When birds twitter to one another, their pleasure is mutual; when a flower grows on a twig, its fragrance can rise perpetually. Here we find the spirit of unity of one thing with another. When the view in a field is not interrupted even by a hillock, or when the light of the sky meets the water of the sea, there is the state of pervasion from above and below.
When the wind blows through the scattered bamboos, they do not hold its sound after it has gone. When the wild geese fly over a cold lake, it does not retain their shadows after they have passed. So the mind of the superior man begins to work only when an event occurs; and it becomes a void again when the matter ends.
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches and shall master all attachment.
A beautiful lady who does not care for rouge is like the sparsely-poised plum blossoms illuminated by pallid moonlight. A devotee of Ch’anism who does not indulge in emptiness is like a green lotus blooming upon a bluish pond.
When a man has realized the essential nature of his mind, he can speak of enlightening his mind. And when he has exhausted the ordinary ways of the world, he is able to discourse on his seclusion from the world.
To boast of fame is not such a pleasure as to avoid it; to be versed in worldly affairs does not bring such leisure as to be unconcerned with them. Lo, a lone cloud idling across a mountain peak does not care whether it stays there or passes on; while the bright moon hanging in the firmament is indifferent as to whether the world is silent or noisy.
I took a walk on Spaulding’s Farm the other afternoon. I saw the setting sun lighting up the opposite side of a stately pine wood. Its golden rays straggled into the aisles of the wood as into some noble hall. I was impressed as if some ancient and altogether admirable and shining family had settled there in that part of the land called Concord, unknown to me (to whom the sun was servant) who had not gone into society in the village–who had not been called on. I saw their park, their pleasure-ground, beyond through the wood, in Spaulding’s cranberry-meadow. The pines furnished them with gables as they grew. Their house was not obvious to vision; the trees grew through it. I do not know whether I heard the sounds of a suppressed hilarity or not. They seemed to recline on the sunbeams. They have sons and daughters. They are quite well. The farmer’s cart-path, which leads directly through their hall, does not in the least put them out, as the muddy bottom of a pool is sometimes seen through the reflected skies. They never heard of Spaulding, and do not know that he is their neighbor–notwithstanding I heard him whistle as he drove his team through the house. Nothing can equal the serenity of their lives. Their coat-of-arms is simply a lichen. I saw it painted on the pines and oaks. Their attics were in the tops of the trees. They are of no politics. There was no noise of labor. I did not perceive that they were weaving or spinning. Yet I did detect, when the wind lulled and hearing was done away, the finest imaginable sweet musical hum–as of a distant hive in May, which perchance was the sound of their thinking. They had no idle thoughts, and no one without could see their work, for their industry was not as in knots and excrescences embayed.
A true heart can cause snow to fly in a summer’s day, a fortified city to fall, or a stone to be pierced; but a hypocrite has only his common clay without a spiritual master. When he is with others, his countenance is hideous; and, when alone, his body and his shadow are ashamed of each other.
Most people can read a book with words but not one without words, and they can play a lyre with strings but not one without strings. How can they derive tranquil pleasure from a book or a lyre, when they exercise their intelligence only on the material, but not on the spiritual, aspect of things?