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THIS THING CALLED LIFE

by Mo Yan (1955 - )
English translation: Miao Guang

I

In this world, it is a taboo to be perfect in every way. For example, once the moon in the sky is full, it will soon decrescent. Once the fruits on a tree ripen, they will drop and fall. In order to persist, there must always be room for deficiency.


II

There is a limit to everything; once the line is crossed, punishment is inevitable. This is a simple philosophy of life, and also a law which applies to many things in nature. It is said that Indians catch monkeys with a special wooden cage, inside which food is placed. Monkeys would then reach for the food, but once they grab onto it, they will not be able to retract their hands unless they let go of the food. Yet monkeys refuse to let go, as they lack the wisdom to do so. Nonetheless, do human beings have such wisdom? Some may be able to resist the temptations of money and lust, but still cave in to the temptations of power. There are always things that people are unable to let go of. Such are their weaknesses, and also what makes humanity so profound.


III

Fo Guang Shan is a place that gives a feeling of warmth. Coming to this place on a cold day, one will feel the warmth; if it were on a scorching hot day, one will feel the coolness.

This place should be our foremost home. The original homes we live in are houses for our physical bodies, while this particular home is one for our spirituality. It is far more important to find a spiritual home than a physical home. When a person finds spiritual solace, then all his actions will be based on a standard, ensuring that he is in accordance with the fundamentals of morality.

── from Wenxuejia De Mengxiang (A Writer’s Dream) and others