Ko Un - Margins of Meditation

A few days ago one of the dead came back from the tomb.
Wearing the same old smile, his everyday clothes restored from the ashes,
he gives a full account of himself. All around him shines a watery light.
He talks his full, then leaves like a letter.
Beside me my young brother, body and heart purified, sees him off.

We spend every afternoon like this, greeting and saying goodbye.
Occasionally I hear the dead of ancient Korea talking.
They usually omit a few things, I think.
How could they reveal everything in one brief resurrection?
Their story, before and after they died, is more than a few words can express.

After seeing them off, my brother stays silent like an empty bowl.
Dressed lightly, he always welcomes our visitors from beyond,
with clear glass barriers of taboo lining the hallway.
Responding simply in a quiet voice to what they say,
his heart is open, ready to receive everything, alone.

Every afternoon we welcome and send off guests from beyond the tomb.
The light beyond the window is a sundial by which we tell the time.
Each word my brother hears from the dead
is first dried in the sun, then preserved.
Truly, this world is the other world, huge and vast;
this world is a tomb.
Tomorrow, let's not send off those that come, let's have them live with us.

Translated by Brother Anthony of Taize and Young-Moo Kim