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Ps. 1: A Zen-Inspired Translation

Norman Fischer is a poet, author, and Zen Buddhist priest. His most recent poetry titles are On a Train at Night (PURH, France, 2018) and Untitled Series: Life As It Is (Talisman House, 2018). His latest Buddhist titles are What Is Zen (Shambhala, 2016) and The World Could be Otherwise: Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path (Shambhala, 2019) His interpretation of the Hebrew Psalms, Opening to You (Viking Compass, 2002) is widely read in both Jewish and Christian circles.


Psalm 1: A Zen-Inspired Translation

Norman Fischer, Opening to You


Happy is the one who walks otherwise

Who stands otherwise

Than in the way of the twisted

Who does not sit in the seat of the scornful

But finds delight in the loveliness of things

And lives by that pattern all day and all night—


For this one is like a tree planted near a stream

That gives forth strong fruit in season

And whose leaf doesn’t wither

And whose branches spread wide—


Not so the heedless


They are like chaff scattered by the wind

Endlessly driven, they cannot occupy their place

And so can never be seen or embraced

And they can never be joined


What you see is always lovely and remembered

But the way of heedlessness is oblivion


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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.