May the joy that
is everlasting gather in this hall. Not the joy of a
sumptuous feast, which slips away even as we leave the
table; nor that which music brings—it is only of a limited
duration. Beauty and a pretty face are like flowers;
they bloom for a while, then die. Even our youth slips
swiftly away and is gone.
No, enduring happiness is not in these, nor in the three
joys of Jung Kung. We may as well forget them, for the
joy I mean is worlds away from these.
It is the joy of continuous growth, of helping to develop
in ourselves and others the talents and abilities with
which we were born—the gifts of heaven to mortal men.
It is to revive the exhausted and to rejuvenate that
which is in decline, so that we are enabled to dispel
sickness and suffering.
Let true affection and happy concourse abide in this
hall. Let us here correct our past mistakes and lose
preoccupation with self. With the constancy of the planets
in their courses or of the dragon in his cloud wrapped
path, let us enter the land of health and ever after
walk within its bounds.
Let us fortify ourselves against weakness and learn
to be self reliant, without ever a moment's lapse. Then
our resolution will become the very air we breathe,
the world we live in; then we will be as happy as a
fish in crystal waters. This is the joy which lasts,
that we can carry with us to the end of our days. And
tell me, if you can; what greater happiness can life
New York City, 1973
This poem by Professor Cheng, hung in the Tai Chi studio
on 87 Bowery.