In the temple the cherry blossoms fall
Bringing songs of spring from afar
But I refuse to believe in destiny
Even if it is all written in the stars

For years I knelt before the Almighty
But He offered no answers, nor pity
And now, driven to despair
I turn to the darkness 
For but a sliver of peace

I burned in the flames of hell
As He mocked me for a life in vain
And for that I shall forsake the light
To embrace the night again

I will gladly waste away eternities 
Fearless, mortal and free
Even if I were to choose darkness
What can You do about it?

You know not the woes of us mortals
Nor what it means to bend to heaven’s will
You say a man reaps what he sows
But You see not the beauty of this realm

You care not for the truth
Only that I am punished for my hubris
But still I laugh, in defiance
As I endure a lifetime of pain in silence

In the temple the cherry blossoms fall
Bringing songs of spring from afar
Still I refuse to believe in destiny
Even if it is all written in the stars

For years I knelt before the Almighty
But He brought me no answers, nor pity
And now, driven to despair
I turn to the darkness 
For but a sliver of peace

MONOLOGUE:
I ask, what is good, and what is evil?
It seems to me violence is violence, no matter the intent
If that be so, I choose darkness
I choose freedom

You know not the woes of us mortals
Nor what it means to bend to heaven’s will
You say a man reaps what he sows
But You see not the beauty of this realm

You care not for the truth
Only that I am punished for my hubris
But still I laugh, in defiance
As I endure a lifetime of pain in silence

In the temple the cherry blossoms fall
Bringing songs of spring from afar
Still I refuse to believe in destiny
Even if it is all written in the stars

For years I knelt before the Almighty
But He brought me no answers, nor pity
And now, driven to despair
I turn to the darkness 
For but a sliver of peace

Original

你看那寺院樱花又落满地
可我偏偏不信命
哪怕今生一切都是那天注定

佛前一跪多年佛不怜心
却让我走入绝境
那我成魔只为换一份安宁

地狱烈火在焚灼
佛笑我一世苟活
那我宁愿弃佛再入魔

任这世间蹉跎
红尘中有多洒脱
就算入魔
佛又能奈我何

佛你未曾顺天道
不了世间的纷扰
你说善恶有报
却不见这人间的美好

佛你未曾见分晓
来灭我一身狂傲
哪怕一生煎熬
也对天狂笑

你看那寺院樱花又落满地
可我偏偏不信命
哪怕今生一切都是那天注定

佛前一跪多年佛不怜心
却让我走入绝境
那我成魔只为换一份安宁

独白:
问世间何为正道 何为魔道
在我看来一切皆是杀戮
佛啊既然如此 那我便弃佛入魔
换一生逍遥快活

佛你未曾顺天道
不了世间的纷扰
你说善恶有报
却不见这人间的美好

佛你未曾见分晓
来灭我一身狂傲
哪怕一生煎熬
也对天狂笑

你看那寺院樱花又落满地
可我偏偏不信命
哪怕今生一切都是那天注定

佛前一跪多年佛不怜心
却让我走入绝境
那我成魔只为换一份安宁

Translator’s Notes

First of all, the song is about a person who has forsaken the the path of 佛 (Fo) in favour of that of 魔 (Mo). The title, for example, literally means ‘to abandon Fo and enter Mo’. I tried to avoid using either of these terms in my translation, mostly because there aren’t any equivalents in English and explaining them would take at least a paragraph or two.

‘Fo’ means ‘Buddha’, but in our pop culture and many literary works it is often used to refer to something akin to God, the ultimate good and often the arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. ‘Mo’ is the opposite of that – it refers to demons, both the external ones that plague our world and the inner ones that dwell within each and every one of us.

It should be noted, however, that a lot of fantasy literary works in Chinese, such as the famous Journey to the West, tend to blend both Buddhist and Taoist influences. These works often feature Buddha alongside Taoist deities (known as Xian), and depict mortals as capable of attaining immortality and ascending to godhood through a kind of lifetime dedication to spiritual enlightenment. It’s a little bit like Buddhists’ pursuit of Nirvana, except Nirvana is about transcending everything – suffering, desire, even one’s sense of self – while the Taoist endgame is more about achieving the best version of ourselves and overcoming our inherent mortality as humans.

‘Mo’ is a bit more complicated. There are many different types of ‘Mo’ in Taoism, but the ones we see the most in literature and pop culture are usually manifestations of a sort of perversion of said spiritual pursuit. It is said to be caused by ‘evil’ – when you have evil in your heart, it corrupts the process and turns you into something between a mortal and a deity. A Mo usually lives a long life (Journey to the West is full of Mo characters who are thousands of years old) and is powerful, with non-humanlike abilities such as flight, invisibility and so on, but they remain barred from true immortality and vulnerable to all the things that cause suffering in humans such as greed, fear, hatred and love.

Animals can turn into ‘Mo’, too, so can plants or inanimate objects like rocks, which are all believed to have souls and therefore capable of attaining spiritual enlightenment. However, like humans, they are flawed and can be easily led astray, so more often than not, they end up being very powerful ‘Mo’s on a perpetual quest for immortality. At least that’s how it’s usually portrayed in these stories.

This brings us to the question – is ‘Mo’ inherently evil?

The writer of this song is not the first to explore this theme, nor will they be the last. The struggle between Fo and Mo is a common theme in our fantasy genre. As a race, Mo is incredibly fascinating because they’re so much like humans – they love, they hate, they fear, they despair. They’re not immune to greed or envy. In comparison, Fo seems distant and even apathetic sometimes.

This song is about someone who’s chosen to be a Mo. He accuses Fo of being cold and indifferent to mortal plights, a merciless god who cares only about enforcing the natural order, even if it’s at the expense of certain individuals. In the monologue, he asks, “What is good and what is evil? It seems like killing is killing to me, no matter the intent”, which refers to the reality that when Mo’s kill, it is always perceived as an act of evil deserving of punishment, but when Fo does it (to Mo’s) it is seen as a righteous act of justice.

Certain parts of the song also talk about going against 天道 (heavenly law), which is usually used to refer to the ‘natural order’, the way things are, and how our world is set up. The song starts with the protagonist refusing to accept his ‘destiny’, and ends with him stubbornly refusing to admit his ‘mistake’. It reminds me a little of the story of Wukong, the Monkey King from the Journey to the West, as well as the stories of many other characters who defied ‘heavenly rule’ and just refusing to accept their lot.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I should translate Fo and Mo. I didn’t want to just substitute them with God and Devil/demon, because it’s obviously not the same thing. Good vs Evil also seemed like a gross oversimplification, especially since the whole point of the song is to argue that not all ‘Mo’s are inherently evil. In the end, I chose to go with the good ol’ symbolism of Light and Dark, which seemed much more flexible in terms of moral connotations. After all, who says that the darkness is all bad?

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