Monday, February 27, 2012

Lin Yutang: "Earthbound" part 2

"The situation, then, is this: man wants to live, but he still must live upon this earth.

. . . . .

For we are of the earth, earth-born and earth-bound. There is nothing to be unhappy about the fact that we are, as it were, delivered upon this beautiful earth as its transient guests. Even if it were a dark dungeon, we still would have to make the best of it; it would be ungrateful of us not to do so when we have, instead of a dungeon, such a beautiful earth to live on for a good part of a century. Sometimes we get too ambitious and disdain the humble and yet generous earth. Yet a sentiment for this Mother Earth, a feeling of true affection and attachment, one must have for this temporary abode of our body and spirit, if we are to have a sense of spiritual harmony.

We have to have, therefore, a kind of animal skepticism as well as animal faith, taking this earthly life largely as it is. And we have to retain the wholeness of nature that we see in Thoreau who felt himself kin to the sod and partook largely of its dull patience, in winter expecting the sun of spring, who in his cheapest moments was apt to think that it was not his business to be "seeking the spirit," but as much the spirit's business to seek him, and whose happiness, as he described, was a good deal like that of the wood-chucks. The earth, after all, is real, as the heaven is unreal; how fortunate is man that he is born between the real earth and the unreal heaven!"

(to be concluded)

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