We are all in the world of the living. A USA friend who dedicates his whole life in study and digitalizing the evolution history of the pictographic Chinese language was quoting this character 世 for his good friend’s leaving the world of living last week. He said:
“The 世-life is the top part of 枼 which means leaves in a tree.”
(世 shì- life, generation, century, world; 枼yè, the un-simplified version of 叶yè, leaves in a tree)
“世- life is actually a pictograph of leaves which appear in spring and fall in the autumn or winter. The leaves that appear in spring represent life. But unfortunately, we all have to leave someday, like leaves from a tree, we will someday all return to the earth.”
In our ancestor’s perspective, 世-life also means 30 years, a generation, or 100 years, a century, or the whole world that we are living in.
For each piece of leaves, it absorbs water and nutrition through the branch from the roots; it absorbs carbon dioxide and sunlight; it serves the world with oxygen and bright lighting color for a green planet, in a process of quietness. Never demands anything, never breaks the law of nature, and never stops growing, year after year, life afterlife.
Like the mountains, never claim to be the highest, but reach into the sky.
Like the oceans, never claim to be the strongest, but gather into the infinite and eternality.
Like the ground, never claims to be the broadest, but gives lives, grows lives, supports lives, with her most inclusive and unconditional love.
We say 十年树木,百年树人(shí nián shù mù, bái nián shù rén). While planting trees, growing up new generations, we are developing ourselves the first. We spend our whole life, a generation of time, or a century of world, to collect success and climb high? To claim we can conquer mountains, with our trophy of title, power, money, …, at the top? Or to flow and emerge into the world happily, to clean and nurture and unite everything together?
From the lifetime of leaves to a century lifetime of the world, all lives came naked, leave naked. It is hard to trace a piece of leave’s life afterward, but, the accumulative works of leaves are marked in the tree rings.
But, when only a few pieces of leaves could live on a tree, it is going to be the end of the living of that naked tree.
Millions of thanks to my USA friend, who lives his whole life in spreading and uplifting the historical wisdom of Chinese characters, selflessly, quietly, and stubbornly.