Without mastering the root of heart, I passed many springs 未了心源度數春
And I deplore that I am hesitating in this floating world. 翻嗟浮世謾逡巡
A few people attained Nirvana in the way of Buddhism 幾人得道空門裏
And only I remain in this filthy world by myself. 獨我淹留在世塵
- Jikji, Volume 2 -
This is a Buddhist poem that appears in a letter that Dongshan Liangjie wrote to his parents when he left home to become a Buddhist monk. Lines three and four show the contrast between the poetic subject and the posting self. A few people, the subjects of the poem, have attained Nirvana through Buddhism, but the narrator is in sharp contrast with them, buried in this filthy world. “A few people” and “by myself,” “the way of Buddhism” and “this filthy world,” and “attaining Nirvana” and “remaining” are instances of contrast. The first two lines establish that this world is transitory (浮世) and the narrator decries the fact that they remain in it. These strong contrasts serve as the background for showing the narrator’s attitude about a Buddhist path (空門) to leave the filthy world (塵世) behind.
Source: Jeon, Jae-gang (2017)