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HIDDEN DESERT SPRING (EXCERPT)
by Yu Qiuyu (1946 - )
English translation: William Chong, Tian Qing, and Miao Guang

Behind the tree was a humble dwelling, from which, as I hesitated, emerged an old Buddhist nun. Chanting beads in her hands and a densely wrinkled but peaceful face. I intended to ask why she was alone, and why she made this place her eternal abode. How old was she upon her first arrival? Eventually, I found such inquisitions for a Buddhist practitioner too blunt and awkward.

Boundless deserts and surging rivers are no miracles to the world. Except for this particular bay amidst the heaps of sands, this quietude in the sandstorms, this scenery within the desolation, and this drop behind the high slopes. Only these can embody deeply the rhythms of heaven and earth. Only such ingenious creations can make hearts enchanted.

In this line of reasoning, the same should be applied to life,the world, and history. Remedy the hustle and bustles by a measure of serenity, restlessness by calmness, extravagance by simplicity, and coarseness by finesse. Only by doing so would life be spiritual, and only by doing so would the world appear refined, and history tasteful.

However, in our daily lives, we are accustomed to all sorts of single-sided extremes. Even the forces of nature are so vulgar that they neglect to make fine adjustments to the environment, thus burdening the world.

As such, the nun’s solitary watch becomes reasonable.

Having listened to an entire night of howling desert wind from inside her humble room, her sound faculties are immediately cleansed by the quiet morning springs. Having seen enough verdancy in the spring, what greets her eyes immediately upon raising her head would be the splendid sand cliffs.

The mountain, known as Mount Mingsha; the spring, known as Yueya Spring, both of which are located in the Dunhuang County.

── ── from Wenhua Kulu (The Agonized Journey of Culture)