Bitter to Mouth

Yutang Lin

Effective medicine bitter to mouth and difficult to swallow,
Poisons coated with sugar are taken in without satiation.
Straight talks unpleasant to hear, how many would listen to?
Bitter words out of loving care, when will one comprehend this!


Recently I have been translating the Chinese book that I compiled, "Collection of Praises for Offering Dates," into English. I noticed that among the Tantric praises there are many expressions that could readily be misunderstood by people who do not comprehend the significance of the Tantric path. Thereupon I thought of two Chinese idioms related to "bitter to mouth" or "mouth of bitter words" (in Chinese it is the same expression Ku Kou), and then composed this poem based on them.

Those who grasp to appearance, formality and fixed views without comprehension of lively applications free from entanglements, even though they are said to be learning to become enlightened, would often become bound by terminology and formality of Buddhist teachings. What a pity! The level and depth of one's wisdom is indeed very difficult to elevate or change. Sincere and dedicated practitioners should maintain a humble attitude so as to look forward to growth and advancement in wisdom.

Written in Chinese and translated on August 16, 2005
El Cerrito, California

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