Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Cloud and Water ?

Someone asked me if my email name means anything, cloud and water.

Yes there is.

I borrowed the inspiration from the book titled Cloud and Water - An Interpretation of Ch'an Poems by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. In the book's foreword, it was written

"...What do we mean by cloud and water? Clouds float by water flows on. In movement there is no grasping, in Ch’an there is no settling. The cloud and water life is a life of living in the moment, always fresh and ready to experience..."

I was in a transitional phase in my life, at least emotionally. Hence, this description particularly striked me and echoed how i viewed about life. The transience of life. The impermanence of life. The need to seize the day and live life to the fullest.

Chapter one of the book, Cloud and Water goes like this,

I. Philosophy of Life

“Worldly ups and downs
should be treated
As lightly as the clouds
gathering and breaking up”

Isn't this so true? Friends meet and part, lovers meet and part, friends after parting for many years may meet again, sometimes, we are down in life, but in time, things will turn out fine. It's just part and parcel of life, the ups and downs, the gathering and breaking, the impermanence of life, just like clouds gathering and breaking. If we accept it as part of human life and world phenomenon, we won't be afraid or become depressed or become too attached to whatever that happens to us. This is how i feel.

Above lotus flower taken from BuddhaNet.

Here's another verse from the book, followed by comments from Ven. Master Hsin Yun,


At first, I work hard for two meals, then it is for nice clothing
Now that I have nice clothing, I long for a beautiful wife
Now that I have a beautiful wife, I want a nice carriage
Now that I have a fleet of nice carriages, I want a fertile farm
Now that I have many acres of fertile land,
I want a government title to impress others
I do not want to start at the bottom of the ladder,
not even in the middle
When I am at the top rung, I want to be the emperor for a while
When I am the emperor and everything is going well,
I long to live forever
There is no end to my wants, until the day I die with reluctance.

You can tell from this poem that there is no end to our wants and cravings.
One’s happiness does not hinge on how much money one has or what title one
carries. Sometimes, money can bring you headaches and impressive positions
can bring you more worries. We should not be selfish. We should not only take,
but also give. Someone who only knows how to take, without giving, will never
be happy.


Or this,


Everyone is his own being.
There is no need to plan for merit and glory.
The oriole sings in the gentle wind and warm sun.
Spring is already smiling at the flower buds

“Everyone is his own being. There is no need to plan for merit and glory”.
When we practice the Dharma, the most important part is to find our true nature. As long as we know ourselves and examine our intentions, we can relax and be ourselves. We can be happy from the mere praise from others. Our feelings may be hurt when someone looks at us askew. It seems that we are not living for ourselves but what others think of us. There are those people who are quite pretentious, their minds will be confined to their own fantasies. Others who are after money and glory are bound by fame and wealth.

“The oriole sings in the gentle wind and warm sun, spring is already smiling at the flower buds”. The world can be a much better place if we can all find our true nature and turn our mind back to nature. When others need our compassion, we give freely. When others need our help, we give
our service willingly. We should compliment others where credits are due. We should always try to help others whenever we can. If we know when to be kind and compassionate, when to be happy for others, and when to give, we can get along with others very well and will not be bounded or persuaded by anyone or anything. True nature includes people and self, it benefits others and also self. If we can see that self and other are just the opposite sides of the same coin, the mind is then in the state of “The oriole sings in the gentle wind and warm sun”.

The sky is clear and the wind is gentle, birds singing, flowers blooming. We are at peace with ourselves and we feel good about ourselves. There was a poem written in. the Tang dynasty:

I searched everywhere for Spring,
But Spring is nowhere to be found.
Over the mountain I look, my shoes are worn,
I came back and coincidentally smelled the plum blossoms.
Then I know Spring is here, living among the branches.

Sometimes when we are set in our minds to look for something, it is nowhere to be found. If we do not calculate too much, do not mind the gain or loss too much, do not fantasize too much. Then strangely enough, the best results often happen naturally, like the water eventually becoming a river. Great merit is also achieved in this way "

And while I'm at this, if you are interested in the philosophy of Buddhism, BuddhaNet's Buddhist ebook Library has a good range of free buddhist ebook for reference, covering General Buddhism, Buddhism Mediation, Text and Teachings, Buddhist History and Art and Children's book.