Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 (訓道篇 1:2, 2:21-23)
33 X 45cm in Regular Script (楷書)
Verses from Ecclesiastes in the
Catholic Traditional Chinese Douay Version of the Bible (1
Text translation (as written in the Catholic English Douay Version of the Bible)
"Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. For when a man laboureth in wisdom, and knowledge, and carefulness, he leaveth what he hath gotten to an idle man: so this also is vanity, and a great evil. For what profit shall a man have of all his labour, and vexation of spirit, with which he hath been tormented under the sun? All his days are full of sorrows and miseries, even in the night he doth not rest in mind: and is not this vanity?"
The word "vanity (虛)" is key here. Note that this "vanity" refers not only to materialism but also to all the circumstances and emotions experienced in life such as birth, death, joy, suffering, sadness and injustice. "Vanity" refers to a hollow existence, and the Bible claims, aside from God, all processes in life are "vanities (虛)" and so are not concrete. The Chinese word "虛" is most appropriately used and applied here, since "虛" describes not only a hollow existence but also implies the meaning of "non-concrete existence (非實有)", which is remarkably consistent with Buddhist philosophy.
Ecclesiastes is certainly one of my favorite books in the Bible since it attempts to explain suffering, injustice and other hardships in life. Ecclesiastes is one of the shorter books in the Bible and is certainly worth reading if you have the time.
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