.

This is an old truth, don't think it was discovered recently.
I want this, I want that
Is nothing but foolishness.
I'll tell you a secret -
All things are impermanent!
Michael Lawrie
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In my "in progress" comments I wrote "inspiring," because he turned my head around on a particular topic with one verse. I still hold to that assessment. I found his poetry like a breath of fresh air, both timely and timeless.
Lee Millard
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can read this book again and again and the enjoyment never fades

I love the humanity and emotions of this collection. It is so well translated and interpreted. I feel as the ugh I am there with Ryokan. As if we are friends.
Gonpo Dorje
Jun 18, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One one

To give no stars is the impossible ultimate rate.
To read this from cover to cover in one sitting, the story of a life unfolds.
One aging hermit sitting in his hut reading one old hermits rantings brings all to be one
Walter Parsons
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My sleeve is wet with tears

Transcendent all inclusive emptiness in a small hermitage in a remote location. One two three four five six seven eight.
Cindy
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The thief left it behind-
the moon
at the window.
Chris
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gentle and wonderful. I suspect I will come back to this.
Raphael d’Urbino
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good
Geoffrey
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Standing alone beneath a solitary pine;
Quickly the time passes.
Overhead the endless sky-
Who can I call to join me on this path?”
Noah Murphy
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Zen poetry by the hermit poet Ryokan. I read these poems to calm down before bed. I can't wait to read more by him.
Hemanth
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I rarely read any book twice but Ryokon's poetry was so simple that I had to read each line twice. Profound, simple, and beautiful poetry describing the indescribable solitude of a monk's life.
Duncan
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For me, Ryokan's work is the pinnacle of Japanese poetry. The simplicity of his writing is masterful, completely free from artifice or pretension.

Here Ryokan pieces together fragments of his life and daily experience into a set of deeply moving poems. Ryokan describes the deprivation and loneliness he endures as a buddhist hermit-monk living in a hut on a mountain side. He goes hungry and watches his store of firewood run out as he longs for visitors in the freezing winter months.

Does Ryokan w
...more
Mmars
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ryokan honestly expresses the feelings of hermitage. The satisfaction of solace in nature but also the loneliness. The harshness of winter and the joys of summer. The sadness of a friend not visiting and unexpected moments of enlightenment.

This is a contemplative collection that extols both wisdom and humility and explores a broad spectrum of emotion and wonder.
Meyps
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a good buy, a good read. I wanted to learn Japanese/ Chinese, while I was reading this thin volume. I'm sure the original versions of Ryokan's poetry are more lyrical, more touching, in their original form. John Steven's translations though, would suffice.
Chitra Divakaruni
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books of all time. The beautiful, seemingly simple poems are meditations in themselves. Deep, yet filled with a childlike joy and sometimes a yearning. If you sit in silence with them, they have the potential to change your life.
Shawn
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japaneselit
Small sample size, but I'm pretty sure that I've been sleeping better when I read this book before bed.
Stephen
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Woulda been a FAR better book had it lived up to the promise of:

a)it's author's fame
b)it's PERECT title
c)its (sadly) few precious and profound poems
or,
d)poetry
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Way of Zen
  • Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
  • The Flame
  • The Book of Tea
  • Delights and Shadows
  • The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology
  • Taking the Path of Zen
  • The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku
  • Therigatha - Book of Verses of Elder Bhikkhunis: Free Download on October 15 and 31, November 15 and 30, and December 15
  • Cane
  • Cold Mountain: One Hundred Poems by the t'Ang Poet Han-Shan
  • Berlin
  • Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout (Death Note, #5)
  • Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • The Doors of Perception
  • After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path
  • Wealth
See similar books…
79 followers
Ryōkan Taigu (1758–1831) was a quiet and eccentric Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk who lived much of his life as a hermit. Ryōkan is remembered for his poetry and calligraphy, which present the essence of Zen life.

Ryōkan lived a very simple, pure life, and stories about his kindness and generosity abound. However, even though he lived his simple and pure life, he also displayed characteristics that under n
...more

News & Interviews

Last year, Buzzfeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen struck a chord with her viral article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.”...
87 likes · 16 comments
“The rain has stopped, the clouds have drifted away,and the weather is clear again. If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure... Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the Way” 24 likes
“If there is beauty, there must be ugliness;
If there is right, there must be wrong.
Wisdom and ignorance are complementary,
And illusion and enlightenment cannot be separated.
This is an old truth, don't think it was discovered recently.
"I want this, I want that"
Is nothing but foolishness.
I'll tell you a secret -
"All things are impermanent!”
14 likes
More quotes…