Ode to The Plum Blossom
Recently, I stumbled upon breathtaking plum blossoms while taking a walk. These delicate flowers evoked feelings of warmth and joy, reminding me of the arrival of spring. In Chinese culture, plum blossoms, beyond just being a physical flower, have become a symbol of perseverance and resilience in the face of harsh winter conditions. This significance was achieved through the extensive descriptions, sublimations, and chanting by literati and scholars over the ages. In ancient China, plum blossoms were considered a lucky symbol and were welcomed as a sign of the arrival of spring during the New Year.
When I was a child, my father taught me to recite the poem “Ode to the Plum Blossom” by Zedong Mao, reminding me to be fearless and strong like the plum blossom that blooms amidst harsh winter conditions. I really like the poem, and can still remember it.
Ode to the Plum Blossom
—to the tune of Bu Suan Zi
By Zedong Mao, December 1961
Wind and rain escorted Spring’s departure,
Flying snow welcomes Spring’s return.
On the ice-clad rock rising high and sheer
A flower blooms sweet and fair.
Sweet and fair, she craves not Spring for herself alone,
To be the harbinger of Spring she is content.
When the mountain flowers are in full bloom
She will smile mingling in their midst.
But after many years of struggles, I realized that bravery and strength aren’t always enough, especially in managing relationships and family. As a wife and mother, I learned the importance of being magnanimous, compassionate, forbearing, and not rigid. I have since embraced the peaceful and compassionate philosophy of Buddhism.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, the contemporary Buddha, wrote a poem “Plum Fragrance in the Holy Land.” He broke from traditional poetry styles, instead opting for surreal techniques to directly convey spiritual essence.
To the Tune of “Jiang Jun Song”
Plum Fragrance in the Holy Realm
Reveal her icy bearing and proud bones,
See how plum blossom commands the scene,
The crowd of beauties suddenly lacks color,
Seductive peach has lost its looks.
A few casual strokes,
So many eons of wind and dust.
The smoke and fire of the human world all disappears,
Leaving only a pure fragrance from the paper,
It wafts over me, awakening my mind.
The smile of the enchanted dream still remains,
Buddha Vajradhara has come
Three times to this world.
To this Buddha Land of merciful compassion
That great one has brought purity,
Feelings of the brush,
Traces of the brush,
One smile in the wind and dust,
Now the wind and dust,
So many eons of wind and dust.
The Buddha also created an ink painting to accompany the poem. The poem delves deeper into the artist’s thoughts, while the painting provides a visual representation.
The plum blossoms depicted in the paintings symbolize the artist’s state of mind, embodying inner beauty refined from impurities. The brushwork, casually applied, was accomplished with an unfettered hand and detached mind, free of the slightest artificiality. It is a seemingly ever-changing work. Its charm, tone, transitions, and depictions represent the highest level of Eastern ink-and-wash paintings. A transparent layer of lighter ink on top of darker ink is clearly visible, imbuing the painting with a pure and fragrant air and providing the viewer with a feeling of comfort and ease.
The plum blossoms created by these skilled pens are eternal. While natural blooms may come and go, Buddha’s compassion remains steadfast.
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