Buddhist monks and nuns play an active role in Hong Kong society and some of them, such as the subject of this video, are frequently seen on YouTube. 常霖法師 The Venerable Chang Lin (the Mandarin pronunciation is conventionally used; in Cantonese, it becomes Sèuhng4 Làhm4 Faat3 Sī1) has been very active in recent times, partly on account of his having been a very successful photographer in Hong Kong before becoming a Buddhist monk, a process referred to as 出家 chēut gāa in Cantonese, which literally means to “go out of the family”. In this piece, he provides a very simple introduction to zen as 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1, a unity of body and mind, and contrasts it with our usual state of 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6, that is “physically present but otherwise absent”. He then goes on to relate zen to his practice as a photographer.
The video already has English subtitles, so you can go ahead and watch the video here. If you’re interested in the Cantonese details, please take a look at my transcription, notes and more literal translation below. Some of the vocabulary worth taking on board includes 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home”; 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience; 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal; 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley; 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph; and 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law.
I once heard a radio interview with another prominent monk, 衍空法師 the Venerable Yan Kong. Although he had a successful career and a happy marriage, his interest in Buddhism eventually led him to make the decision to 出家 chēut gāa, and finally he had to break the news to his wife. In an extraordinary twist, his wife announced in response that she would become a Buddhist nun, joining him in the spiritual realm, even as they left one another in the secular world . . .
● 平衡 pìhng4 hàhng4 = balance; equilibrium | ● 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6 = roughly, “physically present but mentally absent” | ● 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1 = roughly, “unity of body & mind” | ● 刻意 hāk1 yi3 = often “painstakingly” but also “deliberately; on purpose” | ● 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home” (lit. “three days & three nights”) | ● 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience | ● 適當 sīk1 dong3 = suitable; proper; appropriate
The Venerable Changlin: The reason why people tend to have so much trouble and why so many problems crop up is actually because they have lost their balance. What causes people to lose their balance most easily is because their mind wanders off [人在心不在]. If our minds and our bodies work as one, then we feel free and easy, comfortable [自在]. You feel free and at ease when you are happy, and so you don’t have to go out of your way so much to seek happiness; when you are unhappy, you can also be at ease, which means that you won’t feel much in the way of unhappiness.
You could talk about the word “zen” until the cows come home. Zen is a personal experience: you really have to experience it yourself before you can really understand it. A simple description of zen goes like this: doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. You could also put it like this: being in the moment. And so for this reason . . .
● 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal | ● 繁忙 fàahn4 mòhng4 = busy | ● 鼓勵 gú2 laih6 = to encourage to urge | ● 釋放 sīk1 fong3 = to release; to set free | ● 歲月 seui3 yuht6 = years | ● 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley | ● 畫家 wáa6*2 gāa1 = painter; artist
. . . it is the same thing as being completely the same as nature. For example, if the sun happens to be shining warmly, that tree [over there] won’t say “I think this is awful! Gosh, it’s so sunny and hot!” or when it rains “Oh no! Why is it always raining?” It wouldn’t do anything like that. It is whatever it is in the moment.
Nature has the capacity to heal. If we generally feel ourselves to be busy in the city, affected by many different things, then I encourage you to go out into nature and take a walk. There you can find release for yourself comparatively easily as well as becoming mindful [心在] and at ease.
I prefer taking photos of the traces left by time — blotches and stains. To me, most of the time I don’t see such things as stains. I see them as works of art, as if they were paintings. [In this case,] however, nature is the painter. When I take my photographs, I don’t have anything . . .
● 空白 hūng1 baahk6 = a blank space | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 相機 seung3 [or séung3*2] gei1 = camera | ● 出書 chēut1 syū1 = to put out a book | ● 純粹 sèuhn4 seuih6 = pure; unadulterated | ● 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph | ● 透明 tau3 mìhng4 = transparent | ● 膠片gāau1 pín3*2 = usu. “film”; here perhaps “a piece of plastic” | ● 日曬雨淋 yaht6 saai3 yúh5 làhm4 = be exposed to the sun and the rain
. . . in my mind, but it’s not just a total blank. What I mean is that I’m still experiencing my surroundings at that time. For instance, if I see something and feel moved by it, I will get out my camera and take a photo of it. But when I am photographing it, I am not thinking [to myself]: “I could use this photo to express such-and-such. I could add some words to accompany it [as a caption], or I could put out a book or hold an exhibition.” None of these things occurs to me. I am simply in the moment, putting myself 100% into the feeling.
The special thing about this exhibition is that my photographic works have been printed on transparent sheets of plastic, very large sheets of transparent plastic. When you’re enjoying one of the works, you can look through the plastic at the surrounding natural environment. This exhibition is exposed to the sun and the rain. That is, it has been set up [擺] outdoors. So for this reason . . .
● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law | ● 成、住、壞、空 sìhng4 jyuh6 waaih6 hūng1 = to come into being, to abide, to run down, to become empty
. . . it again responds to that law of nature: all things come into being, abide, run down, and become empty. Together we experience the works in this exhibition in a natural environment that is always constantly changing.
Ever since the night of the Cantonese Speaking Contest, 阿綠 Ah Luk has wondered about 陳之一 Chan Chi-yat’s preposterous connection with the Italian folk-song “Santa Lucia”. As for 孚翠 Fu-cheui — urban worshipper of all that is truly wild — a visit to Kadoorie Farm in Lam Tsun finally gives her a dream come true: a very close feline encounter with a leopard cat.
On sunny days, I make sure I spend plenty of fresh-air-time with my other — wilder — brother, Shadow. Together we go our separate ways wherever we happen to please ourselves. But when Cloud is King, I am the one reduced to shade, overcast exactly for hours at a time in one and the same place, while he steps in where I left off: thrilled by those three — or four — or five dimensions as he sets off in search of that wholler, humaner, humankinder world. And if I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times: “If you find it, brother, remember: JUST AS SOON AS YOU CAN PLEASE COME BACK FOR ME!”
If you too are married to running, you will love this video about 葛行輝 Stanley Got and his passion for tung kan paau or “running to work”. This notion, first popularized by the Japanese runner-writer 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya, gets an extra twist in a Hong Kong setting when Got realizes he can run from Sha Tin to Kowloon where he works as the boss of a clothing store, taking in some diverse mountain wilderness along the way.
If you happened to be married to Cantonese rather than athletics, you will enjoy Got’s humorous, engaging manner and vivid turns of phrase, including 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to take several things and make them into one thing; 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey”; 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; and 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed.
The marriage of image and music is another inspiring aspect of this video: at times they meld in a powerfully evocative way.
You can watch the video here(subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). For my transcription, vocabulary notes and translation, please see below.
● 呼喚 fū1 wuhn6 = to call to (e.g. “Our country is calling us” [祖國在呼喚我們]) | ● 追求 jēui1 kàuh4 = to seek; to pursue | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction
Voice-over: Do we run in response to the call of the body, for the sake of recovering a life we have missed, or in order to discover a new [sense of] self? On the wide running track, we have our different pursuits [追求] and we move towards different destinations, but the faith is the same . . .
Caption: 有種信念叫跑 | There is one kind of faith called “running”
● 環節 wàahn4 jit3 = link; segment | ● 育 yuhk6 = to educate; to cultivate; to nurture; the addition of 成 sìhng4 here perhaps indicates result, that is, to instruct someone so that they are able to do sth. successfully (one meaning of 成 is “to accomplish; to succeed”) | ● 攻略 gūng1 leuhk6 = ① to attack & seize ② a tactic | ● 名人賽 = (?) a master in a particular sport, cf. 美國名人賽， The Masters/ Masters Tournament | ● 真誠 jān1 sìhng4 = sincere; genuine; true
Voice-over: There will be three segments [環節] in each our programs: “You Run”, stories about running and how it can change your life; “He/She Runs”, tactics to educate a single male runner [about how to be able to run well]; and “I Run”, in which masters in the 5-kilometre run truly share [some of their secrets]. Three, Two, One: Go!
● 整裝待發 jíng2 jōng1 doih6 faat3 = be ready to set out; fully equipped & waiting to set out (意思是整理好行装，等待出发。出自陶菊隐《北洋军阀统治时期史话》) | ● 急不及待 gāp1 bāt1 kahp6 doih6 = to impatient to wait; extremely anxious | ● 奔馳 bān1 chìh4 = to run quickly; to speed | ● 追逐 jēui1 juhk6 = ① to pursue; to chase ② to seek; to quest | ● 撲面 pok3 mihn6 = cf. 迎面 yìhng4 mihn6 = head-on; in one’s face; perhaps here “oncoming” | ● 另類 lihng6 leuih6 = ① alternative (that is, “far out; way out”) ② nonconformist | ● 起步 hei2 bouh6 = ① to start to move ② to start to do sth. | ● 通勤跑 tūng1 kàhn4 páu2 = running to work (a Japanese term)
Voice-over: The starting point for any day begins with the rising of the sun. In order to go forth to meet [迎接] our busy lives, we pack our bags and head out [整裝待發], already dashing anxiously [towards?] the starting line, either to go to work or get to school. Running has become something normal [日常] to us. While everyone is racing against time [追逐時間], there are those who leave behind the oncoming crowds, choosing an altogether different [另類] means of getting underway [起步途徑]: running to work.
● 日語漢字 Yaht6 yúh5 hon3 jih6 = approx. a Japanese word [日語] written in Chinese characters [漢字] | ● 主管 jyú2 gún2 = ① be responsible for; be in charge of ② the person in charge | ● 店長 dim3 jéung2 = store supervisor; manager | ● 河畔 hòh4 buhn6 (the standard reading)/búhn5 (a variant reading) = river bank; riverside | ● 發掘 faat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth; to explore | ● 穿越 chyūn1 yuht6 = to pass though; to cut across |● 直達 jihk6 daaht6 = usu. through; non-stop
Note: He is called Got Hang Fai in English | 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya is a Japanese ultramarathon and marathon runner from Sagamihara, Kanagawa.
Voice-over: Tung kan paau is a Japanese word written in Chinese characters, used in a book written by Ryōichi Sekiya, and means “running to work”. In charge of a clothing shop, Got Hang Fai goes by the nickname “Store Supervisor Stanley”. In 2009, he fell in love with running, and would go for a training run [練跑] along the [Shing Mun] River in Sha Tin every morning. In recent years, he became even more passionate about mountain running, and managed to figure out [發掘] a route [that enabled him] to run to work, passing through mountain forests all the way to Kowloon.
● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 沙田坳 Sāa1 Tìhn4 Aau3 = Sha Tin Pass | ● 獅子亭 Sī1 Jí2 Tìhng4 = Sha Tin Lions Pavilion | ● 落山 lohk6 sāan1 = (?) to go down a mountain | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle
Got Hang Fai: Last year, I started to go out hiking with people and became a bit more familiar with some of the mountain routes. I found that, from Sha Tin [喺沙田], if I followed the mountain road that went out to Kowloon, it was very quick. Going all the way down the mountain from the Lions Pavilion at Sha Tin Pass, I’d get to Kowloon. This shortcut wasn’t very far [out of my way (?)]. As long as you knew how to handle going up the mountain, it was OK. A few months ago roughly, after I’d started to explore this route, I [began] running to work.
葛行輝：噉我而家呢，就係 *jai 跑步同埋返工呢，係合二為一 | 我反而呢，就多咗啲時間
● 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to combine; to take several things and make them into one thing
Got Hang Fai: Now, I have turned running and going to work into one and the same thing [合而為一]. But as it turns out, I have a bit more time [for other things].
● 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey” | ● 飽覽 báau2 láahm5 = to look intensively; to feast one’s eyes on | ● 鬧市 naauh6 síh5 = the bustling city
Got Hang Fai: On this route of mine, there are ordinary level roads [平路] as well as mountain roads. However, in terms of training [訓練方面], it’s not as unvarying [單一] as running on an ordinary level road [平路]. In our everyday lives, or at work, [our] environments don’t usually have such a lot of variation [大上大落]. You can treat this as a marvellous journey — in these ten kilometres, you pass through an urban centre [城市], go halfway up a mountain, feast your eyes on a complete view of Kowloon, then you go down the mountain and run back into the bustling city. I mean, in around an hour, you experience both the busy city [鬧市] and complete peace, and the process is really quite pleasant.
● 礙 ngoih6 = to hinder; to obstruct; to be in the way of
Got Hang Fai: For instance, when it rains, going out is not very convenient, but when it comes to running, the rain is not much of a bother [冇乜大礙]. On a fine day when you run, you get all wet with sweat [濕], and on a rainy day you get wet too, the only difference being that your shoes don’t get wet on a clear day, while on a rainy day they do — that’s all there is to it [咁解啫].
● 恆常 hàhng4 sèuhng4 = ? cf. 恆 = ① permanent; lasting ② perseverance & 常 = constant; invariable | ● 修練 sāu1 lihn6 = ? (cf. 修煉 sāu1 lihn6 = (of Taoists) to practise asceticism) | ● 克服 hāk1 fuhk6 = to surmount; to overcome; to conquer| ● 惰性 doh6 sing3 = inertia | ● 好逸惡勞 hou3 yaht6 wu3 lòuh4 = love ease & hate work
Got Hang Fai: You can say that running is in fact a type of sporting activity, [but] if you persevere with running [係恆常跑] actually I think it’s a spiritual practice [修練], because you have to overcome your own set of inertias [自己一啲嘅惰性], as well as some negative moods. Human beings love ease and hate work, [so] you have to set a few different goals in the process to keep me running and so that I won’t stop.
● 山巒 sāan1 lyùhn4 = a chain of mountains | ● 歷程 lihk6 chìhng4 = a course; a career | ● 寫照 sé2 jiu3 = portrait; portraiture | ● 極限 gihk6 haahn6 = the limit; the maximum | ● 無形間 mòuh4 yìhng4 gāan1 = (?) imperceptibly; virtually | ● 屏障 pìhng4 jeung3 = protective screen (perhaps “barrier” in this context)
Voice-over: [In] the undulations of a chain of mountains, there are highs and lows, an exact portrait of the long-distance-running career of the store supervisor. In the contest — one with many challenges [挑戰多過] — to go beyond his own limits, imperceptibly a barrier was built [between him and his running].
● 路跑 louh6 páu2 = roughly, “road running” (as opposed to mountain running) | ● 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yean for | ● 鳴槍 mìhng4 chēung1 = to fire a shot (here, used to signal the start of a running race) | ● 衝線 chung1 sin3 = to breast the tape (that is, at the finishing line) | ● 厭惡 yim3 wu3 = to detest; to abhor; to abominate
Got Hang Fai: I [unclear] ran road races. [After] several years I felt that the more I ran, the less I had an impetus [動力]. At that time when I was taking part in races, gradually I came to feel that there was pressure [on me]. When I first started, it wasn’t like that. When I first began running, I longed to hear the sound of the starter pistol, and at that instant when the shot was fired, I was really extremely hopeful about what [my] time would be like after breasting the tape at the finishing-line. This went on until on one occasion [直到有一次], during that time before the race began [嗰陣時], as I waited for the starting gun to be fired, a thought popped into my head about having to run another 42 kilometres, and I felt a tinge of loathing for racing. From that year onwards, I didn’t run in races [anymore].
● 認定 yihng6 dihng6 = to firmly believe; to maintain; hold | ● 終身伴侶 jūng1 sān1 buhn6 léuih5 = a lifelong companion (referring to one’s husband or wife) | ● 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; by every possible means; by hook or by crook | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together; to maintain | ● 跑全馬 páau2 chyùhn4 máah5 = (?) to run a full marathon cf. 全程馬拉松 | ● 到手 dou3 sau2 = in one’s hands; in one’s possession | ● 動力 duhng6 lihk6 = motive/driving force; impetus | ● 包裝 bāau1 jōng1 = a pack; a package | ● 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed | ● 合而為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) combine into one
Got Hang Fai: Look, my feeling is that running is like getting married to someone. If you genuinely believe that running will be your lifelong companion, then you must maintain your relationship to it by every possible means. When I first started running, in that first one or two years, it was like the honey-moon period when you first start going out with someone — [I] was so happy. In addition, my objective was very clear: I wanted to run a full marathon. Afterwards, it as if you have got married — you have got your hands on what you wanted [到咗手]. But without you even realizing it, you discover that you don’t really have enough impetus to maintain the fire [團火] that you seemed to have all along before for running.
Voice-over: A morning class [一場早課] [helps] the store manager to get himself into the right frame of mind for work [整理好工作狀態] and although he has changed out of his running gear, he nevertheless carries his passion for running into the work space, infecting the people he works with.
● 紮紮跳 jaat3 jaat3 tiu3= the act of jumping around | ● 師奶 sī1 nāai5*1 = middle-aged woman; married woman; housewife | ● 體能 tái2 nàhng4 = physical strength | ● 半推半就 bun3 tēui1 bun3 jauh6 = yield but with a show of reluctance
Now I do all kinds of sports. The boss taught me all of them. When I was a student, I used to be very active [紮紮跳], but after I got married, basically I didn’t move. I didn’t move. (Got Hang Fai: For 20 years she didn’t move.) [Right,] I didn’t move for 20 years, not an inch. But right now I’m doing physical strength . . . (self corrects) I’m learning about physical strength, running [跑吓班], even doing some hiking, signing up for a running group [跑吓班]. And all thanks to the boss. That is . . . he . . . he . . . he sort of half pushed me and half helped me [半推半就] (Got Han Fai: No I didn’t! You did it by yourself.) Half . . . no, that’s not it . . . I . . . that is . . . that is . . . no, but . . . (Got Hang Fai: I just said a few things to [encourage] you, but it could have happened if you hadn’t been willing.)
Joanna：On my way to walk, I saw the boss. I said: “Why are you carrying your running shoes to work, slung over your shoulders like that [孭]?” He said: I finish my run before I come to work. And so I said: “If I’m so fat, would I be able to lose weight?” And he said: “You could try walking first, otherwise it would be a nuisance if you hurt a leg.”
Got Hang Fai: Previously, she didn’t have the courage to do any hill-climbing, afraid that she’d have a fall [落山]. Actually, her physical strength was inadequate. And yet she was always talking about her friends and how they went out hill-climbing. She was always going on about it, so I knew that she really wanted to give it a try. I knew about an elementary class in mountaineering [where she could learn] some hill-climbing techniques. If you grasp the techniques for climbing and going down hills, then your confidence will increase. That is, you can step outside [the limitations of] your own circle, and broaden your world. Now if you are willing to take the first step, then your world will be a bigger one. Isn’t that right?
● 攀山越 pāan1 sāan1 yuht6 líhng5 = cf. 翻山越嶺 = to cross over mountain after mountain | ● 强健體魄 kèuhng4 gihn6 tái2 paak3 = ? cf. 體魄强健 = be physically strong; have a strong constitution | ● 山賽 sāan1 choi3 = lit. “mountain contest; mountain competition” | ● 資格 jī1 gaak3 = qualifications | ● 放眼世界 fong3 ngáahn5 sai3 gaai3 = to have the whole world in view
Voice-over: Often, you have to scale mountain after mountain to reach some beautiful scenery and to be able to appreciate it in person. This store supervisor constantly trains his physical strength, to the point where he was qualified to participate in marathons held overseas or mountain competitions [山賽]. He made use of sporting events to get a whole view of the world.
● 退落職場 teui3 lohk6 jīk1 chèuhng4 = to withdraw from the work arena | ● 有氣有力 yáuh5 hei3 yáuh5 lihk6 = (?) strong cf. 有氣無力 = weak | ● 操山 chōu1 sāan1 = (?) to walk mountain trails | ● 慢跑 maahn6 páau2 = jogging; to jog | ● 觀光 gūn1 gwōng1 = to go sightseeing; visit; tour | ● 環遊世界 wàahn4 yàuh4 sai3 gaai3 = to travel the world
Got Hang Fai: Look, I am now 57 and what’s coming . . . when I’ve turned 60. I have to think about withdrawing from the work arena and about my life when I’ve retired. The first [priority] is that I stay healthy. You can only keep active if you’ve strong. So now at the moment, I’m thinking that trail walking [操山] is a good option. I can go back to doing some of the things I’d really like to do. For example, I’d like to be a back-packer, I mean, [combining] jogging with sight-seeing. It’d be a lot of fun. After I’ve turned sixty, I could really go and travel round the world in this way.
From the very first minute he opens his eyes, right up to that lyrical-miracle instant he falls through himself into sleep, Zachary’s always ― inwardly ― fiendishly busy with endless renditions of his own personal national anthem, composed in honour of the Minimal Kingdom of Zac. It might sound as if he’s saying something perfectly banal, but in his heart of hearts he goes on constantly mouthing the words of his unique song: God Save . . . Long Live . . . God Save . . . Send Him . . . Victorious . . . Happy . . . Glorious . . . Long . . . To Reign . . . Reign . . . Reign . . . And when he’s slouching in a seat; or defecating; or watching eagles turn slow circles through the air; or helping his father reset the alarm at the end ― or the beginning ― of Daylight Saving; or enjoying a moment of candle-lit mesmerization in the quiet of his bedroom; or engaged in some other faintly ridiculous Zac-bloke thing, still he upstands rather stiffly in himself, wearing that official-po-faced grovel of a look we all know so well ― from the inside ― hand over heart and eyes lifted vaguely up to the sky. It’s never for a split second a matter of TO ME OR NOT TO ME. Actually, the entire truth of Zac lies in that question perennially unasked at the absolute core of Zachary-being ― a border here, a check-point there, another sly attempt at annexation ― as he divides his world slap bang down the middle into Friend and Foe. And so it goes on, year after year after year, until one day, like a pop song that repeats and fades from our ears before reaching its last magic chord, Zac’s anthem is scratched from the score of the Earth and his kingdom, smartly erased.