Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen priest in the Katagiri lineage training with Tim Burkett at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. He has taken a poem by Zen master Shitou (700-790) called "Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage" and used it as a chance to ponder the meaning of spiritual practice, humility, simplicity, and living lightly on the earth.
Buddha said "Everything that comes to be must pass away; make your peace with this and all will be well." Shitou decides to build and inhabit a little grass-roof hut on the side of a small Chinese mountain. He keeps nothing of value in this simple and austere place.
Connelly sees that Shitou is teaching us to let go of wanting and to attachment to self. He has found a way of being calm in his hut and relaxing when he wants. The Zen master takes care of the place and realizes that it contains the entire world.
The contemporary Korean-born Zen teacher Seung Sahn (1927 - 2004) popularized the "not-knowing mind." The mountain monk follows the same path by admitting that he doesn't understand at all. Connelly salutes Shitou's ability to be at ease in the world:
"To relax completely is to allow things to be as they are, and that includes ourselves. However we are, we can allow that to be; we can relax around it without trying to control it. Moment to moment, we can open up to what's here, including all the difficulty and the tension, the elation, or the boredom. We relax completely not by causing something to happen but by allowing what is to be, without judgment or control."