An old pine stays forever green 老松壽綠 翻譯 英譯 Translation - Vincent's Calligraphy

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An old pine stays forever green
13 X 48cm
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An old pine stays forever green
18 X 52cm in Clerical Script (隸書)

Background Information
This verse can be used as a birthday greeting, especially for greeting those who are of age.  "Old pine (老松)" is a metaphor for an elderly person while "stays forever green (壽綠)" is a metaphor for long-lasting vitality (or ever-lasting youth).  The word "壽" in this context carries the meaning of "long lasting/everlasting (長久)" (1) in additional to longevity, and hence "壽綠" here is translated as "stays forever (壽) green (綠)".

Note that this particular work is also related to my previous work "壽 (longevity)", which is also commonly used as a birthday greeting in Chinese societies.

Personal Comments
How can one stay vital, happy and full of youthfulness as one ages?  A challenging question, yet perhaps the Bible and the Buddhist Heart Sutra can offer us some insight into this question:

  • In the Bible, Jesus disclosed to us the importance of "becoming a little child":

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1–4)

This particular teaching certainly does not mean we should all become ignorant or live with unquestioning obedience towards authority like little children without independent thinking.  Rather, we should "imitate their innocence, sincerity, exemption from malice, from envy and duplicity" (2).  Furthermore, "we must represent the state of infancy as a state of simplicity, in which one is attached merely to his father and mother, incapable of hating anyone, desires neither riches nor honours, wholly innocent and free from vices, and from pride—of all vices, the greatest" (3).  It is therefore extremely evident, according to Jesus, that losing one's innocence puts one's salvation in jeopardy, for one must remain humble and simply to receive the Gift of Life offered by God.  

As one ages, it is common for one to become more sophisticated, greedy, scheming, un-empathetic and calculating; eventually, one loses one's initial childish innocence and develops cynicism towards the world.  This type of mental progression usually increases one's stress, taxes one's mind with unnecessary thoughts and drains one's energy which ultimately accelerates one's rate of physical aging.  Therefore, to maintain youthfulness, one must rid of unnecessary desires and remain as a simply person without excessive materialistic ambitions -- a mental state that is extremely hard to achieve in today's increasing materialistic world full of deceptions and temptations.

  • In the Buddhist Heart Sutra, the text explicitly suggests one to "stay away from delusional dreams (遠離顚倒夢想)" in order to transcend into the ultimate state of "Nirvana(涅槃)".  It is then reasonable to deduce these delusional dreams, which include unnecessary cravings and lust for worldy powers, are detrimental to one's mental well-being which may lead to suffering and premature aging(4).  This is in parallel with Catholic and Christian teachings as discussed above.

KS Vincent Poon June 15, 2017

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