Poem to awaken the world – Part 7

Continuing from previous article…..


The 7th part goes like this.


and it can be roughly translated as follows;

人從巧計誇伶俐 – man praises schemes as wisdom

People who uses their intelligence to manipulate and scheme for their own benefits are praised by others as being wise and intelligent.

We see political leaders and business leaders reaching the height of admiration by their clever use of words and clever manipulation of the mass media. Charity becomes a charade and another avenue for marketing.

Cult leaders and charlatan command large followings and cheat followers of money, labor, faith, sex etc. Yet we see people remarking in awe that they must be really wise and have the “good karma” to pull it off.

Those who manipulate and scheme at work are praised as politically savvy leaders who deserve a promotion. Those who work honestly and hard are classified as followers.

The list runs on and on.

In this stanza, Master DeQing observe the “wisdom” of ordinary folks like us. We tend to look at things on the surface level because we do not have enlightened wisdom.

As a result, we celebrate the wrong achievements in society.

天自從容定主張 – heaven will decide otherwise

This stanza is actually referring to the cause and effect of Karma. When Buddhism spread into China, China already has Taoism and beliefs in Gods.

The common folks have no problem believing that the Gods will reward and punish according to one’s karma. Therefore when educating the mass public, it is easier to teach the essence that good begets good and bad begets bad according to heaven’s will.

Above explains why Gods and heaven is being referenced in a Buddhist poem.

Read together with the previous stanza, Master DeQing is advising us that although our schemes and design may fool our fellow men, it cannot fool the cause and effect of karma.

In Buddhism, our thoughts and mind affects our action and speech. Therefore the motivation and intent behind each action also determines the subsequent karmic results.

For example, in the story of an old beggar woman offering a broken lamp. Her lamp remained unextinguished by strong wind because of her pure motivation to make an offering. Whereas the lamps offered by princes and merchants were extinguished because they are more concern about showing off their wealth and affluence.

諂曲貪嗔墮地獄 – conniving, craving, hatred leads to hell

This is a stark message or warning of what leads to a bad rebirth. Hell being the worst rebirth according to Buddhism, followed by the realm of hungry ghost and animal realms. These 3 realms of existence is considered bad rebirth.

貪嗔 refers to craving and hatred. It is taught that having greed and hatred in our mind leads to lower rebirth.

The word 諂曲 is very difficult to translate but I think it means a conniving nature, a mind that tend to distort or hide the truth. I think that equates to ignorance and the spreading of ignorance in the world.

For example, when the monks or nuns taught us about charity and the merit of making offerings to the monastic communities, a conniving mind will think “Yah right. You want us to give you more money right?” Then that person with a conniving mind will warn others not to be brainwashed by the monks and nuns who are “scheming for your wealth”  With a mind like that, a person cannot appreciates good teachings and they even spread their ignorance to others without even realising their own mistakes.

公平正直即天堂- an upright and fair mind gain entry to heavens

In Buddhism, one is taught that good deeds in life will cause rebirth in heavens. One cannot do evil and still expect to have a place in heavens.

In addition, the motivation behind our deeds and speech must spring forth from a mind that is just, direct, straightforward, loving, compassionate etc.

For example, when a beggar share his meal with another, he is really giving half of what he has to another starving man. That act earns a place in heaven.

On the other hand a millionaire may feed 500 beggars but his intention is to appear on the news paper front page. The act of the millionaire is said to be inferior to the beggar.

In summary, Master deQing advises us to do good and abstain from bad. In addition to that, we need to have a straight forward mind, a mind that does not deceive others or ourselves. A mind that forthright without hatred and craving. Although we may fool others with our pretence, we can never fool cause and effect in karma.

That’s my limited translation and interpretation of the 7th prose. (to be continued…..)

醒世歌 (poem of awakening)


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