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THOUGHTS ON MY FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY
by Taixu (1889 - 1947)
English translation: John Balcom

I was not born at the right time, and have
one hundred worries;
This sadness and frustration has lead to many mistakes.
I left home long ago, and cut all ties with my family,
What is hard to forget? Kindnesses unrepaid.
Every birthday reminds me of my mother,
My maternal grandmother possessed rare virtue.

Having left home and entered the Sangha,
my karmic connections broadened;
Teachers, friends, and followers are
as thick as bamboo.
Witnessing the decline of Buddhism that
I tried to save,
Desiring to reform the monastic order, I wondered,
how best to proceed.

Today the nation is devastated.
The people are violated and insulted; blood and tears flow.
The world is oppressed by the flames of evil,
Afflicted with disasters, one upon another.
Propagating the Dharma, I walked the whole nation,
Traveling and teaching around the world;
The nation and the world are in dire straits.

I lead Buddhists to tour the Buddha’s country.
All the Buddha’s sons are powerful in mind and courageous,
Looking askance at wealth as if it were floating clouds.
Honest and refined, Upasaka Tan
Who brings together the cultures of India and China,
Wishes me long life on this, my birthday.

My life is but a bubble on the sea;
I wish that one bubble could lift a myriad of sufferings,
That the wishes of the people and the nation be fulfilled.
That the people of the world would stop fighting and killing,
Look at one another with compassion and throw down their weapons;
That this bubble bursts on a calm sea,
universally blissful and safe, The Buddha’s light shining throughout the universe.

── from Taixu Dashi Quanshu (The Complete Works of Master Taixu)