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THE ESSENTIALS OF LIFE (EXCERPT)

by Cheng Shi-yan (1945 - )
English translation: Miao Guang and Zhi Yue

I

Everyday disciplines are not just something to be talked about, but something that must be practiced and tested, as well as experienced and pursued step by step. The way one treats others, the way one carries out their daily routine, and the way one thinks and expresses emotions, should all go through trials to be established. Chan Master Dongshan Liangjie of the Tang Dynasty once said, “Actions that imitate the meaning of language are groundless; languages that define actions are also groundless.” What this means is if everyday discipline is cultivated through cognitive learning, then it will be very difficult to put into practice. From the perspective of practice, there are wonderful theories, but it is not something that can be expressed clearly in language.

II

Pay attention to your experiences, for they are the essentials of life. Like a mine of gold coming out of the ground, they are destined to create a bright future by emerging from the successes and failures in life.

III

Be free to do anything that is reasonable and right for you. Do not always think of the benefits. Do not worry about how others think of you, as your life is your own business, not someone else’s.

IV

We cannot just live for ourselves. Instead we need to strive for the benefit of all beings at the same time.
── from Renshenglu Zheme Zhou (This is How to Walk the Path of Life)and others