A Poem: Don’t Read So Much

Penned by Chinese poet Yang Wanli in the 12th century, the poem, translated by Jonathan Chaves, is a renunciation of books as a distraction from the core Buddhist virtue of mindful presence:

Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.

It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
burn incense.
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.

In my opinion, the poet is suggesting that context is important-at that time books would have a certain contemporary equivalent to TV or movies or video games.

Therefore when studying, study; when thinking, think; when being confused, be confused; when concentrating, concentrate; but don’t ever take book knowledge to be something other than what it is. Don’t confuse knowledge for experience.

 

 

 

International Day of Non-Violence

“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.”

Mahatma Gandhi
The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927

Mahatma Gandhi’s first Salt Satyagrah was inspired by Imam Hussain’s non-violent resistance to the tyranny of Yazid. Mahatma Gandhi is said to have studied the history of Islam and Imam Hussain (A), and was of the opinion that Islam represented not the legacy of a sword but of sacrifices of saints like Imam Hussain (A).

Mahatma Gandhi wrote:“My faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain (A), the great saint.”

The sculpture "Non-Violence"

The sculpture “Non-Violence”

The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. This day is referred to in India as Gandhi Jayanti. It is, the United Nations writes, an opportunity to “disseminate the message of non-violence” with the goal of “securing a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding”.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi inspired countless others with his philosophy, including Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Einstein. In celebration of non-violence, and the history of social change it has helped achieve, here are few quotes from cultural leaders on the topic:

  • “Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil,” — Albert Einstein

  • “Non-violence doesn’t mean we have to passively accept injustice. We have to fight for our rights, we have to oppose injustice. Gandhi fervently promoted non-violence, but that didn’t mean he was complacently accepting of status quo. He resisted, but he did so without doing harm.” — Dalai Lama

  • “Non-violence means avoiding avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse t0 shoot a man, but also refuse to hate him.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace. We need love and compassion.” — Mother Teresa

  • “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” — Thomas Edison