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Reflections In Water and Mirrors
Reversing the Tide of Destiny


Tao Yuanming

■  宣化上人撰述於一九八七年五月一日     Composed by the Venerable Master Hua on May 1, 1987
■  國際譯經學院記錄     Translated by the International Translation Institute





家貧無酒   乞諸鄰友   出仕縣令   掛冠而走
歸去來兮   折腰五斗   志雖清廉   杯常在手




From last issue: His aspirations were pure and noble, and he had no desire for fame and profit. He resigned his post and returned to the countryside. He said, “I will not bow for the sake of a salary of five pecks of rice.”

He wrote “The Return” to express his ideals. After he resigned from his post as an official, he wrote “The Return” to explain his ideals. He expressed them in a very candid fashion. His poem “The Return” has many fine verses. How does it go? It says, “I am aware that what happened in the past cannot be corrected.” That is, I feel that in the past, I did not think things through clearly for myself; I did not pause to reflect and consider that, for the sake of a salary of five pecks of rice, I should not have lost my integrity; I should not have been willing to bow down and humiliate myself. In the past, I didn’t consider carefully, so I acted wrongly. However, I know that the future can be different. I know that in the future, I can still save myself and revert to the way I would like to be. Truly, I have not strayed too far from the path. Honestly speaking, I have not gone too far astray. I have not become too deeply deluded, and I can still retreat bravely from the dangerous situation. I know that I should come back! Therefore, I realize that what I am doing today is right and what I did before was wrong. I have awakened to today’s rights and yesterday’s wrongs. He exhorted himself with the words, “Being content, one is always happy. Being patient, one is naturally at peace.” He was an optimistic scholar. Because he always used that motto to remind himself, he was constantly happy and at peace, so people called him an optimist.

His works include The Chronicles of Mr. Five Willows, Records of the Land of Peach Blossoms, and others. These are two of his works. These works are sublime and removed from the mundane; the principles in them are liberated and transcendent. Reading them, one feels as if one were actually part of the story. When people read Records of the Land of Peach Blossoms, they feel as if they are actually in the peach orchard.

He was comfortable in poverty and took delight in the Way. He amused himself with poetry and wine. Thus, he was called “the poet of the fields and gardens.” He did not crave fame or profit, but craved only the contents of the winecup. He was a person who accepted poverty and found joy in the Way. One could say that he was a fine scholar, except for his drinking problem. He craved neither fame nor profit. The only thing he craved was wine to drink. Drinking wine was the most important thing to him. So in The Return he wrote, “The three paths are overgrown, but the pines and chrysanthemums are still there. Bringing their children, they enter the house. The goblets are filled with wine.” As soon as he arrived home, he had to have some wine. He died at fifty-two and was posthumously named the “Gentleman of Quiet Integrity.” Probably his drinking shortened his life, so at the age of fifty-two, he died in an unknown manner, perhaps in an accident that happened while he was drunk. Later, he was given a posthumous title, “Gentleman of Quiet Integrity.”

A verse of critique says:
     In his poor household, there was no wine,
     So he begged for some from neighbors and friends.
     He came out to serve as district magistrate,
     But later hung up his official cap and walked out.
     He returned home,
     Unwilling to bow for a salary of five pecks of rice.
     Though his ideals were pure,
     The cup was ever in his hand.

Ah, this Tao Yuanming! If he hadn’t drunk wine, he would have been a fine scholar. What a pity he was a drinker! So the verse says, In his poor household, there was no wine, / So he begged for some from neighbors and friends. He was so poor at home, and yet he had a fondness for drink. He liked to drink, but didn’t have any wine. Having no wine, he went to his friends and neighbors to borrow a little wine, or to borrow a little money to buy some wine. Perhaps he borrowed the wine and went straight home to drink it. He was always trying to think of ways to obtain some wine to drink.

He came out to serve as district magistrate. When he was serving in official capacity, he held the position of a district magistrate. But after serving for eighty-some days, he later hung up his official’s cap and walked out. He didn’t want to be an official anymore. He “hung up his official’s cap,” meaning he resigned his official post, and walked out.

→To be continued


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