Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Reworking Dogen’s white mountain poem from Sanshodoei

From the Sanshodoei poems, I have been working on the English translations with John Fraser –


waga iho wa
koshi no shirayama
kouri mo yuki mo
kumo kakari keri

my hut
in the white mountain of Koshi
enclosed in winter’s
ice and snow
wrapped in cloud

Eihei Dogen

moon cloud – secluded within snow


moon cloud softly emerging
plumes of blue snow dust
swirling around
our scratched out rooftop

Discovered in my sketchbook poetry notes


through pale ochre land
gaping dark blue fissure
within the sky a light hole

self transparent
roaming path hill spontaneously
becoming deer hare
blown by atlantic gusts
everything is shimmering


Windswept Carn an Tuirc and Glas Maol


waga iho wa
koshi no shirayama
kouri mo yuki mo
kumo kakari keri

my Koshi
white mountain
cozy winter den
ice and snow
overlaid by clouds

Eihei Dogen



The voice of the valley is endlessly preaching.
The colour of the mountain is nothing but pure body.
During the night, I heard eighty-four thousand verses.
How shall I expound this to others?

Su Dongpo, composed when visiting Mount Lushan overnight (quoted from ‘The Wholehearted Way’ by Koushou Uchiyama Roshi)




Transient worlds within worlds, and divergence – with translations of Basho and Ryoukan

Imperm (Photograph)

within the thin covering snow
Three Thousand Worlds

again inside this world
fragile snow falls


vision of decay in mind, the wind permeates the body


at the month’s end moonless –
a one thousand year old cedar
is hugged by the storm



Contained – Spaciousness
Tranquil – Distorted
Phenomenon – Concept

Vapour Sky 11315

rocky mountain passes,
transparent clouds –
no up no down,
passing between
horizons non continuous

Vapour Sky (

Ben Ledi – pulsating mountain

Ben Ledi 1 (

Ben Ledi 2 (

Ben Ledi 3 (

Ben Ledi 4 (

Ben Ledi 5 (

Ben Ledi 6 (

Ben Ledi 7 (

temporal voids
of cerulean blue –
ice holes, pulsating –
falling apart rapidly

Smeared Across Time – Kusen Collaboration with John Fraser

Barra 24 -1

John’s Kusen

Poetry Dogen’s ‘Everyday Life’ [adapted]

On Unseen Mountain
A scarecrow is
Not in vain


The scarecrow standing over a small rice paddy would often be dressed in black, like a monk. He protects that which feeds all beings. So, Dogen is talking about the practitioner and the dharma, and the relationship between them.

Because the scarecrow is fully expressing himself, the rice, the birds, the mountain and all things can fully express themselves. Likewise the bird. Likewise the mountain.

Because the mountain is unseen, the eyes of duality are closed. Because this is so, all being leaps out of a picture and is whole, not fractured.

The scarecrow does not eat yet all things are fed

Since, unlike a Hungry Ghost, the scarecrow is not

smeared across time

More zen articles at Kusen & Notes from John

Artworks and response by John Fraser

Unevenness 2 (

Unevenness 3 (

Response to images by John Fraser:

The eyes are unseen;
All the worlds are visible

(Gatha of Xuedou, Blue Cliff Records) Unevenness, non fixing…

Compiled by Zen Master Yuanwu Keqin (Engo Kokugon, 1063-1135)

One, seven, three, five.
The truth you search for cannot be grasped.
As night advances, a bright moon illuminates the whole ocean;
The dragon’s jewels are found in every wave,
Looking for the moon, it is here, in this wave, in the next.

Unevenness 1 ( photograph with sea, reflection of it in some strange surface, blue green and yellow