Sun BuerSun Buer
Illustration: Medieval Chinese Lady in meditation posture of a Taoist Master

Poems by Zen-Taoist Master & Immortal Sister Sun Bu-er (Sun Pu-erh)
Historical Legend of Sun Bu-er
Feminine Tao
(compare with) Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism

These translations are from Thomas Cleary's Immortal Sisters: Secret Teachings of Taoist Women (Shambhala Publications, Inc. 1989/1996). For more on the life of Sun Bu-er (Sun Pu-erh), see the Historical Legend.

Thomas Cleary says: "Sun Bu-er, whose given name means 'Peeless,' was born in 1124 C.E. She had three children and took up single-minded Taoist practice when she was fifty-one years old. This pattern of entering fully into spiritual Immortalism only after attaining maturity and fulfilling the normal requirements of social life was highly approved of in the Complete Reality school, according to which preliminary work could be done while in the ordinary world."

The relic from before birth
Enters one's heart one day.
Be as careful as if you were holding a full vessel,
Be as gentle as if you were caressing an infant.
The gate of earth should be shut tight,
The portals of heaven should be first opened.
Wash the yellow sprouts clean,
And atop a mountain is thunder shaking the earth.

The beginning of the sustenance of life
Is all in yin and yang.
The limitless can open up
The light of the great limit.
Diligently polished, the mirror of mind
Is bright as the moon;
The universe in a grain
May rise or it may hide.
Before our body existed,
One energy was already there.
Like jade, more lustrous as it's polished
Like gold, brighter as it's refined,
Sweep clear the ocean of birth and death,
Stay firm by the door of total mastery,
A particle at the point of open awareness,
The gentle firing is warm.
You need companions to travel
To the Isle of Immortals —
It is hard to climb
The azure cliffs alone.
If you take dead stillness for refinement,
The weak water brimming
Will lack a convenient boat.
A springlike autumn's balmy breeze reaches afar.
The sun shines on the house of a recluse
South of the river;
They encourage the December apricots
To burst into bloom:
A simplehearted person
Faces the simplehearted flowers.
also called: "The Mind Mirror of the Mystic Pearl"
by Sun Bu-er (Sun Pu-ehr)

The Tao is uncontrived yet there is nothing it does not do.
It can be witnessed by the mind, not known by knowledge.

What is "knowing"? What is "witness"?
Knowledge dismisses knowledge.
Witness openly responds.
Response comes from nowhere.
Mind then penetrates.

Penetrate the One and all tasks are done.
The One is the root.
The task is the door.

When the task returns to One, the One is ever present.
The presence should not be reified;
provisionally we speak of keeping it.

Keep open selflessness and naturally be eternal.

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Feminine Tao Te Ching   •   •   Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism