Five Things was written on 23 October 2001. The text is Thomas Cleary's translation* of a Song Dynasty (10th to 13th century) letter to a Zen Master Xiang:

  • What has been long neglected cannot be restored immediately.

  • Ills that have been accumulating for a long time cannot be cleared away immediately.

  • One cannot enjoy oneself forever.

  • Human emotions cannot be just.

  • Calamity cannot be avoided by trying to run away from it.

Anyone who has realized these five things can be in the world without misery.

Five Things is November 14th in my ongoing project A Book of Days.

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Here is a live recording, performed by the Robin Cox Ensemble on clarinet, cello, and woodblock, with me doing the text:

Here is a score of the piece in pdf format. While I originally envisioned it for flute, bassoon, and woodblock, I'm open to you reorchestrating it for your ensemble; let me know what you have in mind.

The visual artist Judson Wright has made a video to accompany live performances of the piece. Please contact me for more information about the video.

And you are warmly invited to support this very low-key way of publishing:

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* From Zen Lessons, translated by Thomas Cleary, © 1989 by Thomas Cleary. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. www.shambhala.com.