By Peter Y. Chou,

Line in Poem Literary Sources
It's spring again— robins and the bear,
evening and morning— the first day.
Hear the truth: insight— a clear lake,
calm mind— joy everywhere.
Emily Dickinson, Poem 82; Haydn, Symphony 82
Genesis I.5 (word 82 = evening) (1000 BC)
Buddha, Dhammapada, Verse 82 (240 BC)
Astavakra Gita, 18.82 (400 BC)
Listen— learn wisdom near the fire,
heaven and earth mutually merge.
A young woman before the gate
enjoys the blessings of fortune.
Book of Enoch, 82.3 (64 BC); Gospel of Thomas 82 (150 AD)
Tung-fang Shuo, Ling Ch'i Ching, 82 (400 AD)
Tung-fang Shuo, Ling Ch'i Ching, 82
Tung-fang Shuo, Ling Ch'i Ching, 82
Look at the moon, not the pointing finger.
Be self-reliant, energy will come.
Flowers cover the hillside—
find me a Sophy's Rose,
clear moon, cool wind, wintry pine.
Lankavatara Sutra, VI.82 (440 AD)
Bodhicayavatara, V.82 (700 AD)
Blue Cliff Records, Case 82 (1052 AD)
Sophy's Rose has 82 petals
Blue Cliff Records, Case 82
A sage with neither words nor silence
in the Potter's house, surrounded by clay,
takes a fiddle or flute and plays—
"Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kiss the earth."
Blue Cliff Records, Case 82 (1052)
Omar Khayyam, Rubáiyát, 82 (1122)
Rumi, Ode 82 (1273)
Rumi, Ode 82
Rumi, Ode 82
Learn a new sound, see a new sight—
the precious pearls of the Orient
the loveliest grey-blue eyes
my Muse blessing every book
to seek anew shining chariots
and horses, enlightened minds—
Perseus, Hercules, Jonah, Vishnu
swimming in space
endless time.
Dante, Paradiso I.82 (1321)
Pearl Poet, Pearl, Line 82 (1400)
Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Line 82 (1400)
Shakespeare, Sonnet 82.1,4 (1616)
Shakespeare, Sonnet 82.7; Worlds in Space, 82
Swedenborg, Worlds in Space, Section 82 (1758)
Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 82 (1851)
Whitman, Passage to India 82.1 (1871);
Tagore, Gitanjali, Verse 82 (1912)
Nights pass, ages bloom
flowers fade, no time to lose
this priceless Hour
say nothing— let me go
at the present moment I see my way
O friend, welcome! In this new life
we're united again— Love,
enter my eyes with your skies.
Tagore, Gitanjali, Verse 82 (1912)
Tagore, Gitanjali, Verse 82
Emily Dickinson, New Poem, 82 (1874)
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 82.8-9 (1939)
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 82.34-35
Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets, Sonnet 82.8-9 (1960)
Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets, Sonnet 82.10
Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets, Sonnet 82.3

Meditation Notes to Poem:

This poem was written in honor of my mentor Professor Harold A. Scheraga's 82nd birthday on October 18, 2003. Harold is still active doing research on protein folding. I was fortunate to spend seven happy years in his lab at Cornell learning about polypeptides and proteins, but probably even more about the passion of doing something that we love dearly— hence the title of this poem from a line of Rumi's Ode 82. For the context of sources for the lines, consult my web page On Number 82 to see how this poem was constructed. Despite the difference in space and time of the composition of each line, what unites these writers quoted is the number 82. That is, the writer's words appeared in verse 82, sonnet 82, chapter 82, line 82, or page 82. This poem came down like a cascade of waterfall and is arranged essentially in chronological order from Genesis (1000 B.C.) or Buddha's Dhammapada (240 B.C.) to Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets (1960).

It's spring again— robins and the bear:
robin The 82nd day of the year is March 23 or March 22 for a leap year. Since the Spring Equinox falls on March 21 in 2003, this poem on 82 begins with "It's spring again". Since word 82 in Genesis is "evening" ("and the morning were the first day" Genesis I.5), the idea of "first day" & "genesis" sets a good tone for the beginning of this poem. Robins are harbingers of spring and appears in line 6 of Emily Dickinson's Poem 82. Bears hibernate in winter and come out in the spring. The bear is cited here because Haydn's Symphony 82 is nicknamed "The Bear" as the bass drone and chortling bassoons in the finale conjured images of a dancing bear in the minds of the symphony's first audiences.

heaven and earth mutually merge:
Yin-Yang The original line from Tung-fang Shuo's Ling Ch'i Ching is "yin and yang mutually interpenetrate". Yang is associated with heaven, day, light, white, and male. Yin is associated with earth, night, dark, black, and female. The Yin-Yang symbol or Tai-Chi symbol shows a black teardrop nestled with a white teardrop. But within each teardrop is a tiny dot of its opposite color. Philosophically, it means that at the height of day (noon), when the sun is at its zenith, the element of night is creeping in. And at midnight, the element of day is inching forward. That's why at Winter Solstice (December 22), the darkest time of the year (8 hours sunlight), we celebrate Christmas. Christos "the light bringer" is born and from this moment onward, each day becomes brighter until the Summer Solstice (June 21) when we experience 16 hours of sunlight. Then each day gets darker again. (Allen Tsai's essay: "Where does the Yin Yang Symbol come from?")

A young woman/blessings of fortune:
Fortuna, called Tyche by the Greeks is the goddess of fortune. She was a daughter of Zeus, and sister to the Moerae. Often represented as winged, Fortuna has her eyes blindfolded. With a double rudder, she was conceived as the divinity guiding and conducting the affairs of the world. Standing on a ball or wheel, she represents the vissitudes of fortune. With the cornucopia or the horn of Amalthea, she was the symbol of the plentiful gifts of fortune.

Look at the moon, not the pointing finger:
A favorite teaching of the Zen masters— the pointer is not the pointed.
If you look at the finger pointing to the moon, you'll never see the moon.
If you cling to the sign "Boston 50 miles", you'll never reach Boston.
If you just read the menu, you'll never taste the meal.
If you just study the scriptures, you'll never experience enlightenment.

Sophy's find me a Sophy's Rose:
The Sophy's Rose is an English tea rose which bears 82 petals. But the word Sophy is derived from Sophia or wisdom. And the celestial rose is Dante's symbol for paradise. Hence, Sophy's Rose is a symbol for enlightened wisdom.
Symbolism of the Rose in Alchemy
Rose Colors, Trivia, & Legends
Color symbolism of roses
The Rose in History

A sage with neither words nor silence:
Often a Zen Master will ask a student to respond to a koan (illogical question), accepting neither words nor silence in response. Most students are baffled, but the wise one will perform an act appropriate to the moment and occasion.
See Mumonkan Case 34.

the Potter's house, surrounded by clay:
In making pottery from clay, the Potter uses the four elements—
earth— the raw material of clay
water— to wet the clay to shape its form
fire— to bake the pot in a kiln to solidify it
air— oxygen needed for the combustion of fire
In Sankhya philosophy, the potter is the efficient cause and the clay the material cause. Other examples: The weaver spins cotton to make cloth. The baker kneads dough to make bread. The spider spins silk to make a web. Is God then, the efficient cause of this universe (material cause)?

Rubaiyat 60 of Omar Khayyam:
And, strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried—
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot ?"

"The Potter's House" in Jeremiah, 18:1-6:
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter:
  so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD.
  Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

"The Potter and the Pot" in Isaiah, 64:8:
But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay,
and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

The Potter & the Writer

Perseus, Hercules, Jonah, Vishnu/swimming in space:
Hercules Herman Melville refers to these mythological heroes as whale hunters in Chapter 82 of Moby Dick. Walt Whitman sings "O, vast Rondure, swimming in space!" in line 82 of Passage to India. It's interesting to note that all these heroes have constellations associated with them.
Perseus constellation (Mythology)
Hercules constellation (Mythology)
Cetus "The Whale" constellation (Mythology)
Aquila constellation (Three stars— Vishnu's footprints)

In this new life/we're united again—Love/enter my eyes with your skies:
These words may be found in Neruda's Love Sonnet 82 but the images are from Dante's La Vita Nuova (1294). The death of Beatrice in 1290 catapulted Dante to a new life. He felt more united than ever to his beloved. The girl whom he fell in love with when he was 9, would be praised in his poetry. Dante vowed to write a poem to honor Beatrice that has never been written of any woman. Dante fulfilled this promise 27 years later just before his death, when he finished La Commedia (1321)— the greatest love poem about the soul's ascent to Paradise. It's interesting to note that the vehicle of Dante's flight was not some spaceship but via Beatrice's eyes ( Paradiso I). Her skies of infinities entered Dante's eyes and in so doing, he experienced "the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (10-22-2003)