The White Cloud and the Blue Mountain

July 31, 2012 § 13 Comments

A wise and lyrical passage.

Tozan, a famous Zen master, said: “The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud.  The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain.  All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other.  The white cloud is always the white cloud.  The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.” 

This is a pure, clear interpretation of life.  There may be many things like the white cloud and the blue mountain: man and woman, teacher and disciple. …They are quite independent, but yet dependent.  This is how we live, and how we practice zazen.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Tagged: , , , ,

§ 13 Responses to The White Cloud and the Blue Mountain

  • Rosemarie says:

    Wow, this piece of writing is good, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to inform her.

  • magnus26 says:

    Reminds me of the William Carlos Williams poem. “So much depends upon the Red Wheelbarrow”

    • Thomas Ross says:

      I was not familiar with the poem until your reply. It’s a fascinating work- reminds me of haiku- few words, many possibilities. Thanks for the reference.

      I’m still enjoying reading tales of your runs. I’ve returned to running in a more serious way after several years of doing mostly biking. I like it- so simple, elemental.



      • magnus26 says:

        Yes, two simple elemental things… I’m not much for poetry, but have always liked The Red Wheelbarrow.

        Also, the running. I stick to the trails so my legs have a chance of continuing for some years… I’d like to do more biking, as it’s a perfect stand-in during time of stress or injury or what have you.

      • magnus26 says:

        You know, this has got me curious about your running. I hope, perhaps in that forum, you’ll let me know more about what you’re up to on that front.

        Anecdotally, I hear of runners turning to cycling, often related to when the knees (or something else) gives out. I have a bike, but don’t get out much. I find the elemental allure of running really keeps me coming back — a small miracle for someone who was entirely sedentary for years.

  • Ah, what a paradox. I love paradoxes like this. Now, I need to think of what relationships I have that are like this. And be glad for them.
    BTW, what is zazen?
    I’m off to buy that book now. You told me about it before, and now with this excerpt, I’m thinking its time.

  • Susan Cooper/ says:

    I found this very helpful. It helps give me a way to express relationships that are strong but not totally depend on each other but are still a great part of our lives. Thank you Tom.

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Susan, that was really my focus. Because my connections with others seem so indispensable to my existence, I needed a way to think about how non-attachment could also be embraced. I found Suzuki’s passage helpful.

      Glad it resonated with your experience as well.



  • Thomas Ross says:

    Anne, for me this passage evokes what I used to see as the paradox of dependence and independence. How can the relationship of teacher/student, lover/lover exist when we are called to non-attachment?

    So for me, like the cloud and the mountain, I believe that we exist independently and yet not alone. Connections exist, and perhaps there’s a better word than “connections” here, between and among beings, each existing as and for herself.

    I love that you share your uncertainty about the passage. It’s honest- and you make me pause and ponder. A good thing.



    • Anne says:

      Thanks Tom, I just had an ‘aha’ moment. Thank you for sharing this post, so many things to learn, so many things to unlearn!



  • Anne says:

    Hi Tom. When we learn detachment from attachment and learn to live independently from source in all that is, and then surely we will be at one with one another and ourselves! Not sure that I have an understanding of this post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading The White Cloud and the Blue Mountain at only here only now.


%d bloggers like this: