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Kōng Guān

​for ssaattbb (2023)

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Kōng Guān


for ssaattbb (2023)

Texts are derived from Qingjing Jing

三者既悟 唯見於空

sān zhě jì wù,wéi jiàn yú kōng

He who awakens to these three*,they see only emptiness.

觀空亦空, 空無所空

guān kōng yì kōng, kōng wú suǒ kōng

They observe that this emptiness is also empty,yet the emptiness has nothing which is empty.

所空既無, 無無亦無

suǒ kōng jì wú, wú wú yì wú

Since the emptiness is empty, that which is not empty is also empty.

無無既無, 湛然常寂

wú wú jì wú zhàn rán cháng jì

Since what is not empty is empty, there is clarity and constant tranquility.

寂無所寂, 慾豈能生

jì wú suǒ jì, yù qǐ néng shēng

Since this tranquility has nothing which is tranquil, what can give birth to desires?

欲既不生 即是真靜

yù jì bù sheng, jí shì zhēn jìng

Since desires are unborn, this is itself true stillness,

真常應物 真常得性

zhēn cháng yìng wù zhēn cháng dé xìng

true constant response to phenomena, true constant attainment and abiding.

常應常靜 常清靜矣

cháng yìng cháng jìng cháng qīng jìng yǐ

With constant response and constant stillness, this is indeed constant purity and stillness!

*”Three”: (mind, outer form, external phenomena)


The Qingjing Jing is a short, mostly versified text comprising some 390 Chinese characters in 90 verses. It is widely read, has numerous commentaries, and is considered one of the most important texts in the Taoist religion.


This composition draws inspiration from the revered Qingjing Jing, specifically from sixteen verses in the middle. The translated essence of these verses highlights the profound realization that the three realms (mind, outer form, external phenomena) are fundamentally empty, leading to a perception of ultimate emptiness. Within this emptiness, a tranquil clarity emerges, free from desires. This state of stillness embodies constant purity and unwavering attunement to phenomena. Through music, I aim to capture and evoke this sense of profound wisdom and enlightenment and stillness found within the Qingjing Jing.


Commissioned by National Youth Choir with kind support from Dorico

(National Youth Choir's Principal Innovation Sponsor).

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