Poem #87 from Cold Mountain (Han Shan)

A greedy man who piles up wealth

is like an owl who loves her chicks

the chicks grow up and eat their mother

wealth eventually swallows its owner

spread it around and blessings grow

hoard it and disaster arises

no wealth no disaster

flap your wings in the blue

Translation by Red Pine

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4 Responses to “Poem #87 from Cold Mountain (Han Shan)”

  1. Tim Mueller Says:

    Thanks, Mark! Over the last 30 years we have perfected the art of loving money, worshipping money, and worshipping those who have money. So many people back in the ’60s and ’70s, like Thomas Merton, saw the disease, but their voices were drowned out. Sad.

    • markbittner Says:

      The kind of era we’re living in doesn’t last forever. Things will change again. The only question is whether we’ll live to see it.

  2. Sarah Says:

    The change that you seem to anticipate can cause people – that is, the powerless, voiceless millions – to suffer much more than they do today. The status quo might not be ideal, but it is a relative peace.

    Recall the funk that ended the last Gilded Age. Everybody suffered and the powerless millions suffered the most. Recall what the country did to get itself out of that funk. Millions of people abroad suffered as a result.

    • markbittner Says:

      It’s not a matter of what I want or don’t want, anticipate or don’t anticipate. It’s a matter of cause and effect, or karma, which is inexorable. Water freezes at a certain temperature and boils at another. Nothing can change that. Beneath the status quo there is a tremendous amount of pressure building, like two tectonic plates pressing up against one another. Know what I mean?

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