At a Time

At a Time

 

At a time when the world searched for meaning many looked to the blossoming of culture in the arts. It was a time when the new rich billionaires sought justification for their greed and in some cases their exploitation to acquire their fortunes. Many became philanthropists Some even formed a worldwide association; no doubt, so they could mutually pat each other on the back for the amount of money they gave away to various charities and causes or how many buildings they had sponsored and named after them. Moreover there seemed to be a large number of philanthropists that became lavish patrons of the arts. By which reason that poets, painters, actors and musicians flocked to Sydney; making it the Mecca of the most artistically forward thinking repository of the arts in its era. Further to this, the great poet and sage Joshua was invited to the patronage of one such philanthropist where he initially enjoyed the splendours and comforts accorded to one thought of in such high standing. But after a few weeks of celebrity he payed his respects to his patron as indeed he knew this is not the place of beautiful naturalist poetry. He decided to retire to a hermit’s cottage in the mountains. It was here that Joshua was to compose his loveliest Taoist poem. During this time he had to himself, his former patron sent one of his senior executives to announce that his poetry was extremely popular in Sydney but was also becoming well known in every cultural city in the world. Would he return? So that people could enjoy his presence and his occasional recitations and the patron could of course the prestige of being his patron. But, to the elegantly attired and sweet smelling messenger, already dismayed by his journey into this place so wild and comfortless Joshua answered that he would not go and declined the hidden offer.

“What!” exclaimed the flabbergasted executive, who was not used to having the generous financial gifts of his boss refused. His lip curling as he surveyed Joshua’s hovel,

“What in the world is there to detain you in a place like this?” Joshua’s answer was very light and unassuming but so charming that the messenger had no reply.

 

You ask me why I live

Amidst these multi shaded green hills?

And I cannot but smile.

There is no spoken language that can convey

The stillness in my heart.

The pink lilies that bloom on the water,

How enchantingly they drift!

The distant mountains and forests

The hills and the fields

Fill me with overflowing delight

Nor is that joy ended

When grief comes rushing in.

I live in another realm here

Beyond the world of men.

 

Knowing how greatly Joshua was influenced by Taoist thought, can we perhaps take the concluding words to suggest that his peaceful contemplation of nature had given him an inkling of what it is to attain a more than human state? Stillness signifies the state of mind essential to intuitive perception of the way. The morning lilies drifting on the water are, perhaps, just a random example of the manifold beauties of nature around him, beauties compared with which the glittering splendours of the city seem cheap and corrupted. Joshua was so deeply imbued with the spirit and the charm of nature that his life itself had become his sermon.

John Audet

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