A Chinese Idiom: Smoke and Clouds Passing Before the Eyes

Yi Dou

PureInsight | July 12, 2004

[PureInsight.org] It is a good hobby to admire and collect traditional Chinese calligraphy works and brush paintings, but it does not help cultivate noble ambitions. Besides, one might not be unable to set priorities correctly if it becomes an attachment.

During the Three Kingdoms (220 – 265 A.D.), there was a high-level government official named Zhong Yao. He once saw a precious calligraphy work by a famous ancient calligrapher Cai Yi in Wei Dan's antique art collection. He begged Wei Dan to sell it to him, but Wei Dan declined. Tormented by his desperate longing for Cai Yi's calligraphy work, Zhong Yao hammered his chest with his fists and coughed out blood.

General Huan Xuan who lived during the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 A.D.) was another antique art collector. He was so obsessed with his collection of Chinese calligraphy works and brush paintings that he built a few boats to carry his art collection before a battle. He explained matter-of-factly, "Warfare is not a joking matter. If there is any mishap, these fast boats will quickly carry my precious art collection to a safe area where the enemy cannot get to them."

When I was younger, I was also obsessed with Chinese calligraphy artworks and brush painting. I was constantly worried about losing my art collection and coveted other art collectors' accumulations. After I started to cultivate in Falun Dafa, I found it ridiculous that I cared not for wealth, power or death, but treasured my calligraphy and brush painting collection obsessively. It did appear that I no longer knew where my priorities in life lay.

My obsession with Chinese calligraphy and brush painting has since subsided. I occasionally buy calligraphy and brush painting works if I come across an excellent work. But when I see someone else buying artwork that I like or when someone asks me to sell him artwork in my collection, I don't feel sad parting with it. They are now like smoke and clouds passing before my eyes, or birds flying across the sky. I am content with watching birds flying and leaving my sight.

The Chinese idiom "smoke and clouds passing before the eyes" is a metaphor for the transient, usually referring to wealth, fame and other things or people that one desires and cannot part with.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/6/28/27884.html

Add new comment