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Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage

Updated: Aug 30, 2020

For our Thursday night meetings from September 24 to October 29, Rev. Chikyo Ewan Magie will lead a study group on this classic zen text. 

Description: We will study and practice with Shitou’s practice poem “Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage” for 6 weeks, examining and practicing its instructions intimately. Also, as background and to deepen understanding and context, we will investigate its relation to other related texts, including Shitou’s “Harmony of Difference and Unity” and “Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi” by Dongshan.

This 6-week class at Prairie Mountain Zen Center will be online via Zoom for any interested practitioners. Reverend Chikyo Ryunin Ewan Magie will offer the class on Thursday evenings after zazen for 6 weeks starting 9/24/20. Zazen begins at 6:30 and the class runs from 7-8pm. Each week there will be brief presentation followed by group sharing to keep classes interactive.

Texts: Inside the Grass Hut by Ben Connelly.

“Harmony of Difference and Equality”:

September 24: Interdependence and the Middle WayMeeting the person in the hut.

Stanzas 1 & 2 focus on foundational themes that run through the poem:

Realizing Impermanence, Seeing Weeds everywhere, Engaging Humility and Humbleness, Relaxing and Calming, Not Getting Stuck.

October 1: Impermanence and EmptinessRecognizing interdependence.

Stanza 3 focuses on Meeting the Entire World in your Small Hut, Trusting beyond Doubt, Illumining Forms and their nature, Investigating what perishes

October 8: Practicing Here and NowAcknowledging the present moment.

Stanza 4 focuses on Discovering the Original Master, Investigating what is Present, Developing Firm Steadiness

October 15: Weeds AppearOpening to hindrances.

Stanza 5 focuses on Resting in the Center of the Hut/World, Practicing Don’t Know Mind, Awakening in the midst of Samsara, Asking “how do I ‘entice guests’?”

October 22: Letting Go Self, Inside and OutOpening the hand of thought.

Stanza 6 focuses on Practicing the Heart of Zen: “Turning the Light Around and Shining Within,” Encountering and Dwelling within the “Vast Inconceivable Source,” Meeting the Ancestors and the Teachings, Building Your Hut with Right Effort

October 29: No SeparationBeing intimate with this skin bag.

Stanza 7 focuses on Letting Go Completely, Relaxing Here and Now, Engaging Words and Interpretations as Freeing you from Obstructions, Not Separating from Body-Heart-Mind

Concluding Remark: Many of us are living alone, experiencing isolation during this time of pandemic and quarantine. Shitou’s poem presents an image of a hermit’s life in a small grass hut and provides practice instructions that help us meet its challenges by utilizing our Zen practice. Investigating hermit practice feels appropriate for the challenges of our time. As in previous classes, we will share and explore the poem and our Zen practice through a series of Reflection Questions week by week.

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