There is a famous snow mountain capped with mist, like a
king wearing a crown. It is said that from this mountain one may see the
North and South Poles simultaneously. This mountain is encircled by other
awesome rocky snow mountains, like a king surrounded by his queen and
ministers. At the foot of this range lies a valley famous as a retreat for
meditators. The air is redolent with the fragrance of herbs and mountain
freshness. Workers, toiling endlessly, have dreamed of visiting this
place. In this peaceful and beautiful forest grow flowering willows,
blossoming rhododendrons, beech, pines, and many wild flowers. There is a
waterfall, like white silk scarves hanging. The sound of falling water is
Near the waterfall stands a simple stone house, uncluttered by
ostentatious ornament. It blends easily into the rocky landscape. Inside,
the pillars and beams are of cedar. In the front, a large window opens
onto a porch. Blue smoke once lifted gently from the chimney and
disappeared into the sky. Here lived a famous scholar. His room was
completely lined with books. He enjoyed the beauty of nature and was
competent in the fields of philosophy, art, medicine and poetry. He spent
all his time in taking long walks and in reading and writing.
Occasionally, dwelling in retreat, he suppressed memories of work and
struggle in his earlier life in the cities. He treated his
servant-disciple in a fatherly manner, but with a certain measure of pride
and disdain, which insured his obedience and efficiency. He instructed his
disciple in all matters, from how to brew tea and cook food to the fine
points of philosophy. His servant never spoke to him, for his time was
taken up with listening to the scholar.
Once they took a walk, and his servant warned him that the bridge they
were about to cross was unsafe. But the scholar would not listen. For an
answer, the teacher said, "The scope of my vision is much greater than
yours." As he trod on the bridge, it collapsed and he died in the
In the pure land of the beautiful snow ranges
Lived a learned man, a poisonous flower with venom-nectar.
The disease of pride turned him deaf and dumb.
On hearing a word of advice, he committed suicide.
A man foolishly wise is like a leper;
A wisely foolish man is like a baby learning to walk.
To ride the horse of knowledge, it is necessary to have a saddle.
27 May 1972
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