Human beings live in the dirt (Han Shan)

“Human beings live in the dirt, like bugs in a filthy bowl,” writes 8th century Chinese Ch’an poet Han Shan

Human beings live in the dirt,
like bugs in a filthy bowl.
All day long crawling around and around,
never getting over the edge.
Even spiritual masters can’t make it,
racking their brains for schemes and plans.
The months and the years, a running river:
then there’s the day you wake up old.

By Han Shan. From: The Shambala Anthology of Chinese Poetry, translated and edited by J.P. Seaton (2006)


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