François Cheng (born 30/08/1929) – Cheng Chi-hsien (程纪贤) is a Chinese writer, poet and calligrapher, he was naturalized French in 1971.
I knew him through these interviews on the web and I admire him a lot. I love his author name which is 程抱一 (Chéng bào yī) which means “Who embraces Unity”. This is exactly what I feel in his words and scriptures. He forcefully embraces this Life in all its splendor, its purity by being one with Life!
“As I grow older, I return to the essential form of the quatrain. The quatrain is special in that it is the most concentrated form, but it has a very complex content. It is a diamond that radiates in all directions.”François Cheng
I found this beautiful and intriguing, and it prompted me to discover his work “At Last the Kingdom”! It is a beautiful journey where each word invites us to enter his kingdom, to savor the present moment, to pick up the wonders of life, to marvel at the inexhaustible beauty of life, to love the words that poetically reflect our thoughts and emotions. I’ve picked out a few quatrains that I find particularly beautiful and that inspire me in the path I’m taking.
Dare to live!
Quand survient l’heure nous nous donnons à la flamme
Du cœur. Éclatent en nous les couleurs de l’arc-en-ciel :
Du jaune au rouge en passant par l’orange, le roux…
Tant de passions aux entrailles que nous avions tues !
When the time comes we give ourselves to the flame
Of the heart. The colors of the rainbow shine in us:
From yellow to red, passing by orange, red…
So many passions in the entrails that we had kept silent!
I like these words “The flame of the heart”. Besides, in a couple we talk about keeping the flame alive because nothing is taken for granted. What about your own flame, the flame of the heart? Let it shine in the daylight! Let’s be creative and listen to our dreams, connected to our inner self. It is by seeking to realize our small and big dreams that we live and that we strengthen our flame! To stifle our aspirations is to condemn ourselves to deny what we are or want to be.
Se laisser miner par les abîmes, fracasser
Par les tracas, ou mordre par le remords… Vivre,
C’est tendre vers l’ultime noyaux, au travers
Des épreuves de tout ; c’est se laisser taillader.
To let oneself be undermined by the abyss, shattered
By worries, or bitten by remorse… To live,
It is to tend towards the ultimate core, through
Of the trials of all; it is to let oneself be slashed.
Sometimes in life, we must dare to take risks even if the unknown scares us. Trials are necessary to teach us to know ourselves, to surpass ourselves by overcoming them. Life reveals its hidden face in its dramas. We emerge resilient, stronger in the face of adversity.
Marry our differences
Le sort de la bougie est de brûler
Quand monte l’ultime volute de fumée,
Elle lance une invite en guise d’adieu :
« Entre deux feux sois celui qui éclaire ! »
Celle qui jaillit de la Nuit ;
Et vraie Nuit,
Celle d’où jaillit la Lumière.
Ton âme, tu la sais sans la voir, mais tu vois
Celle d’un autre quand il s’émeut ou se confie.
Miracle des regards croisés, fenêtre ouverte :
Voyant l’âme de l’autre, la tienne tu perçois.
The candle’s fate is to burn
When the last wisp of smoke rises,
It launches an invitation by way of farewell:
“Between two fires be the one who lights!”
That which springs from the Night;
And true Night,
The one from which the Light springs.
Your soul, you know it without seeing it, but you see
That of another when he is moved or confides.
Miracle of the crossed glances, open window:
Seeing the soul of the other, yours you perceive.
What if we stopped seeing life as a duality: bad-good, good-bad, good-evil, poor-rich, but instead embrace our differences without judgment. To say that life is composed of different people who think and act differently from us. Each one of us has its own history and its own set of wounds, and in this we are not different from the other. He can be us. We are interdependent.
Le trait, empreinte du souffle, est trait d’union
Reliant yin et yang, terre et ciel, eau et flamme,
Bleu et rouge, vert et jaune, mort et vie, flèche
Par laquelle prend son envol toute ton âme.
The line, imprint of the breath, is a link
Linking yin and yang, earth and sky, water and flame,
Blue and red, green and yellow, death and life, arrow
By which your whole soul takes flight.
I know that this quatrain alludes to calligraphy because François Cheng dabbles in calligraphy and I also started to learn a little. It is a whole art, this connection to oneself to realize this perfect line to form a character in the space time… it made me think of the book of youth the great story of a small line, where this line is the beginning of a beautiful adventure, that of our History, our soul! I like this image very much…
The beauty of nature
Sur fond de brume, l’aube dessine
Un ruisseau bordé de saules,
Et puis, tout au bas du ciel,
Elle appose, rouge, le sceau.
L’aile de l’orfraie, frôlant
Le feuillage, fait tomber
L’ultime goutte de pluie
Sur l’étang, miroir brisé…
La nature, en nous, opère ses métamorphoses,
Dragon se rêvant phénix, et lys libellule.
Monts et mers, vaste réserve, inépuisable,
Que contient pourtant ce cœur nôtre, minuscule.
On a background of mist, the dawn draws
A stream lined with willows,
And then, at the bottom of the sky,
It affixes, red, the seal.
The wing of the osprey, brushing
The foliage, makes fall
The last drop of rain
On the pond, broken mirror…
The nature, in us, operates its metamorphoses,
Dragon dreaming himself phoenix, and lily dragonfly.
Mountains and seas, vast reserve, inexhaustible,
That contains however this heart of ours, tiny.
Once again, I let myself be carried away by the beauty of nature which does not cheat. And under François Cheng’s gaze, I perceive a new sensitivity, refined and poetic. It is observed and admired. It is an inexhaustible source.
Lorsque nous nous parlons,
Le rêve est à venir ;
Lorsque nous nous taisons,
Il est là, à cueillir.
Plaisir d’amour, comment le préserver
sinon en aimant d’amour ;
Chagrin d’amour, comment le surmonter
sinon en aimant l’Amour ?
Tremblement de l’être quand l’amour nous tient ;
Ravissement de l’être quand l’amour nous porte.
L’éclat du jour est un visage qui éveille,
Et la flamme de la nuit un regard qui veille.
When we talk to each other,
The dream is coming;
When we are silent,
It is there, to be plucked.
Pleasure of love, how to preserve it
If not by loving with love;
Heartache, how to overcome it
if not by loving Love?
Trembling of the being when love holds us;
Rapture of being when love carries us.
The brightness of the day is a face that awakens,
And the flame of the night a glance which watches.
Love is never far away. It is already within us. Let’s live in the present moment and welcome it within us! It envelops us in different ways. Throughout our lives, we continue to explore the word love. This word love, so complicated to live because of our fears… but so beautiful if we nourish it!
To feel gratitude
Nous rions nous trinquons, en nous défilent les blessés,
Les meurtris ; nous leur devons d’être en vie, car vivre,
C’est savoir que tout instant vivant est rayon d’or
Sur un océan de ténèbres, c’est savoir dire merci.
L’arbre donne le fruit ; la terre donne l’arbre ;
Le ciel donne la terre, ciel venu du pur don.
Nous sommes fruits nous portons fruit ; jour après jour,
Nous prenons part à la Voie de la Donation.
We laugh, we toast, the wounded parade through us,
The bruised; we owe it to them to be alive,
because to live,
It is to know that every living moment is a golden ray
On an ocean of darkness,
it is to know how to say thank you.
The tree gives the fruit; the earth gives the tree;
The sky gives the earth, the sky comes from the pure gift.
We are fruit we bear fruit; day after day,
We take part in the Way of the Gift.
Saying thank you… Gratitude is a very powerful thought that allows us to feel positive emotions, to be grateful for what we are experiencing in the present moment, to be more receptive to the treasures we come across on our way. We transform our lives every day, are less affected when a negative event occurs in our lives, and manage to transform it and find something positive in it. Because everything has a meaning.
Life is eternal
Ce qui peut être dit est dit comme en passant ;
Gardera son secret ce qui est indicible.
Un regard un toucher emplissent leurs pensées ;
Il leur faut, pour tout dire, une autre éternité.
Une grande chose a lieu : l’univers ? non, la Vie.
C’est là l’unique aventure, sublime et tragique.
Pour que la vie soit vie, la mort incontournable ;
Seule la Voie ne meurt pas, qui l’épouse a sa part.
What can be said is said as if in passing;
What is unspeakable will remain a secret.
A look a touch fills their thoughts;
They need, to say everything, another eternity.
A great thing takes place: the universe? no, Life.
This is the only adventure, sublime and tragic.
For life to be life, death is unavoidable;
Only the Way does not die, who marries it has its share.
Do not be afraid to live, nor to die. You know very well that our finality on this earth is death. So it is the path you walk that counts, have the courage to be yourself and to shine. It is the only way that does not die because you are lights and touch the hearts of men. This is how you remain eternal…
Did you like these quatrains? When I read them, I have this pleasant feeling of touching the very essence of all life, I felt fully at home in my kingdom through these words! It was a magical moment! What about you? What is the quatrain that makes your being vibrate?