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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Zen Tales_9 from 譚概 - 半日閑》__Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Zen Tales

(9)Half-day Leisure

Once in ancient China, a government minister decided to visit a famous temple. His subordinates notified the Resident Monk to prepare for the visit three days ahead.

All monks got busy to make the visit a success.

The temple was situated deep in the mountains, embraced by bamboo groves and pine trees. It was serene looking out to a sea of clouds.

The Minister felt very pleased walking here and there, stopping to gaze at the pale blue sky that was now vivid now hidden. There was a comforting breeze to play music among the pines and ciders.

He was invited in for a vegetarian lunch with rice wine. As he ate and drank, his mind travelled far in space and time. He recited the famous Tang verse:

“Hearing Buddhist chants as I pass the bamboo court, 因過竹院逢僧話

What comfort it is to have half a day of leisure in life’s flirts.” 又得浮生半日

The Resident Monk laughed as he heard the poem. He urged the Minister to enjoy his meal. He then said: “We are very glad that you are enjoying half a day of leisure here. Your kind visit has kept all of us busy for three days.”

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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in the book譚概》.It juxtaposed the differing situations of temple monks and a high official in their encounter. The original phrase 半日閑 in the famous Tang poem has come to mean a way of life that is balanced by work and leisure.

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