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The selfless egoism

Posted June. 24, 2022 07:55,   

Updated June. 24, 2022 07:55


Poet Wang Wei, who was so fond of Buddhism that he earned the nickname ‘Buddha,’ enjoyed being a recluse in his later years at the Zhongnan Mountain Retreat. Even if there was no friend to hang out with, walking to the water source at the end of the stream and hoping for the clouds to rise gave the poet infinite pleasure. If the 'pleasant duty' that a poet who was in a high-ranking position, the Shangshu governor, coveted was this much, even if he was the only one “knowing this,” the egoism stemming from indifference should not be blamed. This was a man to whom going home never occurred when he started engaging in a small talk with an old man in the woods, and it illustrates well how humble a life he wanted to lead by living half of his life as a public official and another half as a hermit.

In his poem, there are two contrasting images in Zhongnan Mountain. The south mountain Tao Yuanming mentioned in his poem Drinking Wine, “I picked a chrysanthemum by the eastern hedge, off in the distance gazed on south mountain,” is synonymous with secluded life free of troubles. On the other hand, Zhongnan Mountain also shows a strong commitment for success and fame in life. Among the successive kings and queens of China, there were some who saw the potential in a hermit in the Zhongnan Mountain. The well-known idiomatic expression‎ means, “Mt. Zhongnan is a shortcut to a ministerial job (or success and fame).” It is also used to have a sarcastic nuance for hypocrites who try to gain a government post by pretending to be noble-minded disguising as a hermit in the Zhongnan Mountain.