Friday, March 13, 2009

Han Shan and Shi De

I read this article written in Chinese. I did not put in much effort in my second language which is Chinese while I was in school. It was hard for me to understand some of the meaning of the Chinese characters therein, however I like this article so much that I decided to copy and keep it.

As I mature and go deeper into Buddha’s teachings, I realize the profoundness in his words. The two monks in conversation were two great Bodhisattvas - Manjusri Bodhisattva (Wisdom) and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Energy). This was when they both took human forms in this world. Due to our defilement, none recognized them until they passed away.

Therefore in any holy places, be aware because you will run into people and you do not know who they are. It could be an angel or Bodhisattva you are talking to. Do you believe?

Many of us in our life journey met adversities at certain point of time. Did you ever wonder why at that point there is someone there to help you? That person could be a stranger, could be someone you met at a function, could be the regular face you met in the market but when you get out of your difficulties, these people also moved out of your life. You remember them but you do not meet them anymore. Ring a bell???

I found this article again when packing my place for renovation and it evoked my feeling that I must share it with readers. To the Buddhists, especially Chinese speaking and reading Buddhists, this article is a famous piece written about the conversation between Cold Mountain and Renounced. Cold Mountain was asking Renounced how to look at life. It is common that people look down on others who are less educated, less intelligent and poorer fellow beings. Some even abused less fortunate in term of verbal attack or even physical attack. In this intelligent conversation, Renounced cited the loving Maitriya Bodhisattva thoughts and actions when facing such obstacles. In a way, it is also educating all of us about ‘voidness’ and ‘impermanence’. It teaches us how we should look at our own Ego and letting go of it. The Chinese has a saying ‘Go back one step and you will see how wide and spacious is the sky and sea’.

I tried my best to translate this piece for the benefits of my English readers who wish to know or who happened to stumble here. May you be blessed with wisdom in your daily life and be safe where you are.

The Conversation between Cold Mountain (Manjusri Bodhisattva) and Renounced (Samantabhadra Bodhisattva) - 寒山问拾得

One day Cold Mountain asked Renounced :
If someone slanders me, bully me, laugh at me, look down on me, treat me lowly, loathe me, lie to me, how shall I manage this?

Renounced said :
Endure it, yield to it, let it be, stay away, bear it, respect it, ignore it and look at it again a few years later.

Cold Mountain asked again:
Is there any other way to avoid it?

Renounced said:
I read a poem written for Maitreya Bodhisattva. I shall recite it here for you.

(Below is the gist of my summary)

Old man (Maitriya Bodhisattva) wears a robe,He is happy with a stomach filled with simple meals. His robe is torn and tattered and he patched it up to protect himself from cold. There is nothing to worry about because everything is predestined.

If someone scold old man, old man just say 'Good'. If someone hit old man, old man just fall to the ground. Tears and mucus on my face,no need to bother as it will dry by itself,I save my energy,and he saves his anger,Paramita such as this, is a treasure to apply. If you know how to use it, you will find the Way out.

A person can be weak but not weak in courage. A person can be poor but not poor in spirit,If you decide to follow the Path, than you should use the Path as a guide. Sentient beings loves richness and fame but such things are nothing in my eyes. Name and fame are but emptiness, I do not craved for them,One may accumulate wealth like a mountain,but one cannot buy infinite with it. Sentient beings craved for tributes and gifts,Gods crave for power,Kong Ming had great wisdom and yet he could not save his master. HanXin had great merits, he died by a swing of the sword. So from past to present, how many live to a thousand? One wants to be a hero,another wants to be a great man, look at your grey hair and the wrinkled face as years go by.

Night and day shuttle by quickly, times fly by swiftly. Sickness will appear gradually and by than you will sigh, 'why did I not make use of my youth to cultivate the Path?'. When sickness comes knocking on my door, I wish I could turn back the clock. Unfortunately my time is running out and Death is at the door step. Once I lost my life force, what else can I do. I will not be able to hear gossips nor can I recognize my home. I no longer can compete with others and I cannot be the great man I wanted to be. When scolded I am not able to retaliate, when asked I am like a dumb man. When beaten I cannot hit back, when pushed I roll around. I no longer am bothered that others will laugh at me, neither am I worry about others jeering at me. I no longer worry about my reputation. When my children cried and sobbed, I no longer see them. So I struggle for name and fame what did I get but buried on a piece of land.

I looked at Sentient beings, they are good at providing lip service. I urged all to turn back and cultivate the Path. Be a Man and cut all illusions. Jump out of the fire and be a free man. If you understand the true Teachings, the Sun and Moon will always be your friends.

* End*

My translation may not do credit to this piece of profound teaching. You need to know a little about Buddha's teaching to understand this piece. It is about humility, letting go, compassion, loving-kindness, voidness, impermanence, wisdom and energy to do so. The practice here or The Way is not just the teaching of Buddhism, it is also in the teachings of many other religions as well. If someone slapped your right face, give your left face to be slapped as well. You will ask WHY? Crazy or what?! It is not an easy practice and to many of us, the Ego is bigger than 'SPACE'. What will happen if you slapped back? You will fight, probably one got kill ended in the hangman's room. Is it worth it? Therefore in this profound teaching, there is not boundary. Look at it without being bias and use your own "TEACHINGS" will see a new perspective. That is why I wanted to share...HanShan and ShiDe wise's conversation.

May all Sentient Beings be well and happy!


  1. Hi I absolutely love the photo on the top of your blog. It is very "clear" and I love the expresion of color in it.

    Well done.

  2. Oops! Colago...yup. It is water color Chinese painting. It is Meitriya Bodhistava.



    This is buddhist music from Hanshan shi ( temple). Relaxing , great for meditation.

    free to post on my blog

  4. Thank you for sharing. I will link your blog.