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The Sea and I


The sea gasps.

The sea roars.

Suddenly, the edge of the waves brush past my feet.

Feeling lonely and small,

It’s as if the sea uses

Its vastness

Its breadth

Its boundlessness

To embrace me.

I walk along the sand, close to the undulating waters.

Again and again, I hear my heart’s sharp cries:

“Why do I see ‘myself’ as so important?”

“Why is this ‘I’ so enchanting, so easy to drown in?”

Why not break free of this shell that “I” have burrowed into!

After all, it’s a puppet chained to its senses, thoughts, and feelings,

Mechanically following the habits it has accumulated throughout time,

Heading towards a direction I cannot control.

I want to break the chains that bind me to how I perceive, think, and feel so that it’s possible to recognize what the mind has always been.

My interest in this mind–this mental continuum–is beyond anything else!

I watch it as it’s eating, after it has eaten;

Exploring it as it’s happy, as it’s sad.

When going out, I discover it’s a little rushed, because it dreams of reaching the shoreline in just one step.

When walking on the sand, it’s not happy because the path is unsafe and ugly–bare sand, growing vines and thorny grasses. But when it notices some vines flowering, a cherishing feeling arises.

Yet, when a suggestion to walk on the grass is made, it doesn’t want to go.

Because that path is a little farther and will take a little longer to reach the sea.

To reach the sea of its dreams even a moment sooner,

It chooses to walk the thorny road–

A boundless destination is the most enticing.


Walking on the beach, what do you want to do?

If you want to bask in the sun, you won’t be under an umbrella;

If you’re afraid of the sun, you’ll apply sunscreen;

If your goal is to collect shells, you won’t mind the waves rushing over your clothes. Even if your body is soaked through, for a beautiful shell you’ll be willing to walk along the shallows as the waves rush over you. Again and again, as long as they bring exquisite shells, you’ll feel like the waves are bringing gifts!–even if one suddenly washes over your head or instantly soaks you through; even if it’s sundown and the water is cold, with the exquisite shells in your hands you’ll barely have time to marvel, much less pay mind to the cold sea and your wet clothes!

So with regards to your mind, the most important question is–

What do you want?

What is your goal?

If your goal is to use all of life’s waves to discover goodness as beautiful as the exquisite shells,

To display them one by one in the palace of your memories–

This fortune can be yours forever.

Then, you won’t worry about others–

Their judgment,

Even if their words pour over you.

Their treatment,

Even if their attitude is like a gust of cold wind.

You’ll find yourself focusing on the shells of goodness in your hands.


As you cherish them.

If you’re among people who are willing to weather the cold and waves together,

Wading again and again through difficulties–

What a blessing!


For precious shells

Brave the water.



Translated by Amrita Translation Foundation
Author: Zhen-Ru
Translator: Kacy Lin
Editors: Ven. Heather, Ven. Sabrina, Ven. Joanna, Ven. Elena, Ven. Sonia, Ven. Tina, Lori Wu, Jingli Wang

Sound effects obtained from https://www.zapsplat.com

Sound effects obtained from https://www.zapsplat.com

Readers’ Messages

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  • Andrew

    I have lived beside the sea on Cape Cod for most of my life , this poem brings back all of my most cherished memories!

  • Kuang Kao

    Thank you master. I will be brave. ✌️

  • Jinmei

    How I want to break the chains that bind me to how I perceive, think, and feel so as to recognize what the mind has always been!YOU will help me, won't you, my dearest teaher?

  • Kuang Kao

    I feel like I'm surfing on my surf board across the sea to the place where master 真如 is. The sunshine, and the cloud is following the path where every sentient beings all wanna go! Smile with a chill mind no matter what happened outside ^^

    10 Reply
  • Michael Gaudet

    Many times I have gone to the ocean. A place where problems were washed away by the insignificance of one so small carrying the weight of thoughts. Now when walking I have the mantra's of the sages that hold and keep me in the moment. Thank you Teacher, "For precious shells, Brave the water, Walk."

    16 Reply
  • Osel

    Dear teacher, you've taught me to choose hope over despair. I have never known that the beach can deliver such a feeling to oneself. Today you have brought me to walk on the beach. I will try to always come to the beach and walk on it. My deepest gratitude to teacher.

    15 Reply
  • Viriya Chang

    The poem tells us that when we desire something, we must be brave and pursue it. Overall, my opinion of this poem is that it is inspirational and awakens some urge to find what you seek.

    21 Reply
  • Ann clow

    I rejoice in your Beautiful words of wisdom and positiveness and together with the sound of the soothing ocean brings peace to my soul

    24 Reply