Reminder to myself

Keep calm and composed,
and faithful to yourself.
With your ruling center clear,
a cool mind no matter the noise,
persevering along your path to sagehood.

These are self-strengthening measures.
Practice until they become a part of your nature.
In all circumstances.
And the benefits will spill over
you and the world around you.

Marcus Antoninus


A rough path

waiting for nourishment
patient and alert
today I found myself wading turbulent waters
keeping fears at bay
expecting the unexpected
I embrace change and persevere.
learning to accept
learning to learn
I strive to turn difficulty into opportunity
a rough path bringing growth and joy
while the Sun still shines upon my inner garden.

Marcus Antoninus

Working my fields

after the mists of dawn finally vanish away
a benign sun now warms my heart
and unploughed fields lie open ahead of me
sitting at last in sovereign possession of myself
there is no more fear or confusion
there is no more treading on thin ice
and although midday has already passed for me
there are seeds to be sown
there are crops awaiting my tender care
desiring nothing more than enough
I gladly face what time is left of my day
I will calmly endure, working my fields
until the last darkness embraces me

Marcus Antoninus

Auspicious bright day

Under a gentle sun
tree leaves flicker in the breeze,
lone clouds mirror in a silent pond,
distant hills vanish in the haze.
Timelessness amidst impermanence,
a bright serenity,
a calm understanding,
and there is no more toil or struggle,
Content with whom I am,
for a moment, I share mind with ancient sages
for a moment, wherever I am
the sun shines upon my inner garden.

Marcus Antoninus
(inspired by many ancient sages)

Rinsing away the dust

There is true literature within each of us,
but it is often too scattered.
There is true music,
but it is often drowned in noise.
Only sweeping away externals,
can we find the essential.
Rinsing away the dust,
we find our true selves.

Marcus Antoninus, inspired by Hong Zicheng [Hung Ying-Ming] (~1580)
Freely interpreted and modified from verse 57, book I, in “Vegetable Root Discourse” (Caigentan), based on a translation by R. Aitken (Counterpoint, 2006).

Returning to live in the country

Young, I was always free of common feeling.
It was in my nature to love the hills and mountains.
Mindlessly I got caught in the dust-filled trap.
Waking up, thirteen years had gone.
A caged bird wants the old trees and air.
A fish in a pool misses the ancient stream.
I plough the earth at the edge of South Mountain.
Keeping life simple, return to my fields and garden.
My place is hardly more than a few fields.
My house has a few small rooms.
Elm-trees and Willows shade the back.
Plum-trees and Peach-trees reach the door.
Misted, misted the distant village.
Drifting, the soft swirls of smoke.
Somewhere a dog barks deep in the winding lanes.
A cockerel crows from the top of the mulberry tree.
No heat and dust behind my closed gates.
My bare rooms are filled with space and silence.
Too long a prisoner, captive in a cage,
Now I get back again to Nature.

T’ao Yuan-Ming (365 – 427)
(Translation by A.S. Kline,