365 Days for Travelers: Oct 12

HIDDEN DESERT SPRING (EXCERPT)

Behind the tree was a humble dwelling, from which,
as I hesitated, emerged an old Buddhist nun.
Chanting beads in her hands and a densely wrinkled
but peaceful face. I intended to ask why she was
alone, and why she made this place her eternal
abode. How old was she upon her first arrival?
Eventually, I found such inquisitions for a Buddhist
practitioner too blunt and awkward.

Boundless deserts and surging rivers are no miracles
to the world. Except for this particular bay amidst
the heaps of sands, this quietude in the sandstorms,
this scenery within the desolation, and this drop
behind the high slopes. Only these can embody
deeply the rhythms of heaven and earth. Only such
ingenious creations can make hearts enchanted.

In this line of reasoning, the same should be applied
to life, the world, and history. Remedy the hustle and
bustles by a measure of serenity, restlessness by
calmness, extravagance by simplicity, and
coarseness by finesse. Only by doing so would life
be spiritual, and only by doing so would the world
appear refined, and history tasteful. However, in our
daily lives, we are accustomed to all sorts of
single-sided extremes. Even the forces of nature are
so vulgar that they neglect to make fine adjustments
to the environment, thus burdening the world.

As such, the nun’s solitary watch becomes
reasonable. Having listened to an entire night of
howling desert wind from inside her humble room,
her sound faculties are immediately cleansed by the
quiet morning springs. Having seen enough
verdancy in the spring, what greets her eyes
immediately upon raising her head would be the
splendid sand cliffs.

The mountain, known as Mount Mingsha; the spring,
known as Yueya Spring, both of which are located in
the Dunhuang County.