Be careful! You’ve been warned. Confucius say . . . (well, not Confucius, 12th century poet Yang Wanli actually):
Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.
It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.
This is translated by Joanthan Chaves and comes from Zen Poems: Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, and was reproduced by Maria Popova in a Brain Pickings post. Thanks to Andy Ambraziejus for the link.