Life

A Glimpse of Eternity: Lessons from Changbai Mountain about the Unity of Life and Death

  On the way to Changbai Mountain, I smelled the scent of the forest through the car window. This breath is so moving, as if countless lives are standing freely on the earth, making passionate calls to the sky. The wind blows through the tranquil birch forest, carrying the life-long secrets of one tree to another. This graceful white spirit follows the footsteps of the clouds, as if they are about to leap up from the rooted earth and embrace the deep sky.
  Along the Yalu River, Tumen River and Songhua River, there are more than 50 kinds of trees such as spruce, Mongolian oak, manchurian ash, purple linden, red pine, beauty pine, sand fir, big blue poplar, and birch. Sometimes, they keep a beautiful distance and have no connection throughout their lives. They only hear each other’s singing in the wind, or look up and see each other’s beautiful silhouettes under the bright moonlight. Sometimes, their strong roots travel through the soil, quietly entangling each other, or high in the clouds, the branches and leaves touch each other, clinging to each other affectionately like lovers. Nothing can separate them, not wind, frost, rain, snow, disease, aging, or even death.
  Humans have never truly understood this forest, just as humans can never remember the names of each tree and the hardships they have experienced in their long lives. They are the stars on the earth, gathering into a lush forest with their faint light.
  If you have never reached the depths of the forest and understood how the plants and trees there spend their lives and how they continue to live in other forms after death, you will never truly understand life and death. You would think that life and death are two unrelated points. They stand at the opposite ends of life and look at each other far away, never touching each other. Your life is just an arduous journey from the starting point of life to the end point of death. When you disappear from this world, there will be no trace, as if there were never any traces of you on the vast land.
  Before going to Changbai Mountain, I picked up a bag of pine cones in a cultivated jungle, intending to take them away and put them in my study. The ranger stopped me sternly and told me not to take anything here except my memory, not even a fallen leaf or a clump of catkins. I couldn’t understand and tried to argue with him. These pinecones had fallen all over the jungle and were dead. They would never return to the branches. So why not take some as a souvenir? The ranger didn’t explain it to me. He just pointed out the rules and regulations hanging on the wall. Those serious prohibitions didn’t give me the answer I wanted.
  It wasn’t until I walked into Changbai Mountain, in an underground forest that sank to the bottom of the valley due to volcanic activity, that I realized for the first time that there is no boundary between life and death. It is in a place where humans cannot set foot. There is no difference between life and death. Life is It is death, death is also life, life and death are perfectly blended, like a chaotic universe.
  I walked in the quiet valley forest and became the child again who listened curiously to the sounds of the earth in my childhood. I tried hard to identify purple mushrooms, monkey leg vegetables, mountain peaks, thorn buds, acanthopanax, pig’s mouth mushrooms, hazel mushrooms, elm mushrooms, and hericium. They grow quietly around the pine trees without any competition. The sun shines through the dense branches and leaves into the depths of the dense forest, illuminating these humble yet equally vigorous plants. I also tried to find marigolds, bluebells, mountain vitex, irises, agrimony, coltsfoot, peonies, anemones, and dragonheads. I knew nothing about them except their names, and they never cared about my arrival. They have always been here, hidden in the Changbai Mountains, accepting the wind, frost, rain and snow of the four seasons, growing quietly and calmly. They are the true masters of this ancient land, where they thrive and spread their charming flowers all over the towering mountains. I held my breath and concentrated again to listen to the hidden sounds of birds and animals. Just deep in the jungle, there are Siberian tigers, Ussuri brown bears, wild boars, reindeer, lynx, wild wolves, black panthers, otters, and gorals. If I encounter them suddenly, I will quickly flee out of fear. This territory belongs to them. When I pass by, I will be rejected by this mysterious forest.
  At the place where a beautiful pine that once reached the sky fell, countless moss, bracken, mushrooms, weeds, flowers, and trees were born on top of this cruel death, and let the beauty of life flourish with wild and wild power. spread. Survival and death, poetry and roughness, gentleness and wildness, softness and hardness, kindness and ferocity, bleakness and magnificence are harmoniously intertwined. On the trees knocked down by thunder and lightning, all living things continue to grow in the vast and boundless way with their slender and fragile beauty. Every fallen leaf, every dead wood, every pine cone, every flower petal, every uprooted towering ancient tree awakens and nourishes fresh life with death.
  For thousands of years, this forest has been silent in the valley, blocking human invasion with its barbaric power. In the ebb and flow of all things, it has eliminated the boundary between life and death, and has become a place that shocks mankind. Unique existence.

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