A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems/Realizing the Futility of Life

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Written on the wall of a priest's cell, circa 828

Ever since the time when I was a lusty boy
Down till now when I am ill and old,
The things I have cared for have been different at different times,
But my being busy, that has never changed.
Then on the shore,— building sand-pagodas;
Now, at Court, covered with tinkling jade.
This and that,— equally childish games,
Things whose substance passes in a moment of time!
While the hands are busy, the heart cannot understand;
When there are no Scriptures, then Doctrine is sound.[1]
Even should one zealously strive to learn the Way,
That very striving will make one's error more.

  1. This is the teaching of the Dhyana Sect.