Poems of Meng Jiao
For My Master
Each dipper of water that flows to the sea is
Inferior to those flowing into dry ponds.
Clarified by your worthy company
Who could look on luxury?
The ocean lack currents as
Grandeur lack substance.
Dried scales are soon moistened as
Poor scholars are soon remade.
Fate sees the places of gentlemen
Will pass into lonely, dark times.
When you hear them talking of goodness,
They're like gold, overfull cups of wine.
This way and its demonstration
Shine as one, forever.
We have no way of knowing who Meng Jiao's Buddhist master is at this period. Someone as serious about Buddhism as Meng Jiao is would have more than one master over time.
It is interesting that, for Meng Jiao at least, the ocean is simply the still repository for the world's water. It is possible that, in the Tang, motion on the sea was seen entirely as motion induced by wind. I have no idea when mankind became aware of ocean currents.
The bigram 日月 has several meanings relating to the sun (日) and moon (月). But it is also often used as "life and livelihood," as we have seen in other poems. For Meng Jiao, Buddhism is not merely dogmatic or doctrinal. It is practical.
One more thing strikes me about Meng Jiao in this poem. He seems to genuinely love simplicity in the way Henry Thoreau did. The two would probably have gotten along well together.