361 A wooden fish
Holding in one’s hand a wooden fish
Going along the street begging for alms
Not seeing the duke who comes gently
However meeting one bird which flies away
It is wonderful to have high ideals, but you
also need to live. Being up in the clouds
all the time might very well starve you.
With common sense and awareness of your
surroundings you can take care of your
needs, and certainly of those who depend on
you. Ideals should be part of reality and vv.
木魚 Wooden fish: a Buddhist percussion instrument.
362 Water and fire
Water and fire already assisting
Yin and yang are in accord
They raise all things and renew the people
Pay respect to the sky and praise the earth
Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang, Fire and Water, they are the grand complementary forces which create the world and keep it in balance. Honor them and make them the base of everything you do, so your life and creations will have meaning. It is like using the best quality of seeds when you sow.
363 Riding the Jade Hare *
Riding the Jade Hare
Towards the cold expanse
To meet Cháng’é
And climb the laurel tree
My entire body has the strong fragrance
Humanity invented beautiful values: care,
honesty, responsibility, common sense, and
much more. But when nature calls, she
overrules them all. She has strong drugs to
get her wish. The boy who lost his mind, the
girl which got pregnant, don’t blame them,
they didn’t have much say in it.
Jade Hare: the moon. 嫦娥 Cháng'é Goddess of the moon. 桂 laurel or osmanthus
364 A Shendao priest
The one road of spirit
Follow it and leave for the journey
You will come upon people
who find the methods
Everywhere is divine manifestation
If you think there is more to life than
the obvious, then search for it. It is a sign
that you need those larger values. If you
neglect this message, you will never really
be happy. Once you start your journey, you
will meet others who understand and also
innumerable manifestations of those values.
神道 shéndào, beliefs regarding ghostly influences, gods; spirits, tomb passage, 〈Jp.〉 Shinto.
365 The alchemist
Fire in the furnace
Gold in the sand
Effort and skill complete the work
The furnace of the alchemist accomplishes it
Every matter contains spirit, even a stone
stores energies. Bring your own spirit
in everything you do, in every fact you
encounter, in every thought you entertain.
It is the act of creation, giving your breath of
life to what you touch. It will still live when
you are gone, still enriching the world.
丹 Pill or the mercuric sulfide.
丹鼎 Furnace of alchemists for concoction of immortality pills.
366 A friend who shares your heart
You left for a very long journey
But if you meet an understanding friend
And you are of one heart and help each other
You can garner big merit and fame
An understanding audience will bring any artist to a higher level. If you want to create something for others, it is important to find someone who connects with it. It is meant to be shared, and it will start to live when it is shared. Even one single person can be enough to form an audience. (See story 96)
367 The flowers open
Enjoying the beautiful scenery
on a day in spring
Watching the flowers open at the right time
Many flowers can be picked
Many branches can be planted
You can watch the spring flowers an entire day. Or you can be active and do something with it. It is your choice. Being or interacting, they are fundamentally different, but both have their merit. One day you choose to be, another day to do. Follow what your heart wants and you will spend your days well.
368 The dragon rumbles
The dragon rumbles once
And the clouds we need gather
He rushes through the night
and goes straight up
He observes sharply
the peace and tranquility
The culture and the military
The sovereign ruling
and the minister going about his duties
In old times, Heaven let the people know if the government was good or bad. A bad emperor would cause drought or other disasters. Nowadays it is still a fact, that the right attitude triggers good things to happen. Maybe as a simple result, or maybe there is also a universal resonance. Who knows.
369 The emerging tiger
The emerging tiger is wounded by arrows
What fate will his courage bring?
How is this similar
to the old man on the mountain
Who has no wealth but yet has delight
Courage and power are no guarantee for success. A simple life lived day after day, without big challenges, has more of a chance to bring happiness than any big undertaking. Knowing how strong you are may make you too careless, knowing how vulnerable you are makes you grateful for what you have.
370 Narrow and wide roads *
After passing narrow winding roads
You enter a broad and open one
Wuling and furs and horses
It makes you remember
where you came from
When you go from rags to riches, then how
do you deal with it? It is easy to forget your
origin, but if you do remember, it will make
you grateful. Innumerable stories and myths
talk about it, because it is so important.
Even in small happenings, a lucky stroke
of one single day, you still should remember.
羊腸 Narrow winding road: litt. intestines of a sheep.
康莊 Broad and open road (idiom) brilliant future prospects.
This story is about Wuling and furs and horses.
371 The way of water
Fire encounters destroying water
Water extinguishes its light
The flow of water is smooth
From a distant source flowing on and on
Fire is hot and destructive. But it is water
which has the power. Water is relentless,
has one single goal, doesn’t resist but
circumvents. It is unconquerable because it
never fights. It can destroy, because it has
no limits. Don’t fight it but learn its way. It is
the way to persist.
源遠流長 lit. source is distant and flow is long. Long-lasting and well-established. Fig: sth goes back to the dim and distant past - a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.
372 Pass the wine
A banquet starts at the Eastern Pavilion
Honored guests will certainly come
Sing lustily joining in the chorus
Pass the wine and pour it out
and set the mind at rest
You need relaxation from time to time. Not just by doing nothing and resting, but by changing your scene. Being with good friends, having a nice time, doing things you’d certainly not do normally. Having a vacation or letting loose and not bothering about the hangover of the next day.
373 When peace shows cracks
The world seems peaceful
You are not aware that poetry already ceased
When building with stones
you need to be careful
You must guard against disasters
Before disaster strikes, your intuition tells you. The signs are tiny, so you have to strain your ears and eyes. Refrain from anything which might set it off, stay away from risks, be careful with words, avoid impulsivity. Find out where you are vulnerable. This is not the time to build up anything lasting.
374 The dragon gate *
When jumping the dragon gate
There should be turbulent waves
And the booming of thunder and lightning
And bottomless enthusiasm
It would be great when every success could
be accompanied by fireworks. Alas, daily
reality is not like that. You get something
done, finally - and nothing happens. You’re
satisfied but in silence. Then make it happen
yourself, jump around, sing or dance, phone
a friend and brag. Enjoy!
跳龍門 Jump dragon door: pass the civil-service examinations.
萬丈 bottomless: litt.10.000 x 3,3 meter.
波 wave or unexpected turn of events.
375 The ancient pine tree
An ancient pine tree
high in the mountains
Gracefully erect on the plane of Handou
A venerable trunk and branches long
Heaven and earth gave birth
to longlasting glory
When something has been made in
harmony with Heaven and Earth, with the
best materials and with all the time it needed
to grow in its own pace, it will be beautiful,
strong, proud and last long. It will survive its
maker and make his memory linger through
ages to come.
沖 〈topo.〉 n. (used in place names) flat stretch in hilly area.
376 Fate has been decided
Do not consider them
In the end
Fate has already been decided
A mediocre ephemeral life
Is inferior to staying within one’s bounds
Reject what is below your ethics. Don’t grovel for the sake of good relations, either business or family. Rebuff gossip, flattery or jealousy. All these things pull you down until your life is without any real value. Whatever the circumstances, everyone’s worth is decided by their integrity.
377 Sacrificing a pig
Can be a sacrifice to Heaven and Earth
Even though it loses its life
It also counts as a benefit
Sacrificing your surplus is no sacrifice. Give what you need yourself. It will be a loss, but only then your gift is a genuine one. Similar attracts similar. Your truth attracts the truth of gods, spirits and people. Don’t discount your own spirit, it will find inspiration and it will ascend to great heights.
378 Thinking at night
Rather than running hither and thither in the day
How about thinking carefully in the night
At daytime there are many tiring tasks
At night however you are at ease and sedate
In the day one thing comes after the other, and thinking happens in that same way. At night you can linger on a thought, find the overview, the bigger picture. Many things only become clear at night, when nothing disturbs your mind. Make use of this, every evening opening your mind for the night.
379 The eastwind
The east wind is coming
The flowers open up
All of us are cheering
And drink our fill with several cups
When the signs of a better time are arriving,
then embrace them. After this you can start
working on the things which should or can
be done in this new time, but for the moment
it is important that you welcome it. Every
change should be freely celebrated in order to
anchor it to positive expectations.
喝采 drink with happy faces: cheer, acclaim.
380 Simple food
In simple and plain food
One takes delight
The smell and taste of rich food
on the other hand
Will obscure the heart
Give everything the value it deserves. Cherish honest food, care for your body’s health, don’t violate the boundaries of your existence and treat all things and creatures with respect. Your body, mind and surroundings will respond with self-respect and strength.
381 From plowing to harvesting
Yellow oxen open up the earth,
Vigorously expand the boundaries;
At the time of harvest
Millet and rice will fill up the granaries
Put in all your skills and all your strength. Go on until you succeed. Now is the time to lay the base for the coming years. You will need to know the right time for every part of the work, to listen to nature and her seasons, to organize and motivate, to delegate when necessary. Give it your all.
382 The dragon-snake
A snake can change into a dragon
On the head horns will emerge
A thunderous spectacular sound on the earth
A powerful dragon-snake appears
Even when you seem like nothing, there
is a core inside with more power than you
realize. Recover and start anew, leave all
your faults and mistakes behind, and find a
new beginning. Let this core be your guide
at every step, and you will grow beyond
anyone’s expectations, including your own.
A thunderous spectacular sound on the earth: have a great spectacular succes.
龍蛇 dragon snake; flourish in calligraphy; eminent person.
383 The nine peaks of Huashan
On the nine peaks of Huashan
Purple Qi is soaring
Choose the last boat
Take off and move forward
When everything is sizzling with energy,
and many others have already answered to
it, then go on your way as well, before you
are too late. Pick your own road, don’t copy
another, and use this momentum. Let this
wind fill your sails and bring you to new
Soaring; seething with activity.
Embark: lit. different to the fullest
384 The fruit
People are not Confucius or Yan Hui
Few can be without fault
Making faults and yet being able to change
One is as before without fault
Blossoming is not enough evidence
Bearing fruit is the criterion
and embrace intentions with happiness
Nobody can be as perfect as Confucius or his favorite pupil Yan Hui. You will always make mistakes or even serious faults. What matters is if you correct them. Looking good is worthless when it doesn’t produce anything substantial, and what you do can only have value if the base is sound.