The More Things Change

A Zen saying:

Before enlightenment,
I chopped wood and carried water.
After enlightenment,
I chopped wood and carried water.

3 Comments

  1. Duncan says

    We sit together, the mountain and me,
    until only the mountain remains.

    Like Omar Khayyam (which we’ve discussed previously), my knowledge of Li Po relies very much on the translation for effect. The above is via Mitchell. Whatever the genesis, this is one of my favorite couplets.

    Posted March 10, 2006 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  2. eugene says

    The original chinese text for Li Po cited by Duncan is

    敬亭獨坐

    眾鳥高飛盡
    孤雲去獨閒
    相看兩不厭
    唯有敬亭山

    And word for word translation is

    Jin Ting solitary sitting

    All Birds High Fly Away
    Lone Cloud (Searches for) (Its own) Fun
    Mutually Look (We both) Without Bore
    Only (There is) Jing Ting Mountain

    Posted March 11, 2006 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Thank you, Eugene. As much as I love English, sometimes I feel like its prisoner.

    Posted March 11, 2006 at 2:20 pm | Permalink