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SONG OF AWAKENING THE WORLD

by Hanshan Deqing (1546 - 1623, Ming Dynasty)
English translation: John Balcom

Red dust and white waves, vast and boundless;
Patience and gentleness are good ways.
Everywhere, following conditions as the years and months go on;
The time of one’s whole life spent in contentment.

Do not let the mind be ignorant,
Never making the faults of others known.
Be prudent in dealing with others and do not regret;
Work patiently and be flexible.

The string of a rigid bow will always break first, Every glance at a steel blade portends a wound.
A wagging tongue courts disaster,
A vicious heart is the cause of wrongdoing.

It is not necessary to argue if you or I are right or wrong,
Of what need is there to debate pro and con?
Since long ago, the world has had many shortcomings;
How can this illusory body be free of impermanence?

Losing once in a while will not hinder you,
There’s no harm in giving in a little.
Only in spring are the willows green,
In the autumn breeze the chrysanthemums are yellow.

In the end, fame and glory are but a midnight dream,
Wealth and honor are just as autumn frost.
Old, sick, dead, born─who will take your place?
Everyone bears his sour, sweet, bitter, and hot.

Scheming people praise cleverness,
But heaven takes its time in its decisions.
Flattery, greed and anger all lead to hell;
To be fair and upright is heaven.

The musk deer is killed because its musk is fragrant,
The more silk a silkworm spins the earlier it meets its end.
One dose of spiritual cultivation acts to settle the stomach;
Cups of peace and harmony are the two varieties of soup.

In life, the mind is vainly wasted on countless matters,
After death both hands are empty.
Joy and sorrow, parting and meeting happen every day;
Diligently pursue wealth and honor. Every day is busy.

Do not fight with others to prove your strength,
A hundred years is but a stage play.
The moment the drums and gongs go silent
You no longer know where your hometown is.

── from Lianxiu Bidu (Essential Readings for Pure Land Practitioners)