Monthly Archives: January 2009

J. Krisnamurti- Free E-Book- Freedom from the Known

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Jiddu Krishnamurti background:

(from Wikipedia article)

Jiddu Krishnamurti (Telugu: జిడ్డు కృష్ణ మూర్తి) or J. Krishnamurti (Telugu: జే . కృష్ణ మూర్తి), (May 12, 1895February 17, 1986) was a well known writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: the purpose of meditation, human relationships, the nature of the mind, and how to enact positive change in global society.

Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. In early adolescence, he had a chance encounter with prominent occultist and high-ranking theosophistC.W. Leadbeater in the grounds of the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai). He was subsequently raised under the tutelage of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, leaders of the Society at the time, who believed him to be a “vehicle” for an expected World Teacher. As a young man, he disavowed this idea and dissolved the worldwide organization (the Order of the Star) established to support it. He claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy, and spent the rest of his life traveling the world as an individual speaker, speaking to large and small groups, as well as with interested individuals. He authored a number of books, among them The First and Last Freedom, The Only Revolution, and Krishnamurti’s Notebook. In addition, a large collection of his talks and discussions have been published. At age 90, he addressed the United Nations on the subject of peace and awareness, and was awarded the 1984 UN Peace Medal. His last public talk was in Madras, India, in January 1986, a month before his death at home in Ojai, California.

His supporters, working through several non-profit foundations, oversee a number of independent schools centered on his views on education – in India, Great Britain and the United States – and continue to transcribe and distribute many of his thousands of talks, group and individual discussions, and other writings, publishing them in a variety of formats including print, audio, video and digital formats as well as online, in many languages.

Download entire book (public domain), doc format:

jkrishnamurti-freedomfromtheknown

Excerpt: Chaper 1

Chapter 1

Man has throughout the ages been seeking something beyond himself, beyond material welfare – something we call truth or God or reality, a timeless state – something that cannot be disturbed by circumstances, by thought or by human corruption.

Man has always asked the question: what is it all about? Has life any meaning at all? He sees the enormous confusion of life, the brutalities, the revolt, the wars, the endless divisions of religion, ideology and nationality, and with a sense of deep abiding frustration he asks, what is one to do, what is this thing we call living, is there anything beyond it?

And not finding this nameless thing of a thousand names which he has always sought, he has cultivated faith – faith in a saviour or an ideal – and faith invariably breeds violence.

In this constant battle which we call living, we try to set a code of conduct according to the society in which we are brought up, whether it be a Communist society or a so-called free society; we accept a standard of behaviour as part of our tradition as Hindus or Muslims or Christians or whatever we happen to be. We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic. We can observe this very easily in ourselves.

For centuries we have been spoon-fed by our teachers, by our authorities, by our books, our saints. We say, ‘Tell me all about it – what lies beyond the hills and the mountains and the earth?’ and we are satisfied with their descriptions, which means that we live on words and our life is shallow and empty. We are secondhand people. We have lived on what we have been told, either guided by our inclinations, our tendencies, or compelled to accept by circumstances and environment. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear.

Throughout theological history we have been assured by religious leaders that if we perform certain rituals, repeat certain prayers or mantras, conform to certain patterns, suppress our desires, control our thoughts, sublimate our passions, limit our appetites and refrain from sexual indulgence, we shall, after sufficient torture of the mind and body, find something beyond this little life. And that is what millions of so-called religious people have done through the ages, either in isolation, going off into the desert or into the mountains or a cave or wandering from village to village with a begging bowl, or, in a group, joining a monastery, forcing their minds to conform to an established pattern. But a tortured mind, a broken mind, a mind which wants to escape from all turmoil, which has denied the outer world and been made dull through dis- cipline and conformity – such a mind, however long it seeks, will find only according to its own distortion.

So to discover whether there actually is or is not something beyond this anxious, guilty, fearful, competitive existence, it seems to me that one must have a completely different approach altogether. The traditional approach is from the periphery inwards, and through time, practice and renunciation, gradually to come upon that inner flower, that inner beauty and love – in fact to do everything to make oneself narrow, petty and shoddy; peel off little by little; take time; tomorrow will do, next life will do – and when at last one comes to the centre one finds there is nothing there, because one’s mind has been made incapable, dull and insensitive.

Having observed this process, one asks oneself, is there not a different approach altogether – that is, is it not possible to explode from the centre?

The world accepts and follows the traditional approach. The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another; we mechanically follow somebody who will assure us a comfortable spiritual life. It is a most extraordinary thing that although most of us are opposed to political tyranny and dictatorship, we inwardly accept the authority, the tyranny, of another to twist our minds and our way of life. So fl we completely reject, not intellectually but actually, all so-called spiritual authority, all ceremonies, rituals and dogmas, it means that we stand alone and are already in conflict with society; we cease to be respectable human beings. A respectable human being cannot possibly come near to that infinite, immeasurable, reality.

You have now started by denying something absolutely false – the traditional approach – but if you deny it as a reaction you will have created another pattern in which you will be trapped; if you tell yourself intellectually that this denial is a very good idea but do nothing about it, you cannot go any further. If you deny it however, because you understand the stupidity and immaturity of it, if you reject it with tremendous intelligence, because you are free and not frightened, you will create a great disturbance in yourself and around you but you will step out of the trap of respectability. Then you will find that you are no longer seeking. That is the first thing to learn – not to seek. When you seek you are really only window-shopping.

The question of whether or not there is a God or truth or reality, or whatever you like to call it, can never be answered by books, by priests, philosophers or saviours. Nobody and nothing can answer the question but you yourself and that is why you must know yourself. Immaturity lies only in total ignorance of self. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.

And what is yourself, the individual you? I think there is a difference between the human being and the individual. The individual is a local entity, living in a particular country, belonging to a particular culture, particular society, particular religion. The human being is not a local entity. He is everywhere. If the individual merely acts in a particular corner of the vast field of life, then his action is totally unrelated to the whole. So one has to bear in mind that we are talking of the whole not the part, because in the greater the lesser is, but in the lesser the greater is not. The individual is the little conditioned, miserable, frustrated entity, satisfied with his little gods and his little traditions, whereas a human being is concerned with the total welfare, the total misery and total confusion of the world.

We human beings are what we have been for millions of years – -colossally greedy, envious, aggressive, jealous, anxious and despairing, with occasional flashes of joy and affection. We are a strange mixture of hate, fear and gentleness; we are both violence and peace. There has been outward progress from the bullock cart to the jet plane but psychologically the individual has not changed at all, and the structure of society throughout the world has been created by individuals. The outward social structure is the result of the inward psychological structure of our human relationships, for the individual is the result of the total experience, knowledge and conduct of man. Each one of us is the storehouse of all the past. The individual is the human who is all mankind. The whole history of man is written in ourselves.

Do observe what is actually taking place within yourself and outside yourself in the competitive culture in which you live with its desire for power, position, prestige, name, success and all the rest of it – observe the achievements of which you are so proud, this whole field you call living in which there is conflict in every form of relationship, breeding hatred, antagonism, brutality and endless wars. This field, this life, is all we know, and being unable to understand the enormous battle of existence we are naturally afraid of it and find escape from it in all sorts of subtle ways. And we are frightened also of the unknown – frightened of death, frightened of what lies beyond tomorrow. So we are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope, and therefore every form of philosophy, every form of theo- logical concept, is merely an escape from the actual reality of what is.

All outward forms of change brought about by wars, revolutions, reformations, laws and ideologies have failed completely to change the basic nature of man and therefore of society. As human beings living in this monstrously ugly world, let us ask ourselves, can this society, based on competition, brutality and fear, come to an end? Not as an intellectual conception, not as a hope, but as an actual fact, so that the mind is made fresh, new and innocent and can bring about a different world altogether? It can only happen, I think, if each one of us recognises the central fact that we, as individuals, as human beings, in whatever part of the world we happen to live or whatever culture we happen to belong to, are totally responsible for the whole state of the world.

We are each one of us responsible for every war because of the aggressiveness of our own lives, because of our nationalism, our selfishness, our gods, our prejudices, our ideals, all of which divide us. And only when we realize, not intellectually but actually, as actually as we would recognise that we are hungry or in pain, that you and I are responsible for all this existing chaos, for all the misery throughout the entire world because we have contributed to it in our daily lives and are part of this monstrous society with its wars, divisions, its ugliness, brutality and greed – only then will we act.

But what can a human being do – what can you and I do – to create a completely different society? We are asking ourselves a very serious question. Is there anything to be done at all? What can we do? Will somebody tell us? People have told us. The so-called spiritual leaders, who are supposed to understand these things better than we do, have told us by trying to twist and mould us into a new pattern, and that hasn’t led us very far; sophisticated and learned men have told us and that has led us no further. We have been told that all paths lead to truth – you have your path as a Hindu and someone else has his path as a Christian and another as a Muslim, and they all meet at the same door – which is, when you look at it, so obviously absurd. Truth has no path, and that is the beauty of truth, it is living. A dead thing has a path to it because it is static, but when you see that truth is something living, moving, which has no resting place, which is in no temple, mosque or church, which no religion, no teacher, no philosopher, nobody can lead you to – then you will also see that this living thing is what you actually are – your anger, your brutality, your violence, your despair, the agony and sorrow you live in. In the understanding of all this is the truth, and you can understand it only if you know how to look at those things in your life. And you cannot look through an ideology, through a screen of words, through hopes and fears.

So you see that you cannot depend upon anybody. There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you – your relationship with others and with the world – there is nothing else. When you realize this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else is responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.

Can you and I, then, bring about in ourselves without any outside influence, without any persuasion, without any fear of punishment – can we bring about in the very essence of our being a total revolution, a psychological mutation, so that we are no longer brutal, violent, competitive, anxious, fearful, greedy, envious and all the rest of the manifestations of our nature which have built up the rotten society in which we live our daily lives?

It is important to understand from the very beginning that I am not formulating any philosophy or any theological structure of ideas or theological concepts. It seems to me that all ideologies are utterly idiotic. What is important is not a philosophy of life but to observe what is actually taking place in our daily life, inwardly and outwardly. If you observe very closely what is taking place and examine it, you will see that it is based on an intellectual conception, and the intellect is not the whole field of existence; it is a fragment, and a fragment, however cleverly put together, however ancient and traditional, is still a small part of existence whereas we have to deal with the totality of life. And when we look at what is taking place in the world we begin to understand that there is no outer and inner process; there is only one unitary process, it is a whole, total movement, the inner movement expressing itself as the outer and the outer reacting again on the inner. To be able to look at this seems to me all that is needed, because if we know how to look, then the whole thing becomes very clear, and to look needs no philosophy, no teacher. Nobody need tell you how to look. You just look.

Can you then, seeing this whole picture, seeing it not verbally but actually, can you easily, spontaneously, transform yourself? That is the real issue. Is it possible to bring about a complete revolution in the psyche?

I wonder what your reaction is to such a question? You may say, ‘I don’t want to change’, and most people don’t, especially those who are fairly secure socially and economically or who hold dogmatic beliefs and are content to accept themselves and things as they are or in a slightly modified form. With those people we are not concerned. Or you may say more subtly, ‘Well, it’s too difficult, it’s not for me’, in which case you will have already blocked yourself, you will have ceased to enquire and it will be no use going any further. Or else you may say, ‘I see the necessity for a fundamental inward change in myself but how am I to bring it about? Please show me the way, help me towards it.’ If you say that, then what you are concerned with is not change itself; you are not really interested in a fundamental revolution: you are merely searching for a method, a system, to bring about change.

If I were foolish enough to give you a system and if you were foolish enough to follow it, you would merely be copying, imitating, conforming, accepting, and when you do that you have set up in yourself the authority of another and hence there is conflict between you and that authority. You feel you must do such and such a thing because you have been told to do it and yet you are incapable of doing it. You have your own particular inclinations, tendencies and pressures which conflict with the system you think you ought to follow and therefore there is a contradiction. So you will lead a double life between the ideology of the system and the actuality of your daily existence. In trying to conform to the ideology, you suppress yourself – whereas what is actually true is not the ideology but what you are. If you try to study yourself according to another you will always remain a secondhand human being.

A man who says, ‘I want to change, tell me how to’, seems very earnest, very serious, but he is not. He wants an authority whom he hopes will bring about order in himself. But can authority ever bring about inward order? Order imposed from without must always breed disorder. You may see the truth of this intellectually but can you actually apply it so that your mind no longer projects any authority, the authority of a book, a teacher, a wife or husband, a parent, a friend or of society? Because we have always functioned within the pattern of a formula, the formula becomes the ideology and the authority; but the moment you really see that the question, ‘How can I change?’ sets up a new authority, you have finished with authority for ever.

Let us state it again clearly: I see that I must change completely from the roots of my being; I can no longer depend on any tradition because tradition has brought about this colossal laziness, acceptance and obedience; I cannot possibly look to another to help me to change, not to any teacher, any God, any belief, any system, any outside pressure or influence. What then takes place?

First of all, can you reject all authority? If you can it means that you are no longer afraid. Then what happens? When you reject something false which you have been carrying about with you for generations, when you throw off a burden of any kind, what takes place? You have more energy, haven’t you? You have more capacity, more drive, greater intensity and vitality. If you do not feel this, then you have not thrown off the burden, you have not discarded the dead weight of authority.

But when you have thrown it off and have this energy in which there is no fear at all – no fear of making a mistake, no fear of doing right or wrong – then is not that energy itself the mutation? We need a tremendous amount of energy and we dissipate it through fear but when there is this energy which comes from throwing off every form of fear, that energy itself produces the radical inward revolution. You do not have to do a thing about it.

So you are left with yourself, and that is the actual state for a man to be who is very serious about all this; and as you are no longer looking to anybody or anything for help, you are already free to discover. And when there is freedom, there is energy; and when there is freedom it can never do anything wrong. Freedom is entirely different from revolt. There is no such thing as doing right or wrong when there is freedom. You are free and from that centre you act. And hence there is no fear, and a mind that has no fear is capable of great love. And when there is love it can do what it will.

What we are now going to do, therefore, is to learn about ourselves, not according to me or to some analyst or philosopher – because if we learn about ourselves according to someone else, we learn about them, not ourselves – we are going to learn what we actually are.

Having realized that we can depend on no outside authority in bringing about a total revolution within the structure of our own psyche, there is the immensely greater difficulty of rejecting our own inward authority, the authority of our own particular little experiences and accumulated opinions, knowledge, ideas and ideals. You had an experience yesterday which taught you something and what it taught you becomes a new authority – and that authority of yesterday is as destructive as the authority of a thousand years. To understand ourselves needs no authority either of yesterday or of a thousand years because we are living

things, always moving, flowing, never resting. When we look at ourselves with the dead authority of yesterday, we will fail to understand the living movement and the beauty and quality of that movement.

To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.

So now we are going to investigate ourselves together – not one person explaining while you read, agreeing or disagreeing with him as you follow the words on the page, but taking a journey together, a journey of discovery into the most secret corners of our minds. And to take such a journey we must travel light; we cannot be burdened with opinions, prejudices and conclusions – all that old furniture we have collected for the last two thousand years and more. Forget all you know about yourself; forget all you have ever thought about yourself; we are going to start as if we knew nothing.

It rained last night heavily, and now the skies are beginning to clear; it is a new fresh day. Let us meet that fresh day as if it were the only day. Let us start on our journey together with all the remembrance of yesterday left behind – and begin to understand ourselves for the first time.

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Sadhana- The Realization of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

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At long last, I’ve come across an audio of

Sadhana- The Realization of Life

by Rabindranath Tagore

(the most popular post ever on this blog-

go here for the complete e-book download).

Now, I have the LibriVox, public domain audio book-

easier to read than a computer monitor.

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Special Bonus! Multi-lingual Tagore Poetry Jam!

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rabi140028viLook around on this site- I have many complete downloads of Tagore’s work-

including Gitanjali, my personal favorite poetry collection.

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tagore-straybirds(above- Stray Birds poem in the author’s hand. Stray Birds is available elsewhere on this site)

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Not Dalai Lama- Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

It has been brought to my attention- a comment below is re-printed here- that this is not Dalai Lama. So, ignore all reference to Dalai Lama. The rest is okay, I think.

Michael Robinson

Sorry to say, but this was not the Dalai Lama chanting, but was a recording done by a Dutch performer called Hein Braat, and the original can be bought as a CD. It’s an urban myth which has been doing the tour for 20 years (but you’re by all means not alone in believing it!).

That doesn’t take away from just how special a piece of music it is, but the chant is from the Veda, which is not buddhist, but hindu. Tri-ambaka-m is the three-eyed one e.g. Lord Shiva.

The original recording by Hein Braat can be heard at the following link. Credit where it’s due, as he has an amazing voice.

http://heinbraat.com/27/discography-cds/

Instructions:

Close your eyes, listen. Feel your heart beating,

your breath rising and falling. Do nothing.

dahli-lama-maha-mrityunjaya-mantra

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Maha Mritvuniava Mantra

Om Tryambakam yajamah

Sugandhim pushti vardhanam

Urvarukamiva bondhanan

Mrityor mukshiya mamritat

 

Translation: I meditate on, and surrender myself to, the Divine Being who embodies the power of will, the power of knowledge, and the power of action. I pray to the Divine Being who manifests in the form of fragrance in the flower of life and is the eternal nourisher of the plant of life. like a skillful gardener, may the Lord of Life disentangle me from the binding forces of my physical, psychological, and spiritual foes. May the lord of Immortality residing within me free me from death, decay and sickness and unite me with immortality.

 

Explanation: This is a healing and nourishing mantra and is in a sense, “the Heart of Vedas.” The healing force awakened by this mantra sends forth its

ripples from body to psyche and from psyche to soul. It strengthens our powers of will, knowledge and action, thus unblocking the flow of enthusiasm, courage and determination. The vibration of this mantra awakens the internal healing force while attracting nature’s healing agents, creating an environment where the forces from both origins converge. This mantra connects us to the healer within and helps us receive the full nourishment from food, herbs, or any discipline undertaken for our total well being.

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Don Miguel Ruiz

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Those who know where to look may find…

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Tang Dynasty Poems, Part 4

4th in projected set of 10

This week’s edition, short but sweet,

will be selections from Wei Yingwu and Li Bai.

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Wei Yingwu

ENTERTAINING LITERARY MEN IN MY
OFFICIAL RESIDENCE ON A RAINY DAY


Outside are insignia, shown in state;
But here are sweet incense-clouds, quietly ours.
Wind and rain, coming in from sea,
Have cooled this pavilion above the lake
And driven the feverish heat away
From where my eminent guests are gathered.
…Ashamed though I am of my high position
While people lead unhappy lives,
Let us reasonably banish care
And just be friends, enjoying nature.
Though we have to go without fish and meat,
There are fruits and vegetables aplenty.
…We bow, we take our cups of wine,
We give our attention to beautiful poems.
When the mind is exalted, the body is lightened
And feels as if it could float in the wind.
…Suzhou is famed as a centre of letters;
And all you writers, coming here,
Prove that the name of a great land
Is made by better things than wealth.

 

Wei Yingwu

SETTING SAIL ON THE YANGZI waterlilies
TO SECRETARY YUAN


Wistful, away from my friends and kin,
Through mist and fog I float and float
With the sail that bears me toward Loyang.
In Yangzhou trees linger bell-notes of evening,
Marking the day and the place of our parting….
When shall we meet again and where?
…Destiny is a boat on the waves,
Borne to and fro, beyond our will.

Wei Yingwu

A POEM TO A TAOIST HERMIT
CHUANJIAO MOUNTAIN


My office has grown cold today;
And I suddenly think of my mountain friend
Gathering firewood down in the valley
Or boiling white stones for potatoes in his hut….
I wish I might take him a cup of wine
To cheer him through the evening storm;
But in fallen leaves that have heaped the bare slopes,
How should I ever find his footprints!

 

Wei Yingwu

ON MEETING MY FRIEND FENG ZHU
IN THE CAPITAL


Out of the east you visit me,
With the rain of Baling still on your clothes,
I ask you what you have come here for;
You say: “To buy an ax for cutting wood in the mountains”
…Hidden deep in a haze of blossom,
Swallow fledglings chirp at ease
As they did when we parted, a year ago….
How grey our temples have grown since them!

Wei Yingwu

MOORING AT TWILIGHT IN YUYI DISTRICT


Furling my sail near the town of Huai,
I find for harbour a little cove
Where a sudden breeze whips up the waves.
The sun is growing dim now and sinks in the dusk.
People are coming home. The bright mountain-peak darkens.
Wildgeese fly down to an island of white weeds.
…At midnight I think of a northern city-gate,
And I hear a bell tolling between me and sleep. 517-149x567

 

Wei Yingwu

EAST OF THE TOWN


From office confinement all year long,
I have come out of town to be free this morning
Where willows harmonize the wind
And green hills lighten the cares of the world.
I lean by a tree and rest myself
Or wander up and down a stream.
…Mists have wet the fragrant meadows;
A spring dove calls from some hidden place.
…With quiet surroundings, the mind is at peace,
But beset with affairs, it grows restless again….
Here I shall finally build me a cabin,
As Tao Qian built one long ago.

 

Wei Yingwu

TO MY DAUGHTER
ON HER MARRIAGE INTO THE YANG FAMILY


My heart has been heavy all day long
Because you have so far to go.
The marriage of a girl, away from her parents,
Is the launching of a little boat on a great river.
…You were very young when your mother died,
Which made me the more tender of you.
Your elder sister has looked out for you,
And now you are both crying and cannot part.
This makes my grief the harder to bear;
Yet it is right that you should go.
…Having had from childhood no mother to guide you,
How will you honour your mother-in-law?
It’s an excellent family; they will be kind to you,
They will forgive you your mistakes —
Although ours has been so pure and poor
That you can take them no great dowry.
Be gentle and respectful, as a woman should be,
Careful of word and look, observant of good example.
…After this morning we separate,
There’s no knowing for how long….
I always try to hide my feelings —
They are suddenly too much for me,
When I turn and see my younger daughter
With the tears running down her cheek.

 

Li Bai

THE MOON AT THE FORTIFIED PASS


The bright moon lifts from the Mountain of Heaven
In an infinite haze of cloud and sea,
And the wind, that has come a thousand miles,
Beats at the Jade Pass battlements….
China marches its men down Baideng Road
While Tartar troops peer across blue waters of the bay….
And since not one battle famous in history
Sent all its fighters back again,
The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,
And think of home, with wistful eyes,
And of those tonight in the upper chambers
Who toss and sigh and cannot rest.

Li Bai

BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SPRING


The lovely Lo Fo of the western land
Plucks mulberry leaves by the waterside.
Across the green boughs stretches out her white hand;
In golden sunshine her rosy robe is dyed.
“my silkworms are hungry, I cannot stay.
Tarry not with your five-horse cab, I pray.”

 

Li Bai

BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER


On Mirror Lake outspread for miles and miles,
The lotus lilies in full blossom teem.
In fifth moon Xi Shi gathers them with smiles,
Watchers o’erwhelm the bank of Yuoye Stream.
Her boat turns back without waiting moonrise
To yoyal house amid amorous sighs.

 

Li Bai

A SONG OF AN AUTUMN MIDNIGHT


A slip of the moon hangs over the capital;
Ten thousand washing-mallets are pounding;
And the autumn wind is blowing my heart
For ever and ever toward the Jade Pass….
Oh, when will the Tartar troops be conquered,
And my husband come back from the long campaign!

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Li Bai

BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: WINTER


The courier will depart next day, she’s told.
She sews a warrior’s gown all night.
Her fingers feel the needle cold.
How can she hold the scissors tight?
The work is done, she sends it far away.
When will it reach the town where warriors stay?

 

 

Li Bai

A SONG OF CHANGGAN


My hair had hardly covered my forehead.
I was picking flowers, paying by my door,
When you, my lover, on a bamboo horse,
Came trotting in circles and throwing green plums.
We lived near together on a lane in Ch’ang-kan,
Both of us young and happy-hearted.
…At fourteen I became your wife,
So bashful that I dared not smile,
And I lowered my head toward a dark corner
And would not turn to your thousand calls;
But at fifteen I straightened my brows and laughed,
Learning that no dust could ever seal our love,
That even unto death I would await you by my post
And would never lose heart in the tower of silent watching.
…Then when I was sixteen, you left on a long journey
Through the Gorges of Ch’u-t’ang, of rock and whirling water.
And then came the Fifth-month, more than I could bear,
And I tried to hear the monkeys in your lofty far-off sky.
Your footprints by our door, where I had watched you go,
Were hidden, every one of them, under green moss,
Hidden under moss too deep to sweep away.
And the first autumn wind added fallen leaves.
And now, in the Eighth-month, yellowing butterflies
Hover, two by two, in our west-garden grasses
And, because of all this, my heart is breaking
And I fear for my bright cheeks, lest they fade.
…Oh, at last, when you return through the three Pa districts,
Send me a message home ahead!
And I will come and meet you and will never mind the distance,
All the way to Chang-feng Sha.

 

libai2

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Don Berry and the Darsana Mala

First, maybe you should stop reading this

and go directly to Don Berry’s website here.

Who is Don Berry? From Wikipedia:

Don Berry (1931-2001) was an American artist and author best known for his historical novels early settlers in the Oregon Country.

He was born in Minnesota but moved to Oregon as a young man and came to think of himself as a native of that state. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. During college his housemates included the poet Gary Snyder, who shared Berry’s interest in Eastern metaphysics.

In 1960 he published Trask, a historical novel about Elbridge Trask, an Oregon settler in the 1840s who was the first white homesteader on Tillamook Bay. It was followed by two sequels, Moontrap and To Build a Ship. The novels have collectively become known as the “Trask novels.” His other works include A Majority of Scoundrels, a history of the fur trade in the Rocky Mountains. Besides writing, his lifelong artistic pursuits included bronze sculpture, sumi painting, and blues guitar playing.

Berry was also an early adopter of the use of the Internet for writing, creating a large body of literature that exists only in cyberspace.

berry1

My experience of Don Berry was limited to enjoying his 3 published novels set in the Oregon Territory, books he wrote early in his career. My favorite was the book Trask- a very moving and spiritually stimulating story based on the life of an Oregon trader who opened up the the area now known as Tillamook to white trade with the native people there. Grab that book and read it.

I was pleased to find recently that Berry, before he died a few years back, put up a website with all of his later work, all available for free. It is a treasure trove. To get you hooked on Berry I am going to re-print a portion of his translation of Darsana Mala- a mystical poem from India previously unavailable in the west. Berry’s rendition is beautiful, stunning and goes straight to the heart.

The poem is also a clear explanation of the philosophy of Tantra Yoga, very similar to what I was taught as a young man initiated into meditation. It resonates with me and with the teachings I received when I was 16-28 years old.

What follows is first the section titled Provenance- which explains his interest in the poem and some background. Next I will share the first 3 chapters. For more you have to go to Berry’s site, the link at the top of this post.

The Darsana Mala, or Garland of Visions, was one of the last major works of Narayana Guru, dictated about 1916. His disciple, Swami Vidyananda, transcribed the dictation and made a short commentary on each verse. The commentary was read to, and corrected by, Narayana himself, though he characterized it as being “for children.”

The original dictation was in Sanskrit, but the work was published only in the Malayalam language of Kerala State, S. India, Narayana’s home. In 1976 an English translation was included in AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE POEMS OF NARAYANA GURU, published by the Narayana Gurukula in Kerala.

natarajaguru

Narayana Guru’s successor was Nataraja Guru. At Narayana’s instigation, Nataraja received a Western education at the Sorbonne as well as his training in the ancient wisdom-school represented by Narayana himself. in 1948-49 Nataraja Guru undertook the translation of the Darsana Mala into English, and it was this translation included in the ANTHOLOGY. Nataraja Guru also made the Darsana Mala the philosophical frame-work for his own monumental work, the three- volume INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE, which he completed in 1968. At this writing one volume has been published in Kerala, and the other two are in preparation.

Shortly after Nataraja Guru’s death in 1973, four notebooks were discovered in his quarters at the Ooty Gurukula in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamilnadu. Nos. II & III were his working notes from 1948-49, and contained all the trial translations and corrections of the Darsana Mala, except for the first seven stanzas of Chapter VI, the Karma Darsana. These notebooks were edited and put into typescript by Mark and Judy Albert. They contain anywhere from two to fifteen variations on each stanza.

Sources used in preparing these English prose renderings were: Vol. I, INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE, containing word-notes, translation, and the Vidyananda Commentary on Chapters I-III. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE DARSANA MALA, (manuscript) by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, successor to Nataraja Guru and current Guru of the Narayana Gurukula, for translation, word-notes and commentary on Chapters IV & V. For Chapters VI & VII, word-notes and translations in Nataraja’s hand, written on the back of academic papers in 1948-49. A typescript of the Vidyananda Commentary with word-notes for Chapters VIII-X. For the complete work, the Nataraja Notebooks, v. II & III as noted above.

For the most part these source materials were obtained for me through the kindness of the American sadhu/ scholar Johnny Stallings, long time student and companion to both Nataraja Guru anatarajaguruandfriendsnd Guru Nitya.

For many years I have been indebted to Guru Nitya for his unfailing friendship and generosity in making available to me his own works, as well as those of his predecessors in the parampara. My deepest gratitude to him.

These renderings were made by Don Berry in the Fall of 1979 for the meditation of his son, Duncan.


AUM TAT SAT

CHAPTER ONE

Adhyaropa Darsana / Metaphors of Creation

1

At its origin this world

existed as nothingness, dreamlike.

Thereafter the Absolute Being created

everything existent by willing.

2

At its origin this world

existed as latent function.

Thereafter the Absolute Being created everything

through his own power of MAYA,

like a magician creating an illusion.

3

At its origin this world

was latent in the Absolute Being

as a sprout is latent in a seed.

Thereafter it manifested itself of its own power.

4

This power is to be known as two kinds,

brightness and heaviness. As in the case of light and dark,

they are polar opposites,and there is no co-existence.

5

At its origin this world

was like a picture in the mind.

Thereafter the Absolute Being realized it

in all its variety, like an artist.

6

At its origin this world existed as PRAKRITI, the matrix of possibility.

Thereafter the Absolute Being worked out its powers like a Yogi.

7

When knowledge of the Absolute Self is veiled, AVIDYA (ignorance)

arises. Then the name-and-form world looms ghostlike.

8

This world is emptiness, like some ghostly city.

Thus did the Absolute Being create

this whole universe — a marvel!

9

If this world evolved in a series of stages

from the sun, then it is not at all from the Supreme Self.

But everything was manifested at a single stroke,

of its own inner vitality, as though

the universe were waking from sleep.

10

That from which all this world

is manifested like a fig tree from a seed,

That is Brahma, That is Siva, That is Vishnu.

That is the Transcendent.

Indeed, everything is That alone.

CHAPTER TWO

Apavada Darsana / Logic of Causality

1

This world, material, non-material and spiritual,

has all come to be in and from living intelligence.

When existent, everything is Real as Being (SAT).

When non-existent, everything remains Real as Intelligence (CIT).

2

An effect cannot have existence independent of its cause.

Therefore, how can there be an origination of non-Being?

And how can there be re-absorption

of something un-originated?

3

That which is not subject to origin and re-absorption

is the transcendent Absolute alone.

The idea of origin and re-absorption as present in the Self

is the veiling effect of MAYA.

4

As the effect is non-different from its cause,

how can Being arise? And in the same way,

how can there be non-Being for the cause itself?

5

Because it is an effect, this world

does not have primary reality.

The Absolute alone, as cause, is Real.

Unclear minds mistake it as un-Real.

6

The One Alone is the Real.

Where can another exist?

If we say “in existence,” it is a tautology.

If we say “in non-existence,” it is a contradiction.

7

Having carefully analyzed the component parts of existence,

one sees that the whole world is not other

than the Intelligence of the Absolute.

It is as if MAYA had been banished.

8

Pure Intelligence alone shines.

There is nothing whatever beyond Pure Intelligence.

That which does not shine is un-Real,

and that which is un-Real does not shine.

9

ANANDA indeed is the Real, and nothing else.

The whole world is of the form of ANANDA.

Apart from ANANDA, nothing else exists.

10

Indeed, everything is SAT-CIT-ANANDA.

(Being, Intelligence, Value.)

There is not a trace of plurality in this.

He who sees this as if pluralistic,

goes from death to death.

CHAPTER THREE

Asatya Darsana / The Illusion of the un-Real

1

This world is all mind-maya.

But the mind is not in any specific place.

The world is seen in the Self

as the blue is seen in the sky.

2

This apparent world is an image, created in the mind

by AVIDYA, the veiling ignorance.

When this is re-absorbed by VIDYA, the clear knowledge,

it is as though the whole world were a mere configuration.

3

To a coward, the ghost looming in the darkness seems real.

To the wise man, the wakeful state is seen

as such a dream-world.

4

This world is seen as willed images.

It is seen only when willing is present,

as when a rope is mistaken for a snake.

5

There is no difference whatever

between the willed images and the mind.

That AVIDYA-darkness state (which is the mind),

is a marvel like Indra’s magic.

6

To the wise man, this world shines in the Self like a mirage.

To an infant, by confusion, even a reflection

may seem real.

7

As milk remains milk even when churned,

The Absolute Self does not change into some other form.

Therefore, the whole world exists only as an image in the Self,

as if created by Indra’s magic. (Indriyas = the senses.)

8

MAYA herself is the fundamental cause of the apparent world.

Everything here is only the maya-maker

creating with magical, un-Real effects.

9

To the mature mind, this universe

seems like a sky-forest mirage in the Self.

But a child sees even a puppet-form as real.

10

One alone is Real, not a second.

What is un-Real seems indeed to be Real.

But the Siva-lingam is stone only,

not a second made by the mason.

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Radio Program- Mad Liberation by Moonlight

Mad Liberation By

MoonLight

 

 

This Friday! On KBOO Radio 90.7 FM

1- 2 a.m. Late Friday night

(yes, I know that it is technically Saturday morning-

relax, it’s just a radio show)

January 16th, 2009

 

 radio-tower-225

This show is dedicated to Everyone

*who has ever been given a psychiatric label *who experiences mental health challenges

And, of course, to

*anybody who has the misfortune (or good fortune) of being awake at that hour

 

You can participate!

Call in at (503) 231-8187

 

Special guests are anticipated! How about you?

moonwink

Aren’t you special? Better call in.

 (Set your alarm if you aren’t usually up at that time or write an email to fullmoonradio@yahoo.com)

 

Friday nights from 1 am to 2 am usually following the full-moon, will be a segment on KBOO radio (90.7 on your fm dial, to the left of NPR), also streamed on the internet on their website, http://www.kboo.fm/index.php will be time for of Mad Lib by Moonlight. The program is part of the usual Friday night show, The Outside World. Shows are no archived in mp3 format at

https://rickpdx.wordpress.com/mad-liberation-by-moonlight-archives/

 

Updates can also be found on my website, https://rickpdx.wordpress.com/ on the interweb & at http://fullmoonradio.wordpress.com/

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Goodnight Bird

My bird, Daisy, died yesterday. I loved “that stupid bird” (as she was known by everyone in the family but me). We don’t know why she died. She was only 6 years old- very young for a parrot. She has been eating fine, has been more well behaved than usual lately.

I raised Daisy, hand fed her when she was a baby chick. She thought I was her mother.

When I was out of work I spent a lot of time with her. Lately I realize how much I relied on her for support. Over the past 6 years she has also been with me regularly at my jobs when I was working. In my new job she couldn’t come with me and she had to spend a lot more time by herself than she was used to. She was mad at me and had some behavior problems related to being by herself (parrots are very emotional animals). So I have given her lots of attention when I’m home and got into the habit of making sure she spent time with me before I went to work- which required me to get up a half an hour earlier (my job involves a vanpool commute that has me out of the house by 5:45 am and home around 7 pm).
The last week or so she seemed to be adjusting. She has been happier.
The night before last she was so sweet. She was especially affectionate, wanted her head rubbed but not being obnoxious at all. She talked up a storm, mostly “Hi!” or “Hello Bird! Are you a bird?” or about being a good bird, a pretty bird or asking questions of a similar nature (are you a good bird? are you a pretty bird?) and near bedtime she spent some time singing in her tone deaf way “I love love love good daisy bird, daisy is a pretty good girl, love love love”.
I always loved the songs she made up when she was sleepy- they were so bad.
Then yesterday morning when I got up at 4:30 she was dead.

I’ve realized that I was very used to having her around.

I loved that stupid bird.

goodnight-bird

(click if the picture doesn’t animate)

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Part 3- Poems of the T’ang Dynasty (Han Shan)

I’ve talked myself into doing chunks of this that  have some commonality. Today I’ve culled poems attributed to Han Shan, poet-mystic of the early T’ang. First, excerpts from the wikipedia article about Han Shan (for the full article go here):

Hanshan (Chinese: 寒山; pinyin: Hánshān; literally “Cold Mountain”, fl. 9th century) was a legendary figure associated with a collection of poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the Taoist and Chan tradition. He is honored as an incarnation of the Bodhisattva -figure Manjusri in Zen lore. In Japanese and Chinese paintings he is often depicted together with his sidekick ShideFenggan another monk with legendary attributes.

The collection of poems attributed to Hanshan may span the entire Tang Dynasty as Edwin G. Pulleyblank asserts in his study Linguistic Evidence for the Date of Hanshan.[1] identifies him as the monk Chiyan (智岩, 577 – 654), but that has been disputed by Paul Demiéville among others. The Encyclopedia of China gives his date as around 712 and after 793. Jia Jinhua came to the conclusion, after a study of Chan phrases in some 50 of the poems, that this particular group of poems may be attributable to the Chan monk Caoshan Benji (840-901).

Personally, I think a great place to start is the collection of Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder, one of the great beatnik era poets often associated with other poets and writers of that cultural phenomenon. Snyder was a very complimentary voice to bring Han Shan to America. Without further ado, I’ll just insert the Snyder Cold Mountain Poems here:

HAN SHAN, THE COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS, tr. Gary Snyder

Preface to the Poems of Han-shan

by Lu Ch’iu-yin, Governor of T’ai Prefecture

No one knows what sort of man Han-shan was. There are old people who knew him: they say he was a poor man, a crazy character. He lived alone seventy Li (23 miles) west of the T’ang-hsing district of T’ien-t’ai at a place called Cold Mountain. He often went down to the Kuo-ch’ing Temple. At the temple lived Shih’te, who ran the dining hall. He sometimes saved leftovers for Han-shan, hiding them in a bamboo tube. Han-shan would come and carry it away; walking the long veranda, calling and shouting happily, talking and laughing to himself. Once the monks followed him, caught him, and made fun of him. He stopped, clapped his hands, and laughed greatly – Ha Ha! – for a spell, then left.

He looked like a tramp. His body and face were old and beat. Yet in every word he breathed was a meaning in line with the subtle principles of things, if only you thought of it deeply. Everything he said had a feeling of Tao in it, profound and arcane secrets. His hat was made of birch bark, his clothes were ragged and worn out, and his shoes were wood. Thus men who have made it hide their tracks: unifying categories and interpenetrating things. On that long veranda calling and singing, in his words of reply Ha Ha! – the three worlds revolve. Sometimes at the villages and farms he laughed and sang with cowherds. Sometimes intractable, sometimes agreeable, his nature was happy of itself. But how could a person without wisdom recognize him?

I once received a position as a petty official at Tan-ch’iu. The day I was to depart, I had a bad headache. I called a doctor, but he couldn’t cure me and it turned worse. Then I met a Buddhist Master named Feng-kan, who said he came from the Kuo-ch’ing Temple of T’ien-t’ai especially to visit me. I asked him to rescue me from my illness. He smiled and said, “The four realms are within the body; sickness comes from illusion. If you want to do away with it, you need pure water.” Someone brought water to the Master, who spat it on me. In a moment the disease was rooted out. He then said, “There are miasmas in T’ai prefecture, when you get there take care of yourself.” I asked him, “Are there any wise men in your area I could look on as Master?” He replied, “When you see him you don’t recognize him, when you recognize him you don’t see him. If you want to see him, you can’t rely on appearances. Then you can see him. Han-shan is a Manjusri (one who has attained enlightenment and, in a future incarnation, will become Buddha) hiding at Kuo-sh’ing. Shih-te is a Samantabbhadra (Bodhisattva of love). They look like poor fellows and act like madmen. Sometimes they go and sometimes they come. They work in the kitchen of the Kuo-ch’ing dining hall, tending the fire.” When he was done talking he left.

I proceeded on my journey to my job at T’ai-chou, not forgetting this affair. I arrived three days later, immediately went to a temple, and questioned an old monk. It seemed the Master had been truthful, so I gave orders to see if T’ang-hsing really contained a Han-shan and Shih-te. The District Magistrate reported to me: “In this district, seventy li west, is a mountain. People used to see a poor man heading from the cliffs to stay awhile at Kuo-ch’ing. At the temple dining hall is a similar man named Shih-te.” I made a bow, and went to Kuo-ch’ing. I asked some people around the temple, “There used to be a Master named Feng-kan here, Where is his place? And where can Han-shan and Shih-te be seen?” A monk named T’ao-ch’iao spoke up: “Feng-kan the Master lived in back of the library. Nowadays nobody lives there; a tiger often comes and roars. Han-shan and Shih-te are in the kitchen.” The monk led me to Feng-kan’s yard. Then he opened the gate: all we saw was tiger tracks. I asked the monks Tao-ch’iao and Pao-te, “When Feng-kan was here, what was his job?” The monks said, :He pounded and hulled rice. At night he sang songs to amuse himself.” Then we went to the kitchen, before the stoves. Two men were facing the fire, laughing loudly. I made a bow. The two shouted Ho! at me. They struck their hands together -Ha Ha! – great laughter. They shouted. Then they said, “Feng-kan – loose-tounged, loose-tounged. You don’t recognize Amitabha, (the Bodhisattva of mercy) why be courteous to us?” The monks gathered round, surprise going through them. “”Why has a big official bowed to a pair of clowns?” The two men grabbed hands and ran out of the temple. I cried, “Catch them” – but they quickly ran away. Han-shan returned to Cold Mountain. I asked the monks, “Would those two men be willing to settle down at this temple?” I ordered them to find a house, and to ask Han-shan and Shih-te to return and live at the temple.

I returned to my district and had two sets of clean clothes made, got some incense and such, and sent it to the temple – but the two men didn’t return. So I had it carried up to Cold Mountain. The packer saw Han-shan, who called in a loud voice, “Thief! Thief!” and retreated into a mountain cave. He shouted, “I tell you man, strive hard” – entered the cave and was gone. The cave closed of itself and they weren’t able to follow. Shih-te’s tracks disappeared completely..

I ordered Tao-ch’iao and the other monks to find out how they had lived, to hunt up the poems written on bamboo, wood, stones, and cliffs – and also to collect those written on the walls of people’s houses. There were more than three hundred. On the wall of the Earth-shrine Shih-te had written some gatha (Buddhist verse or song). It was all brought together and made into a book.

I hold to the principle of the Buddha-mind. It is fortunate to meet with men of Tao, so I have made this eulogy.

song-ma-yuen-1
(big picture- click for full size)

THE COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS, tr. Gary Snyder

1

The path to Han-shan’s place is laughable,

A path, but no sign of cart or horse.

Converging gorges – hard to trace their twists

Jumbled cliffs – unbelievably rugged.

A thousand grasses bend with dew,

A hill of pines hums in the wind.

And now I’ve lost the shortcut home,

Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?

2

In a tangle of cliffs, I chose a place –

Bird paths, but no trails for me.

What’s beyond the yard?

White clouds clinging to vague rocks.

Now I’ve lived here – how many years –

Again and again, spring and winter pass.

Go tell families with silverware and cars

“What’s the use of all that noise and money?”

3

In the mountains it’s cold.

Always been cold, not just this year.

Jagged scarps forever snowed in

Woods in the dark ravines spitting mist.

Grass is still sprouting at the end of June,

Leaves begin to fall in early August.

And here I am, high on mountains,

Peering and peering, but I can’t even see the sky.

4

I spur my horse through the wrecked town,

The wrecked town sinks my spirit.

High, low, old parapet walls

Big, small, the aging tombs.

I waggle my shadow, all alone;

Not even the crack of a shrinking coffin is heard.

I pity all those ordinary bones,

In the books of the Immortals they are nameless.

5

I wanted a good place to settle:

Cold Mountain would be safe.

Light wind in a hidden pine –

Listen close – the sound gets better.

Under it a gray haired man

Mumbles along reading Huang and Lao.

For ten years I havn’t gone back home

I’ve even forgotten the way by which I came.

6

Men ask the way to Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.

In summer, ice doesn’t melt

The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.

How did I make it?

My heart’s not the same as yours.

If your heart was like mine

You’d get it and be right here.

7

I settled at Cold Mountain long ago,

Already it seems like years and years.

Freely drifting, I prowl the woods and streams

And linger watching things themselves.

Men don’t get this far into the mountains,

White clouds gather and billow.

Thin grass does for a mattress,

The blue sky makes a good quilt.

Happy with a stone under head

Let heaven and earth go about their changes.

8

Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,

The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:

The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,

The wide creek, the mist blurred grass.

The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain

The pine sings, but there’s no wind.

Who can leap the word’s ties

And sit with me among the white clouds?

9

Rough and dark – the Cold Mountain trail,

Sharp cobbles – the icy creek bank.

Yammering, chirping – always birds

Bleak, alone, not even a lone hiker.

Whip, whip – the wind slaps my face

Whirled and tumbled – snow piles on my back.

Morning after morning I don’t see the sun

Year after year, not a sign of spring.

10

I have lived at Cold Mountain

These thirty long years.

Yesterday I called on friends and family:

More than half had gone to the Yellow Springs.

Slowly consumed, like fire down a candle;

Forever flowing, like a passing river.

Now, morning, I face my lone shadow:

Suddenly my eyes are bleared with tears.

11

Spring water in the green creek is clear

Moonlight on Cold Mountain is white

Silent knowledge – the spirit is enlightened of itself

Contemplate the void: this world exceeds stillness.

12

In my first thirty years of life

I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles.

Walked by rivers through deep green grass

Entered cities of boiling red dust.

Tried drugs, but couldn’t make Immortal;

Read books and wrote poems on history.

Today I’m back at Cold Mountain:

I’ll sleep by the creek and purify my ears.

13

I can’t stand these bird songs

Now I’ll go rest in my straw shack.

The cherry flowers are scarlet

The willow shoots up feathery.

Morning sun drives over blue peaks

Bright clouds wash green ponds.

Who knows that I’m out of the dusty world

Climbing the southern slope of Cold Mountain?

14

Cold Mountain has many hidden wonders,

People who climb here are always getting scared.

When the moon shines, water sparkles clear

When the wind blows, grass swishes and rattles.

On the bare plum, flowers of snow

On the dead stump, leaves of mist.

At the touch of rain it all turns fresh and live

At the wrong season you can’t ford the creeks.

15

There’s a naked bug at Cold Mountain

With a white body and a black head.

His hand holds two book scrolls,

One the Way and one its Power.

His shack’s got no pots or oven,

He goes for a long walk with his shirt and pants askew.

But he always carries the sword of wisdom:

He means to cut down sensless craving.

16

Cold Mountain is a house

Without beans or walls.

The six doors left and right are open

The hall is sky blue.

The rooms all vacant and vague

The east wall beats on the west wall

At the center nothing.

Borrowers don’t bother me

In the cold I build a little fire

When I’m hungry I boil up some greens.

I’ve got no use for the kulak

With hs big barn and pasture –

He just sets uo a prison for himself.

Once in he can’t get out.

Think it over –

You know it might happen to you.

17

If I hide out at Cold Mountain

Living off mountain plants and berries –

All my lifetime, why worry?

One follows his karma through.

Days and months slip by like water,

Time is like sparks knocked off flint.

Go ahead and let the world change –

I’m happy to sit among these cliffs.

18

Most T’ien-t’ai men

Don’t know Han-shan

Don’t know his real thought

And call it silly talk.

19

Once at Cold Mountain, troubles cease –

No more tangled, hung up mind.

I idly scribble poems on the rock cliff,

Taking whatever comes, like a drifting boat.

20

Some critic tried to put me down –

“Your poems lack the Basic Truth of Tao.”

And I recall the old timers

Who were poor and didn’t care.

I have to laugh at him,

He misses the point entirely,

Men like that

Ought to stick to making money.

21

I’ve lived at Cold Mountain – how many autumns.

Alone, I hum a song – utterly without regret.

Hungry, I eat one grain of Immortal medicine

Mind solid and sharp; leaning on a stone.

22

On top of Cold Mountain the lone round moon

Lights the whole clear cloudless sky.

Honor this priceless natural treasure

Concealed in five shadows, sunk deep in the flesh.

23

My home was at Cold Mountain from the start,

Rambling among the hills, far from trouble.

Gone, and a million things leave no trace

Loosed, and it flows through galaxies

A fountain of light, into the very mind –

Not a thing, and yet it appears before me:

Now I know the pearl of the Buddha nature

Know its use: a boundless perfect sphere.

24

When men see Han-shan

They all say he’s crazy

And not much to look at –

Dressed in rags and hides.

They don’t get what I say

And I don’t talk their language.

All I can say to those I meet:

“Try and make it to Cold Mountain.”

snydergary

Next, here are some different translations, some have slight differences from the same ones translated by Snyder. You can decide what resonates the most for you. I’m not sure where I found these and can’t identify the translator. Maybe somebody will sue me and I’ll know then.

Introduction

Han-shan, the Master of Cold Mountain, and his friend Shi-te, lived in the late-eighth to early-ninth century AD, in the sacred T’ien-t’ai Mountains of Chekiang Province, south of the bay of Hangchow. The two laughing friends, holding hands, come and go, but mostly go, dashing into the wild, careless of others’ reality, secure in their own. As Han-shan himself says, his Zen is not in the poems. Zen is in the mind.


The Poems

1.

Don’t you know the poems of Han-shan?

They’re better for you than scripture-reading.

Cut them out and paste them on a screen,

Then you can gaze at them from time to time.

han-shan

2.

Where’s the trail to Cold Mountain?

Cold Mountain? There’s no clear way.

Ice, in summer, is still frozen.

Bright sun shines through thick fog.

You won’t get there following me.

Your heart and mine are not the same.

If your heart was like mine,

You’d have made it, and be there!

3.

Cold Mountain’s full of strange sights.

Men who go there end by being scared.

Water glints and gleams in the moon,

Grasses sigh and sing in the wind.

The bare plum blooms again with snow,

Naked branches have clouds for leaves.

When it rains, the mountain shines –

In bad weather you’ll not make this climb.

4.

A thousand clouds, ten thousand streams,

Here I live, an idle man,

Roaming green peaks by day,

Back to sleep by cliffs at night.

One by one, springs and autumns go,

Free of heat and dust, my mind.

Sweet to know there’s nothing I need,

Silent as the autumn river’s flood.

hanshan003

5.

High, high, the summit peak,

Boundless the world to sight!

No one knows I am here,

Lone moon in the freezing stream.

In the stream, where’s the moon?

The moon’s always in the sky.

I write this poem: and yet,

In this poem there is no Zen.

6

Thirty years in this world

I wandered ten thousand miles,

By rivers, buried deep in grass,

In borderlands, where red dust flies.

Tasted drugs, still not Immortal,

Read books, wrote histories.

Now I’m back at Cold Mountain,

Head in the stream, cleanse my ears.

7.

Bird-song drowns me in feeling.

Back to my shack of straw to sleep.

Cherry-branches burn with crimson flower,

Willow-boughs delicately trail.

Morning sun flares between blue peaks,

Bright clouds soak in green ponds.

Who guessed I’d leave that dusty world,

Climbing the south slope of Cold Mountain?

8.

I travelled to Cold Mountain:

Stayed here for thirty years.

Yesterday looked for family and friends.

More than half had gone to Yellow Springs.

Slow-burning, life dies like a flame,

Never resting, passes like a river.

Today I face my lone shadow.

Suddenly, the tears flow down.

coldmountain

9.

Alive in the mountains, not at rest,

My mind cries for passing years.

Gathering herbs to find long life,

Still I’ve not achieved Immortal.

My field’s deep, and veiled in cloud,

But the wood’s bright, the moon’s full.

Why am I here? Can’t I go?

Heart still tied to enchanted pines!

10.

If there’s something good, delight!

Seize the moment while it flies!

Though life can last a hundred years,

Who’s seen their thirty thousand days?

Just an instant then you’re gone.

Why sit whining over things?

When you’ve read the Classics through,

You’ll know quite enough of death.

11.

The peach petals would like to stay,

But moon and wind blow them on.

You won’t find those ancient men,

Those dynasties are dead and gone.

Day by day the blossoms fall,

Year by year the people go.

Where the dust blows through these heights,

There once shone a silent sea.

12.

Men who see the Master

Of Cold Mountain, say he’s mad.

A nothing face,

Body clothed in rags.

Who dare say what he says?

When he speaks we can’t understand.

Just one word to you who pass –

Take the trail to Cold Mountain!

upcoldmountain-hanshan

13.

Han-shan has his critics too:

‘Your poems, there’s nothing in them!’

I think of men of ancient times,

Poor, humble, but not ashamed.

Let him laugh at me and say:

‘It’s all foolishness, your work!’

Let him go on as he is,

All his life lost making money.

14.

Cold Mountain holds a naked bug,

Its body’s white, its head is black.

In its hands a pair of scrolls,

One the Way and one its Power.

It needs no pots or stove.

Without clothes it wanders on,

But it carries Wisdom’s blade,

To cut down mindless craving.

15.

I’m on the trail to Cold Mountain.

Cold Mountain trail never ends.

Long clefts thick with rock and stones,

Wide streams buried in dense grass.

Slippery moss, but there’s been no rain,

Pine trees sigh, but there’s no wind.

Who can leap the world’s net,

Sit here in the white clouds with me?

16.

Men ask the way through the clouds,

The cloud way’s dark, without a sign.

High summits are of naked rock.

In deep valleys sun never shines.

Behind you green peaks, and in front,

To east the white clouds, and to west –

Want to know where the cloud way lies?

It’s there, in the centre of the Void!

17.

Sitting alone by folded rocks,

Mist swirling even at noon,

Here, inside my room, it’s dark.

Mind is bright, clear of sound.

Through the shining gate in dream.

Back by the stone bridge, mind returns.

Where now the things that troubled me?

Wind-blown gourd rattling in the tree.

18.

Far-off is the place I chose to live.

High hills make for silent tongues.

Gibbons screech in valley cold

My gate of grass blends with the cliff.

A roof of thatch among the pines,

I dig a pool, feed it from the stream.

No time now to think about the world,

The years go by, shredding ferns.

19.

Level after level, falls and hills,

Blue-green mist clasped by clouds.

Fog wets my flimsy cap,

Dew soaks my coat of straw.

A pilgrim’s sandals on my feet,

An old stick grasped in my hand.

Gazing down towards the land of dust,

What is that world of dreams to me?

20.

What a road the Cold Mountain road!

Not a sign of horse or cart.

Winding gorges, tricky to trace.

Massive cliffs, who knows how high?

Where the thousand grasses drip with dew,

Where the pine trees hum in the wind.

Now the path’s lost, now it’s time

For body to ask shadow: ‘Which way home?’

21.

Always it’s cold on this mountain!

Every year, and not just this.

Dense peaks, thick with snow.

Black pine-trees breathing mist.

It’s summer before the grass grows,

Not yet autumn when the leaves fall.

Full of illusions, I roam here,

Gaze and gaze, but can’t see the sky.

22.

No knowing how far it is,

This place where I spend my days.

Tangled vines move without a breeze,

Bamboo in the light shows dark.

Streams down-valley sob for whom?

Mists cling together, who knows why?

Sitting in my hut at noon,

Suddenly, I see the sun has risen.

23.

The everyday mind: that is the way.

Buried in vines and rock-bound caves,

Here it’s wild, here I am free,

Idling with the white clouds, my friends.

Tracks here never reach the world;

No-mind, so what can shift my thought?

I sit the night through on a bed of stone,

While the moon climbs Cold Mountain.

24.

I was off to the Eastern Cliff.

Planned that trip for how long?

Dragged myself up by hanging vines,

Stopped halfway, by wind and fog.

Thorn snatched my arm on narrow tracks,

Moss so deep it drowned my feet,

So I stopped, under this red pine.

Head among the clouds, I’ll sleep.

25.

Bright water shimmers like crystal,

Translucent to the furthest depth.

Mind is free of every thought

Unmoved by the myriad things.

Since it can never be stirred

It will always stay like this.

Knowing, this way, you can see,

There is no within, no without.

fioredilotorosso

26.

Are you looking for a place to rest?

Cold Mountain’s good for many a day.

Wind sings here in the black pines,

Closer you are, the better it sounds.

There’s an old man sitting by a tree,

Muttering about the things of Tao.

Ten years now, it’s been so long

This one’s forgotten his way home.

27.

Cold rock, no one takes this road.

The deeper you go, the finer it is.

White clouds hang on high crags.

On Green Peak a lone gibbon’s cry.

What friends do I need?

I do what pleases me, and grow old.

Let face and body alter with the years,

I’ll hold to the bright path of mind.

A few more, various translators. I ask myself: What is the true heart of Han Shan? I studies Chinese to get a better idea but it only made me more confused. These other poets do a much better job of reading than I do.

Birth and Death. Day and Night.
Running water, stagnant pool.
Bud and fading flower.
Can I find the point at which they change
From one into the other?
Can my nostrils turn upwards?

When the mind keeps tumbling
How can vision be anything but blurred?
Stop the mind even for a moment
And all becomes transparently clear!
The moving mind is polishing mud bricks.
In stillness find the mirror!

–   Han Shan Te’-Ch’ing, 1600
Selected Poems by Han-Shan (Silly Mountain)

I laugh at my failing strength in old age,
Yet still dote on pines and crags, to wander there in solitude.
How I regret that in all these past years until today,
I’ve let things run their course like an unanchored boat.

–   Shih-te, 750
Translated by James Hargett

after late spring rain the falling petals swirl
weightlessly celestial scent covers my patched robe
a simple vacant mind has no place to go
resting on the peak I watch the clouds return

–  Han Shan Te’-Ch’ing, 1600
Translated by Red Pine
Echoes of Eternity

Thirty years ago I was born into the world.
A thousand, ten thousand miles I’ve roamed,
By rivers where the green grass lies thick,
Beyond the border where the red sands fly.
I brewed potions in a vain search for life everlasting,
I read books, I sang songs of history,
And today I’ve come home to Cold Mountain
To pillow my head on the stream and wash my ears.

–   Han Shan, 750
Translated by Burton Watson
Cold Mountain: One Hundred Poems

Mountains in China

I think of the past twenty years,
When I used to walk home quietly from the Kuo-ch’ing;
All the people in the Kuo-ch’ing monastery-
They say, “Han-shan is an idiot.”
“Am I really an idiot:” I reflect.
But my reflections fail to solve the question:
for I myself do not know who the self is,
And how can others know who I am?

–   Han Shan, 750
Translated by D. T. Suzuki
Essays in Zen Buddhism, Third Series, 1953

Great accomplishments are composed of minute details.
Those who succeed in attaining the Whole
have attended carefully to each tiny part.
Those who fail have ignored or taken too lightly
what they deemed to be insignificant.
The enlightened person overlooks nothing.

–   Han Shan Te’-ch’ing, 1600
The Maxims of Master Han Shan Te’-Ch’ing
Translated by Grandmaster Jy Din Shakya

Ha ha ha.
If I show joy and ease my troubled mind,
Worldly troubles into joy transform.
Worry for others–it does no good in the end.
The great Dao, all amid joy, is reborn.
In a joyous state, ruler and subject accord,
In a joyous home, father and son get along.
If brothers increase their joy, the world will flourish.
If husband and wife have joy, it’s worthy of song.
What guest and host can bear a lack of joy?
Both high and low, in joy, lose their woe before long.
Ha ha ha.

–   Han Shan, 750
Translated by Mary Jacob

outside my door
blue mountains bouquet
before the window
yellow leaves rustle
I sit in meditation
without the least word
and look back to see
my illusions completely gone

–   Han Shan Te’-Ch’ing, 1600
Translated by J. P. Seaton
Mountain Living

Hanshan came specially to see me,
Shihte too, a rare visitor.
We spoke unaffectedly and with without reserve
of the Mind,
How vast and free the Great Emptinesss,
How boundless the universe,
Each thing containing within itself all things.

–   Feng Kan (Big Stick), 750
Translated by R. H. Blyth
Zen and Zen Classics, p 131

This is my resting place;
Now that I know the best retreat.
The breeze blows through the pines,
Sounding better the nearer it is.
Under a tree I’m reading
Lao-tzu, quietly perusing.
Ten years not returning,
I forgot the way I had come.

–   Han Shan, 750
Translated by Katsuki Sekida

Kyozan asked a monk,
“Where are you from?”
“Cold Mountain,” answered the monk.
“Have you reached the Five Peaks of Cold Mountain?”
“No, not yet,” said the monk.
Kyozan said, “You are not from Cold Mountain.”

Later, Ummon said, “This talk of Kyozan was
falling into the weeds,
all out of kindness.”

Setcho’s Verse:

Falling or not falling, who can tell?
White clouds piling up,
Bright sun shining down,
Faultless the left, mature the right.
Don’t you know Han Shan?
He went very fast;
Ten years not returning,
He forgot the way he had come.

–   The Blue Cliff Records, Case 34
Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan and Hekiganroku (1977)
Translated by Katsuki Sekida

cm-hanshan_


good night


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Part 2, Poems of the Tang Dynasty

For introduction see Part 1. What? No illustrations. Maybe next time. I’ll throw in some unrelated pictures at the end for your consolation prize.

These are some of my favorites.

Li Bai

BIDDING A FRIEND FAREWELL AT JINGMEN FERRY


Sailing far off from Jingmen Ferry,
Soon you will be with people in the south,
Where the mountains end and the plains begin
And the river winds through wilderness….
The moon is lifted like a mirror,
Sea-clouds gleam like palaces,
And the water has brought you a touch of home
To draw your boat three hundred miles.

Li Bai

A FAREWELL TO A FRIEND


With a blue line of mountains north of the wall,
And east of the city a white curve of water,
Here you must leave me and drift away
Like a loosened water-plant hundreds of miles….
I shall think of you in a floating cloud;
So in the sunset think of me.
…We wave our hands to say good-bye,
And my horse is neighing again and again.

Li Bai

ON HEARING JUN THE BUDDHIST MONK
FROM SHU PLAY HIS LUTE


The monk from Shu with his green silk lute-case,
Walking west down Omei Mountain,
Has brought me by one touch of the strings
The breath of pines in a thousand valleys.
I hear him in the cleansing brook,
I hear him in the icy bells;
And I feel no change though the mountain darken
And cloudy autumn heaps the sky.

Li Bai

THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME FROM A NIGHT-MOORING
UNDER MOUNT NIU-ZHU


This night to the west of the river-brim
There is not one cloud in the whole blue sky,
As I watch from my deck the autumn moon,
Vainly remembering old General Xie….
I have poems; I can read;
He heard others, but not mine.
…Tomorrow I shall hoist my sail,
With fallen maple-leaves behind me.

Du Fu

ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT


Far off in Fuzhou she is watching the moonlight,
Watching it alone from the window of her chamber-
For our boy and girl, poor little babes,
Are too young to know where the Capital is.
Her cloudy hair is sweet with mist,
Her jade-white shoulder is cold in the moon.
…When shall we lie again, with no more tears,
Watching this bright light on our screen?

Du Fu

A SPRING VIEW


Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
…After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
…I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.

Du Fu

A NIGHT-VIGIL IN THE LEFT COURT OF THE PALACE


Flowers are shadowed, the palace darkens,
Birds twitter by for a place to perch;
Heaven’s ten thousand windows are twinkling,
And nine cloud-terraces are gleaming in the moonlight.
…While I wait for the golden lock to turn,
I hear jade pendants tinkling in the wind….
I have a petition to present in the morning,
All night I ask what time it is.

Du Fu

TAKING LEAVE OF FRIENDS ON MY WAY TO HUAZHOU


In the second year of Zhide, I escaped from the capital through the Gate of Golden Light and went to Fengxiang. In the first year of Qianyuan, I was appointed as official to Huazhou from my former post of Censor. Friends and relatives gathered and saw me leave by the same gate. And I wrote this poem.


This is the road by which I fled,
When the rebels had reached the west end of the city;
And terror, ever since, has clutched at my vitals
Lest some of my soul should never return.
…The court has come back now, filling the capital;
But the Emperor sends me away again.
Useless and old, I rein in my horse
For one last look at the thousand gates.

Du Fu

REMEMBERING MY BROTHERS ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT


A wanderer hears drums portending battle.
By the first call of autumn from a wildgoose at the border,
He knows that the dews tonight will be frost.
…How much brighter the moonlight is at home!
O my brothers, lost and scattered,
What is life to me without you?
Yet if missives in time of peace go wrong —
What can I hope for during war?

Du Fu

TO LI BAI AT THE SKY SEND


A cold wind blows from the far sky….
What are you thinking of, old friend?
The wildgeese never answer me.
Rivers and lakes are flooded with rain.
…A poet should beware of prosperity,
Yet demons can haunt a wanderer.
Ask an unhappy ghost, throw poems to him
Where he drowned himself in the Milo River.

Du Fu

A FAREWELL AT FENGJI STATION TO GENERAL YAN


This is where your comrade must leave you,
Turning at the foot of these purple mountains….
When shall we lift our cups again, I wonder,
As we did last night and walk in the moon?
The region is murmuring farewell
To one who was honoured through three reigns;
And back I go now to my river-village,
Into the final solitude.

Du Fu

ON LEAVING THE TOMB OF PREMIER FANG


Having to travel back now from this far place,
I dismount beside your lonely tomb.
The ground where I stand is wet with my tears;
The sky is dark with broken clouds….
I who played chess with the great Premier
Am bringing to my lord the dagger he desired.
But I find only petals falling down,
I hear only linnets answering.

Du Fu

A NIGHT ABROAD


A light wind is rippling at the grassy shore….
Through the night, to my motionless tall mast,
The stars lean down from open space,
And the moon comes running up the river.
…If only my art might bring me fame
And free my sick old age from office! —
Flitting, flitting, what am I like
But a sand-snipe in the wide, wide world!

Du Fu

ON THE GATE-TOWER AT YOUZHOU


I had always heard of Lake Dongting —
And now at last I have climbed to this tower.
With Wu country to the east of me and Chu to the south,
I can see heaven and earth endlessly floating.
…But no word has reached me from kin or friends.
I am old and sick and alone with my boat.
North of this wall there are wars and mountains —
And here by the rail how can I help crying?

Wang Wei

A MESSAGE FROM MY LODGE AT WANGCHUAN
TO PEI DI


The mountains are cold and blue now
And the autumn waters have run all day.
By my thatch door, leaning on my staff,
I listen to cicadas in the evening wind.
Sunset lingers at the ferry,
Supper-smoke floats up from the houses.
…Oh, when shall I pledge the great Hermit again
And sing a wild poem at Five Willows?

Wang Wei

AN AUTUMN EVENING IN THE MOUNTAINS


After rain the empty mountain
Stands autumnal in the evening,
Moonlight in its groves of pine,
Stones of crystal in its brooks.
Bamboos whisper of washer-girls bound home,
Lotus-leaves yield before a fisher-boat —
And what does it matter that springtime has gone,
While you are here, O Prince of Friends?

Wang Wei

BOUND HOME TO MOUNT SONG


The limpid river, past its bushes
Running slowly as my chariot,
Becomes a fellow voyager
Returning home with the evening birds.
A ruined city-wall overtops an old ferry,
Autumn sunset floods the peaks.
…Far away, beside Mount Song,
I shall close my door and be at peace.

Wang Wei

MOUNT ZHONGNAN


Its massive height near the City of Heaven
Joins a thousand mountains to the corner of the sea.
Clouds, when I look back, close behind me,
Mists, when I enter them, are gone.
A central peak divides the wilds
And weather into many valleys.
…Needing a place to spend the night,
I call to a wood-cutter over the river.

Wang Wei

ANSWERING VICE-PREFECT ZHANG


As the years go by, give me but peace,
Freedom from ten thousand matters.
I ask myself and always answer:
What can be better than coming home?
A wind from the pine-trees blows my sash,
And my lute is bright with the mountain moon.
You ask me about good and evil fortune?….
Hark, on the lake there’s a fisherman singing!

Wang Wei

TOWARD THE TEMPLE OF HEAPED FRAGRANCE


Not knowing the way to the Temple of Heaped Fragrance,
Under miles of mountain-cloud I have wandered
Through ancient woods without a human track;
But now on the height I hear a bell.
A rillet sings over winding rocks,
The sun is tempered by green pines….
And at twilight, close to an emptying pool,
Thought can conquer the Passion-Dragon.

Wang Wei

A MESSAGE TO COMMISSIONER LI AT ZIZHOU


From ten thousand valleys the trees touch heaven;
On a thousand peaks cuckoos are calling;
And, after a night of mountain rain,
From each summit come hundreds of silken cascades.
…If girls are asked in tribute the fibre they weave,
Or farmers quarrel over taro fields,
Preside as wisely as Wenweng did….
Is fame to be only for the ancients?

Wang Wei

A VIEW OF THE HAN RIVER


With its three southern branches reaching the Chu border,
And its nine streams touching the gateway of Jing,
This river runs beyond heaven and earth,
Where the colour of mountains both is and is not.
The dwellings of men seem floating along
On ripples of the distant sky —
These beautiful days here in Xiangyang
Make drunken my old mountain heart!

Wang Wei

MY RETREAT AT MOUNT ZHONGNAN


My heart in middle age found the Way.
And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain.
When the spirit moves, I wander alone
Amid beauty that is all for me….
I will walk till the water checks my path,
Then sit and watch the rising clouds —
And some day meet an old wood-cutter
And talk and laugh and never return.

Unrelated pictures, as promised- click for full size or animation when appropriate.

mt-st-helens

cell-it-just-makes-sense

1910-cowgirl

cunning

ani-bad-day

justin_pillowdeath

eskimoburglar

tao_of_kitties

dodo

us-to-break-up

ferret-bath

poor_foke

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