World of Paradox

Mother’s Distress Day (II)
World of Paradox

O world of happiness!
First time we met,
you welcomed me with a smile;
I responded with wailing.
Heaven disturbed. Earth rocked.

O world of sorrow!
Our final parting,
I sent you off with  wailing;
you responded without words.
Heaven. Earth. Closed.

O world of paradox!
Regardless of first encounter or parting forever,
I always wailed at you.
Wailing for the world begins with a smile of yours,
but bliss ends with your eyes closed.

Yu Guangzhong

There was a poetry reading and piano performance to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. Inspired and deeply moved by the poet Professor Yu’s three poems on Mother’s Distress Day, the pianist Christiana Chiu-shih Lin composed and performed a beautiful piano piece.

Poetry reading and piano performance

Professor Yu is my favorite Taiwanese poet. Though he taught English and American literature, his poems are all in Chinese. Just want to share the touching poem with this translation (that may not fully convey the poet’s original Chinese words).

For Mother’s Distress Day I:This Life Time.
People celebrate births but mourn deaths. See Chuang Tzu’s quotes on life and death.








Quotes on Life and Death

Our hearts cry for those who lost loved ones in Belgium’s terrorist attacks.May we all find consolation in Chuang Tzu’s teachings on death and loss.

“What we exhaust is the firewood,
it’s the fire that passes on.
It knows no end.”
(Chuang Tzu).


“Life and death is a matter of destiny,
just like day and night
is the law of the universe”.
(Chuang Tzu)

Yin Yang

“Let things change naturally
to cope with the unforeseeable change.
Go along with the change predestined. ”
(Chuang Tzu)

SeedlingWithered Branches

“Life and Death are One.”
(Chuang Tzu)
How would I know I wouldn’t regret longing to live after I die?
Chuang Tzu

“Everything has a reason for being so.”
(Chuang Tzu)
Violinist’s touching article on Four Weddings & a Funeral.


“Nature gives us form,
belabors us with living,
eases us with old age
and lets us rest with death.
Therefore if life is good,
death is good as well.”
(Chuang Tzu)

Masters’ Dialogs

Glamorous Natural Burial

When Chuang Tzu was at his deathbed, his disciples wanted an expensive funeral for him.

Chuang Tzu said, “I shall have heaven and earth for coffin, sun and moon as dual ornaments, stars as jewels and everything at burial. Are my burial gifts not adequate? What more can you add?”

The disciples said, “We fear crows and hawks will devour you.”

Chuang Tzu said, “Above ground, I shall be eaten by birds; below by ants and worms. Either way I shall be eaten. Why are you partial?”

(From Chapter 32 “Imperial Robbers”, Book of Chuang Tzu, written by the followers of Chuang Tzu. It really reflects Chuang Tzu’s teachings on funerals.)

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu in a boat under trees

Genius Mind in Ancient China

“Chuang Tzu is the greatest and most brilliant poet among Chinese thinkers so far known.” Herman Hesse.
Most Westerners have heard of Lao Tzu and Tao, and Tao Te Ching is probably one of the most read Classics both in East and West. Whether Lao Tzu actually wrote Tao Te Ching himself is still a myth. There is no verifiable record on Lao Tzu, it is believed that he probably lived around 3rd to 6th century BCE. There are few historical details on Chuang Tzu’s life, but a brief biography is documented. Most would consider him a follower of Lao Tzu and he lived after Confucius (551-479 BCE). He is as important as Lao Tzu in terms of his influence on Chinese thoughts.

One of the most intriguing, humorous and enjoyable personalities in the entire history of Chinese philosophy and literature, Chuang Tzu presents in his writings philosophy for individuals and emphasizes the need for individual freedom and transcendence from worldly concerns. He advocates “Free from the World”, but man must first of all discard baggage of conventional values before he can be free.

Employing rhetoric to awaken readers to essential meaninglessness of conventional values, he uses short narratives that start out sounding rational and end up reducing language to gibberish like the Zen Koan to alert the mind into awareness of a truth outside ordinary logic or pseudo logical discussions.

He lived in fourth century BCE (369-286 BCE) during Warring States Period (403-221 BCE) when nations were split up into a number of autonomous states that were constantly at war with one another. In this golden age of Chinese philosophy a hundred schools of thoughts arose to envision a better social order. Continue reading