Chang Jian

Oh, Chang Jian, you were only with us for a short while. With no birth nor date of death, you are unknown…

Except for two poems transcribed in the book of 300 Tang Poems. First, a polite note of thanks to Wang Changling (698–756) for a visit to his retreat; and then, a visit to a Buddhist retreat on Broken Mountain. Then you were heard no more. Perhaps, the beauty of the mountain and the Zen retreat convinced you to stay. A Shaolin monk, happy with your chosen Way, in solitude to contemplate the meaning of life.

We will never know.

One assumes at great risk of being wrong. Still, one takes the risk.

Wang Changling held an official position at Sishui (汜水), now Xingyang, in Henan province. Was the retreat there? The well-known Chan, Zen Buddhist Shaolin Monastery (Chinese: 少林寺) is there. As is the beautiful Pagoda Forest. But if so, why did Chang call the mountain Po and not Shaoshi (少室; Shǎo Shì)?

Read Chang Jian’s poem Behind a Buddhist Retreat