Today’s thought from Path to Peace seems at first glance to present a sound rebuff of the sentimentalism of Gaston Bachelard that I quoted yesterday. In her reflections, Venerable Wuling stresses facts we must admit, such as: to be alive is already to be dying a little every day, every action is ephemeral, and all love will end.
Or are they really that grim? And do they truly rebuff Bachelard’s perspective? I think rather that they are complementary. They describe human realities at different levels of magnification–from the laser-like focus on the subtle perceptions of individual thinkers living with the material world in Bachelard to the Olympian scope of a Zen sage, who from a distant and dispassionate perspective looks over eons of growth, blossoming, and death in endless cycles. Both may be right, depending on how you look at things.
Although the Zen writings seem depressing, perhaps they are rather to be read as incitements to resist the inevitable! to enjoy every minute or at least accept it, out of mischief if for no other reason. Just to spite the fates, like a trickster in your own life.
four things are constant:
no world lasts forever
but will be swept away;
it is no shelter
and protects not;
one will leave everything behind
in passing to the next life;
life is incomplete
– Shuling Wu, Path to Peace, “June 17.”
I prefer the entry for June 16 instead:
one who is free
from desire and sorrow
leaves all fetters behind
to pass beyond birth and death.
like a swan rising from a lake,
he moves on in peace
never looking back.