Barely Escaped

Yutang Lin

Hearing others' calamity feels like one's own;
How could our barely escape be secured long?
During leisure still remain vigilant and careful;
Practice Dharma diligently for impermanence.


Upon hearing disasters that took place in other parts of the world, one feels as if those were one's own stories. As sentient beings we are the same. Even though this time we had been spared such disasters, how could it be ensured that we would always remain fortunate? Be keenly aware of impermanence and suffering, and thus remain vigilant and diligent.

The title of this poem reminded me of an anecdote. A few years ago Dave Verno, an old friend of mine, woke up in the middle of the night, heard commotion outside, so he walked to the front room to see what happened. Right then fire broke into where he was sleeping, so he had no choice but to come out naked. He surely demonstrated the phrase "barely escaped" both in the usual sense of making it in time, and in addition, in the style of his exit.

Written in Chinese on January 22, 2003
Translated on January 24, 2003
El Cerrito, California

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