There Were Disappointing Times

<The Tender Inner World of a Saintly Poet>

From Wu Tzu Poems
(Originally in Aulacese)

Lyrics, music and vocals
by Supreme Master Ching Hai

uddha has left the Earth!
Christ has been enthroned in Heaven!
Days follow nights;
humans are left alone,
Guiding one another ruefully in the dark...

Oh, brothers and sisters!
Do not forsake this world,
Do not abandon all creatures,
To join the joy in some remote Nirvana
Stay back with me here!
Stay back with me here!

We will search high and low,
For a little love,
For a little love!
To bestow on all beings
In all corners of existence!

We've tried searching,
But the future's so very far away!
We've tried searching,
But who did we find?
Neither Bodhisattvas,
Nor Buddhas!

Let Buddha's compassion so immense,
Pour down like mountain rain
Onto this parched and arid life,
To wash away all injustices,
To demolish all prisons
The worldly dust
has covered human souls
For such a long, long time!



Our eyes are already blurred,
Our wisdom stupefied
We've lost the way to Paradise
The Six Worlds are full of demons
Human bodies writhe in shackles,
Tied down with Maya's chains of illusion!

Who feels pity?
Who's to be pitied?
Christ and Buddha have shed light
on the way,
But the roads are still
full of hurdles and traps
Who has the super power
To save all beings
From the iron claws of transmigration?

Oh, brothers and sisters!
Share with me
A prayer
Earnestly wishing safety and joy
to all creatures!
Forever and ever,
Let's sacrifice,
Let's pray that all lives
From this drowning dark world be delivered.

Note: Master set this poem in music and sang it Aulacese. Her beautiful voice and the gracious melody were recorded on the CD and DVD "Beyond the Realm of Time".

~ Poetry Reading and Appreciation ~

The End of "Guiding One Another Ruefully in the Dark"

     As I read “There Were Disappointing Times” by Master, what comes to mind is Faust, the great work of Goethe, the greatest German writer in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

     Well-versed in human knowledge, Faust has achieved the “Doctor” title . But when he turns fifty, he finds that all his knowledge is just dead ashes of useless garbage. Having lost the meaning of existence, he painfully thinks of suicide. But the bell on Easter and the expression of exuberant life in the youth around him revive his will to explore the meaning of real life. The devil, representative of the negative spirit, turns up at this juncture. With the purpose to guide humans into the wrong path, he offers himself to be Faust’s servant and satisfy whatever wish the doctor cherishes – with one condition. If the doctor is satisfied and willing to forsake his insatiable desire for exploration, his soul will sink forever and become a slave of the devil. Confident that he would never be satisfied, Faust accepts the condition.

     With the devil’s arrangement, Faust drinks some magic potion and is turned into a lively youth. He then starts his earnest exploration of life in the small world of personal life and big world of society. Following the devil, he falls in love with a pure and beautiful maiden and gets a good chance to enjoy love. He helps a king overcome financial crisis. He returns to the classical world to explore the possibility of combining modern spirit with classical values to save the world. He helps a king pacify an uprising and is given a large piece of land. Planning to create more land by moving mountains to fill up the sea, he thinks of doing work to improve the people’s well-being. In unfolding the exploration Faust is undertaking, Goethe shares his profound insights on human life, which makes this drama a true masterpiece in human culture. Finally, Faust turns one hundred years old and becomes blind. Hearing the noise of spades and hoes, he believes his dream to serve people is being fulfilled. He cannot but make the exclamation and then drops dead: “You are beautiful. Please stay.” The exclamation has fulfilled the condition of the devil. But as the devil is about to grab his soul, God sent down angels to take his soul up to heaven.

     Faust is a complex poetical drama. But it is generally agreed that it has given a powerful expression to the insatiable spirit of exploration in Western civilization.
But what has his exploration found? Has Faust really found the way to serve humankind?

     As it turns out, Faust is a tragedy that depicts the failures of explorations. The title character Faust fails in all his efforts. In order to enjoy love in peace, the maiden uses sleeping pills to tranquilize her mother and the overdose kills her. Challenging Faust to protect the reputation of his sister, the maiden’s brother is killed by Faust. And the maiden has also drowned accidentally the child she and Faust had together. She is finally put in prison, not only suffering from the reprimands of her conscience but also virtually facing death sentence. Faust does help the king, but the nobility of the kingdom is really corrupted and its people are suffering. In his exploration of classical values, he marries the ancient beauty, Helen, who is brought back to life by his call. Their child is also full of the spirit of elevation. But this child falls from the air and is killed. As a result, Helen evaporates and disappears. The noise of spades and hoes is not made by people working to fill up the sea. It is made by people who are commanded by the devil to dig a grave for him.

     Why does Goethe choose to make Faust a tragedy? In fact, Goethe uses metaphors and symbolism to reveal a bizarre and grotesque world where humans are sinking into anomie. This is why Faust has been so difficult to understand. In my opinion, it has never been Goethe’s intention to follow the assumptions of any established idea and knowledge to duplicate their standardized doctrines of what is good and what is evil. His purpose is to go beyond such knowledge to explore life in its own terms. He, therefore, goes into a panoramic perspective of the real world and real life in metaphors. He is able to see the impulses and urges in human instincts in all its mixed intentions and self-contradictions. He witnesses that every effort to go upward can be accompanied by ironic mockery and unexpected evils. Goethe’s insightful views on life are superior indeed to many human talents. But he cannot solve the irony and contradiction he has come to understand. It is inevitable that a talent with such visions would feel pained and disappointed. As a result, Faust is a tragedy of human existence.

     Faust has also included God in this tragedy. Before the devil attempts to entice Faust, God has shown trust in the good quality in Faust’s nature. At the last moment, God saves Faust. But, obviously, the exploration of Faust is not connected with God. God has not given guidance to Faust nor does Faust try to follow God. His exploration is confined in what human brain can understand within the realm of human ignorance. He has no wisdom. That’s why he cannot turn away from the irony of reality and overcome the self-contradictions.

Buddha has left the Earth!
Christ has been enthroned in Heaven!
Days follow nights;
Humans are left alone,
Guiding one another ruefully
In the dark...

     “Guiding one another ruefully in the dark...”: this is a succinct summary Master has made on human explorations. Not only do those who can reflect are doing so, even the most thoughtful human literary geniuses are doing so as well. Dante of Italy, Cervantes of Spain, Shakespeare of England, Goethe of Germany and Tolstoy of Russia – there is no exception. They are all “guiding one another ruefully in the dark....” None of the great writers are able to find the way they are looking for to save humanity. These geniuses extol the spirit of exploration, but they only explore and cannot point out a valid way. No wonder most of their explorations end up as tragedies. The ridiculous efforts of Cervantes’ Don Quixote to bring the world back to the Golden Age for humankind is also a heart-breaking tragedy.

     Looking back at the efforts of human geniuses and reflecting on Master’s poem, I think Master has offered us many things which these rare geniuses cannot offer. The conditions are different now. The way Master has pointed out to us is a way that does not contain any inherent irony and self-contradictions. It is not a way of failures. It is a way of success. What Master has pointed out is the true way for human beings to rise up from annihilation.

~ By Yiming, New Jersey, USA (Originally in English)