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  • James Tam 谭炳昌

Blue Moon Nirvana  藍月涅槃

A few days ago, on my way to evening meditation at Dong Shan ( link to Shadows of Cave Mountain), I was captivated by the moon. It was a “blue moon”, a rare event in the Gregorian calendar, happening only once in a blue moon, golden in colour. It was also the 15th day of the second moon according to the Chinese lunar calendar — Buddha’s Nirvana Day, and the 31st of April 2018, Easter Saturday, the only Christian holiday which follows the lunar cycle. Jesus had just been hammered into his passionate version of Nirvana about two millennia ago, holding his breath until Monday. Coincidence never fails to intrigue.

三月三十一日是阴历二月十五,当我缓步轻声走往洞山禅堂途中(洞山禪影 鏈接),突然被天上的月光迷住了。天边挂着金黄色的“蓝月亮”。 原来蓝月只不过是阳历同一月内出现的第二个月圆,并非天文奇景,也不蓝色。至于因何得名,则无从考究。由于不常发生,被视为罕见,所以有 “once in a blue moon” 之说。刚巧当晚为佛祖的涅槃日,也是基督教唯一的阴历节日复活节。据说念耶稣大约两千年前被刽子手钉进了临时涅槃,闭气三天后再重现江湖。


I meditated on the moon, hypnotised by the chirpy chirrups of late spring insects. A wordless lunar ode began to form. But the right words had long been exhausted by poets, storytellers, religionists, and lovers moonstruck by the only heavenly object reachable from a tall mountain. Just keep climbing, and reach out.

The moon makes us tides, and calms the Earth’s spin. Without it, our planet would be very different. Humans probably won’t exist. Or, if we did, we might look like scorpions, or unicorns, or cockroaches. Now that we think we understand 5% of the universe, now that we have catalogues, our lunar mother, the ultimate Tai Yin, is only a notch or two above roaming space debris in the astronomical hierarchy, a celestial pet on a tight orbital leash.


We no longer have time for the moon. In the cities, it’s blocked by buildings, overwhelmed by artificial lights. Up there is just a piece of lonely rock: barren, scorching, freezing, with a mysterious dark-side which we harass like bullies. “Hey honey, show me your face!”

“The Moon Represents My Heart,” sang Teresa Tang. Lovers are over the moon about the senseless lyrics, refusing to recognise the cold dark side, out of sight but always there. My heart is like the moon. Don’t say you haven’t been warned, my love. Werewolves still howl at the full moon. Nobody hears them anymore. Nobody except the lunatics.

The only honest words left for my lunar ode were big, round, bright and low, words poets disdain. I went for my camera instead, before the golden blue moon too entered Nirvana.


除了恋人,传说中的人狼也会在月圆之夜长嚎。不过除了精神病者,听到人狼声的人不多了。大概这是疯子们被叫 lunatics 的原因吧。


The gibbous moon a few nights before 月上梢头

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