莫言山林無休士，人若無心處處閒。 -- 唐．龍牙禪師
Postscript 2 of the second edition of A spectrum of energies - Reflections on Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident
My trip to Tokyo on 4 July
The complicated rights and wrongs are hidden
In mansions with painted walls and red gates;
High hermits are not only found in the high mountains and deep forests,
For people with a contented heart feel happy with their fate.
By Longya, Zen master of the Tang Dynasty
Inside mansions with painted walls and red gates live the highest nobles and richest merchants. But, even though they are wealthy, they are not necessarily leading a happy or comfortable life. They may be involved in unscrupulous activities and knavery, so those mansions are in a sense a trap and a vanity fair.
Whether or not hermits and monks reside in remote mountains and thick forest, we need to purge ourselves of concerns that stem from our desire for mundane success. If we manage to reach that ideal sphere, we will be free and we can do anything we like. As Zen Master Huikai says, "it is the most enjoyable and sweetest time when we are free from cares and worries."
Modern universities should abide by modern standards. They should value real scholarship instead of meaningless venture and reputations. Modern teachers should also abide by modern standards. They should pay heed to the needs and values of the students. They should integrate teaching and research, instead of debating the rights or wrongs about trivial things. They should not be engaged in worthless rhetoric or be jostling for personal gain behind painted walls and red gates.
For that very reason, I set a goal for our University on my first day of work as President. "Just as a real hermit remains at peace amid the din of a city, so a great scholar remains well-accomplished through research based on practical teaching, without being distracted by what seems to dazzle."
On 4 July 2013, after a packed visit to Japan, I found myself walking in a downpour outside Kyoto University. Professors and alumni at this distinguished university have won eight Noble Prizes, three Fields Prizes and three Kyoto Prizes. Yet the gateway to the university is very small and quite plain; its buildings simple and efficient; and its professors erudite and quiet, like peaceful hermits. These characteristics exemplify ideas which I hold so dear: "There must be many accomplished hermits in spite of its unprepossessing gates."
People who are engaged in teaching and research and enjoy academic freedom should seek the truth from facts, and have an expansive mind to embrace new and advanced ideas. In this sense, Kyoto University is an excellent example for us all. My CityU colleagues and friends in the higher education sector in Hong Kong have a long way to go to further improve ourselves in our endeavours to achieve professional excellence.
July 23, 2013