Han Shan, or Cold Mountain was a legendary figure around the Tang Dynasty that was associated with a collection of poetry used by Zen, or Chan, Buddhists and Daoists alike. He didn’t really keep to conventional tactics of paper, brush, and ink. He carved on bamboo, wrote on walls, rocks, mountains, etc. He is often depicted with Shi-de, the pair is always known as Han Shan Shi De. Some believed that they were manifestations of Manjusri Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. There were no clear dates, or even a given name about Cold Mountain, but the common understanding so far was that he was around sometime during the eighth and ninth centuries. Most of his footprints were around the Tien Tai Mountains of the area south of Hangzhou. Many of his works were written near the area. He wrote about 600 piece of poetry, of which 313 pieces were collected till this day. The content of his works mainly revolve around his experiences or encounters he has had with people he met or even his thoughts about society. His works can be of simple observation, natural or social, but can definitely transcend what seem to be mundane facts into ultimate truths. That was how Zen Cold Mountain was. For this reason, and the attractiveness of overall biographical mystery, countless poets, scholars, misfits and Zen practitioners today count themselves amongst the devoted. He never wrote by traditional brush and paper though. He carved on the walls of the caved he lived in, the trunks of surrounding trees, bamboo husks, etc. For this paper I will quote one of Cold Mountain’s poetry and share my reflections along with commentary from current Masters.
There exist many translations of the above poem since the 1950s by writers such as Burton Watson, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, etc. I have chosen two translations, one by Red Pine and another by the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for the purposes of this presentation:
Trans. By Red Pine
People ask the way to Cold Mountain,
But roads don’t reach Cold Mountain.
In summer the ice doesn’t melt,
And the morning fog is too dense.
How did someone like me arrive?
Our minds are not the same.
If they were the same,
You would be here.
Trans. By Josey Shun and Bhikshuni Heng Yin of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
People ask the way to Cold Mountain:
There is no path.
How do I get there?
My mindset is different.
If your mind becomes like mine,
You will get there with ease.
Cold Mountain himself lived in a cave and would sometimes travel down Tian Tai Mountain at times. He would also stop at Guo Qing Temple as well. When people wanted to visit him, they would not know how to find him or where to find him. Navigation was not yet invented. When Cold Mountain wrote this poem, was he thinking about the physical phenomena? Could he have thought that since he could not install lighting to show where he can be located, that people could find him easily through his writings? Masters such as Venerable Master Hsing Yun of Fo Guang Shan may think otherwise. His take on the poem is referring to the Cold Mountain inside us. Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught that because the common person’s mind still differentiates, he cannot connect with the Cold Mountain. Someone can ask what Cold Mountain’s stage of cultivation was. Such differentiation like that could not experience what Cold Mountain has experienced. The mind is like free-flowing water, but because of a single thought of attachment the water solidifies into ice, and even under the summer heat the ice cannot melt. The sun’s rays can shed light all over, but a single thought of ignorance can be like the thick fog, even the bright sun cannot penetrate through it. Cold Mountain’s state of mind is like the vastness of space, the layperson’s mind has limits, the stages are quite different, but if our stages are similar, melting the ice mountain of differentiation, disbursing the fog of ignorant views, then our minds can meet each other.
 Shan, Han. The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain. Translated by Red Pine. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2000.
 Professor Yeh Chia-Ying. “Lectures on Tao Yuanming’s Poems (continued).” 萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea. January 1, 2000. Accessed December 08, 2017. http://www.drbachinese.org/vbs/publish/356/vbs356p035.htm.