Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drinking with the Moon

Li Po (701-762) was probably the greatest Chinese poets of pre-modern times. Li Po's distinction lies in the fact that he brought an unparalleled grace and eloquence to his treatment of the traditional themes, a flow and grandeur that lift his work far above of mere imitation of the past. Another characteristic of his poetry is the air of playfulness, hyperbole and outright fantasy that infuses much of it.
Though the theme is mundane, the following poetry is a work of beauty carrying a very deep meaning to the discerning mind.

A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.


The interconnectedness of all our perception is brought out gracefully in the first four lines of this poetry. For the poet without the moon there is no shadow of himself in his existence and the triumvirate of the primal light in the cosmos, the incarnate consciousness and the shadow of the self that falls upon the world as ego are the three indivisible companions.

The primal light is above the human wants and does not partake in the follies of man while his ego is the slave to his current consciousness. This relationship is inevitable and we must make the best use of that which is given when life exists in our body signified by the season of spring which is the harbinger of life.

The songs of our life, which are the lyrics that are continuously written through our thoughts, affect the reception of the cosmic and divine illumination and the ego dances to this tune. If we live in divine intoxication there is harmony and joy but intoxication through material pleasures results in disharmony and disintegration of the holistic existence. This is the reason that the poet says "now we are drunk, each goes his way".

The last two lines of the poem really sums up the ultimate reality that all fragmentation of consciousness must come to unity in the realm of cosmic consciousness.

This thought is devoted to the Spring Equinox, a day which dedicated to celebrating continuous creation.

Love to you all

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