Saturday, October 24, 2009

Calming the Mind

Calming the Mind

Too much knowledge leads to overactivity;
Better to calm the mind.
The more your consider, the greater the loss;
Better to unify the mind.

Excessive thinking weakens the will.
The more you know, the more your mind is confused.
A confused mind gives rise to vexation.
The weakened will obstructs the Tao.

Don't say there is no harm in this;
The ensuing pain may last forever.
Don't think there is nothing to fear;
The calamities churn like bubbles in a pot.

Water dripping ceaselessly
Will fill the four seas.
Specks of dust not wiped away
Will become the five mountains.

Protect the branches to save the roots;
Though a small matter, it is not trivial.
Close the seven orifices;
Shut off the six senses.

Pay no heed to forms;
Do not listen to sounds.
Listening to sounds, you become deaf,
Observing forms you become blind.

Literature and art
Are but busy gnats in the air;
Technique and ability
A solitary lamp in the sun.

Those able and talented ones
Are really stupid fellows.
Discarding the pure and simple
They drown in too much beauty.

Consciousness is an untamed horse;
The mind is an unruly monkey.
If the spirit is overactive,
The body will sicken and die.

Wrong conduct ends in delusion;
Those treading this path become mired in the mud.
To regard ability as precious
Is called confusion.

To exaggerate clumsiness and covet skill
Does not lead to great virtue.
Of much fame but little contribution
Their reputations quickly crumble.

Merely reading books
Is of no lasting value.
Being upwardly proud
Brings the enmity of others.

Using speech
Or written words
To gain the praise of others
Is something most repulsive.

What common people regard as auspicious
The sage takes as evil.
The enjoyment gathered is fleeting
But the sorrow is everlasting.

Beware of shadows and tracks;
The farther you leave them, the better.
Sitting upright in the shade of a tree,
Neither traces nor shadows remain.

Worries of birth and distress of old age
Are products of your own thoughts.
If the mind's thinking is ended,
Birth and death are forever cut off.

Not dying, not born,
Without form or name,
The Tao is empty and tranquil.
The myriad phenomena are equal.

What is of value? What is cheap?
Where is there shame or glory?
What is excellent or inferior?
How can there by heavy or light?

The clear sky puts purity to shame.
No brightness compares to the brilliant sun.
Stable as Mount T'ai.
Steady as a golden wall.

I respectfully present this poem to all virtuous ones
So that this Tao will forever remain.

~Shih Wang Ming~
6th C., A.D.

I just finished reading an article one of my sisters sent from Slate entitled: Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous. If you're on my FB, you find the link there; if not, you can find the article here.

This poem, written so many centuries ago, ties in the with article, I think.

Click on image to enlarge it.


Jasmine said...

Now I'm really confused :)

My Mam is Budhist and lives in a huge Budhist Centre. She understands this better.

Those able and talented ones
Are really stupid fellows.
Discarding the pure and simple
They drown in too much beauty.

I did ot agree with this so much, sometimes the beauty is in simplicity, those that are able are not always makers of beauty.

Nature is complex...

I hop you are having a good weekend :)

Delphyne said...

I think this poem is mainly about about meditation and the benefits of calming the mind.

As to the mention of the "able and talented ones" - for me, it has to do with excess and the haughtiness that some artists display. For instance, some "artists" might look down at the art of felting as common, as if common is nothing to admire. I believe it is those artists with that kind of attitude that are being singled out in that stanza. Those who think their art is greater than Nature, the Muse of their art form or other art forms.

I think you speak about the artist who works from her heart and her most authentic self. That is a meditation and is more Tao than those following a technique. Not all artists do this. Unfortunately! So many times their egos get in the way of expressing art or Tao.

I'm not a Buddhist, although I like a lot of what they have to offer. Tao comes closer to my own beliefs.

And yes, Nature is complex!


Jasmine said...

I agree, people have too many pedestals these days. Everyone is god at something, we are all equal and all matter :)

Delphyne said...

Ha! When I worked in the corporate world as a manager, I used to ask my employees not to put me on a pedestal since it hurt whenever I fell off! I like my feet on the ground, thank you very much!

Nancy B. Hartley said...

Kathy, I love the idea of simplicity, and calming the mind. This is the opposite of what most people think, but during a state of confusion, or over stimulation, doing nothing can work wonders.
What a refreshing thought,thank you for reminding me! I feel like doing that right now!!

Delphyne said...

Hi, Nancy - I think that people often feel that calm and ordinary are boring. For me, they are necessary, especially here in the frantically paced East Coast!