Poems of Meng Jiao
Taking Good Care of Myself
I've done all I can, in my eyes,
To seize a poem that men can understand.
The old literary ways make me sad.
I'm afraid those old gentlemen are angry with me.
Wretched, I tear up what I've written.
I can tell what expresses the real essence.
Then I sit, contented, cold, into the night,
Grateful for the spring wine brings my heart.
Disciples have all the old words.
I'm ashamed of nothing. My silence is new.
It's a shock to realize Kongzi was mistaken.
Gradually, I am coming to Buddha.
Kongzi is Confucious. "Mistaken" is a pretty strong word to use for Meng Jiao's world. Much of Meng Jiao's language has been Daoist. And here he is coming to the Buddha in a Confucian society. The three ways of thought are not really exclusive in Tang China.
Confucianism is more like a societal norm. Buddhism in China, especially Chan Buddhism (禅) is greatly influenced by Daoism. Chan, or Zen, and Daoism wax and wane repeatedly in influence due to each emperor's preference. Historically speaking, without taking anyone's dogma into account, it is impossible to sort out which is the original: Chan or Dao. If you read ancient texts on Sitting Forgetting, from either "religion", they read the same. Only the ends differ, never the means.
I feel like Meng Jiao is still struggling here with the influence of his younger friend, Han Yu, and Han's ideas of Old Writing (古文). Meng Jiao seems very close to his friend. But he is not satisfied with the path of recovering pre-Tang poetry. This is because Meng Jiao is upon his own way, neither Tang nor Pre-Tang. I don't think he's clearly realized this fact in himself at this point. Or, perhaps, at this exact point, he has.