“The present life of man, O King, is like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the Mead Hall wherein you sit at supper in winter, with a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before or what is to follow we are ignorant.” Edwin of Northumbria’s Counsellor, 12 April 627
We need not be ignorant. We come from beyond the world, live in it for a while, and leave to progress according to our deserts.
If we remember that we are not of the world, that we are passing through, we act profitably, doing only those things which are for our long term good.
If we see only the attractions of the world, we become forgetful and are immersed in the world. We do things which are for our short term gain, but not necessarily for our long term good.
We forget that, no matter how hard we try to preserve our lives, we will lose them in the end. And however hard we try to escape the consequences of our deeds, we can never escape them. They pursue us like our shadows. Inside the Mead Hall or without.
NEW PROJECT: “MEN MAY RISE ON STEPPING-STONES
OF THEIR DEAD SELVES TO HIGHER THINGS”
(Tennyson: In Memoriam 1849)
Business men boast of their skill and cunning
but in philosophy they are like little children.
Bragging to each other of successful “deals”,
They neglect to consider the ultimate fate of their bodies.
What do they know of the Master of Dark Truth,
Who saw the whole world in a jade cup?
This vision enlightened his mind.
Making of Impermanence a vehicle,
He went beyond Heaven and Earth
And entered The Gate of the Eternally Unchanging.
(Ch’en Tzü-ang A.D. 656-698)