It has been quite a while since we took a stroll through the Chinese garden . . . the garden I refer to is actually a book, “Epigrams from the Ming Dynasty ‘Discourses on Vegetable Roots’” by Tzu-Ch’eng (1572-1620). It was translated by Chao Tze-chiang and published in 1959 as A Chinese Garden of Serenity, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist.
Not only is it a garden of serenity, it’s also a garden of wisdom . . .
Looking at the busy bees in a fragrant and luxuriant garden, one may become disillusioned about the life of the senses and the ways of the world. Beholding the sleeping swallows in a quiet and humble hovel, one may arouse in oneself a cool pleasure and a deep contemplation.
When a bird is frightened out of its wits or a flower splashes its tear-drops, they both embrace ardor and zeal. How can they calmly appreciate the chilly wind or the gelid moon?
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.
Those who prefer quietude to noise retreat from people into solitude, but they do not know that to be alone is a self-obsession and to aim at quiescence is the root of action.
A taste derived from tranquility and ease is dilute, but lasts longer.
Life’s fortunes and misfortunes are caused entirely by the mind. Shakyamuni [The Buddha] said, “A burning desire for gain is a pit of fire, and an indulgence in greed is a sea of suffering. Once our mind is purified, a flame is turned into a pool; and once our mind awakens us from a dream of worldliness, our ship of life is anchored along the shore of the Great Beyond.” Hence, a slight change of the mind can suddenly make a different situation. Should we not be careful?