We finally come to the last prose in the poem.
In this prose, Master De Qing reminds his disciples on the temporal nature of life. The various occurrence in our life kept us constantly busy but at the end of it, what is it for? The 10th part goes like this;
and it can be roughly translated as follows;
obsessed with fighting for a win, a hundred years passes like a play
suddenly the music ceased and one wonders where is their next place
In the last prose Master De Qing reference a common and popular entertainment during his time. Theatrical performance by travelling playhouse. These performers travelled from town to town to perform. They do not have a fixed place and travel to different part of the country to earn a living. Performance is accompanied by musics of cymbals and drums etc.
In a way, life is like that, each one of us have our own show and the cast of our show enters and leave our show. When our show ends we are reborn in another place, into another family. Then a new show begins. The ceaseless wandering in Samsara with its share of suffering is rather tiresome if we contemplate its nature of imperfections.
Since our average lifespan is a maximum of 100 years, if we are engrossed with fighting for material gains only, then at the end of our life, we realised that all our time were spent pursuing something that is like a dream, nothing more. Just flashes of memories.
From a Buddhist perspective, our time could have been better spent if we remember to pursue spiritual practice while living our temporary existence.
If we look at the entire poem, it reminds us that life is impermanent. It questions us if it is really wise to be lost in our worldly pursuit only to discover at the end of our life, that it’s empty like a movie or theatrical play.
Should we be spending our time fighting to be the winner, being bad and angry, manipulative and scheming? Making our own world myopic and narrow?
Or should we spend our life with loving kindness and compassion, caring for others and living in a joy of simple truth, simple life?
Since all material gains are impermanent, at the end of the day, it is our mind that we are faced with on our deathbed. Is it a mind that is filled with love and joy or a mind that is filled with mistrust, craving, anger, disappointment etc?
The trick is to recognise life as it really is. Impermanent and empty.
Then perhaps wisdom will dawn in us as to what is a priority in our current existence. How can we live in harmony, love and kindness? How can we bring that to others (compassion)
Starting with our family and love ones, be more funny and create laughter, be more caring and create kindness, be less aggressive and create peace, be more understanding and create tolerance, be more giving and create love.
It is ironical that evil are sometimes committed in the name of religion. In the poem, Master DeQing reminded us evil goes to hell and goodness goes to heaven.
If more people looks at life with wisdom, maybe there will be less conflict in this world. May peace and harmony prevail everywhere.
That’s my limited translation and interpretation of the 9th prose. (to be continued…..)
醒世歌 (poem of awakening)