草堂精神

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1996 / 10月

文‧蔡文婷



「大夢誰先覺?平生我自知。草堂春睡足,窗外日遲遲。」諸葛亮的隱居生活,為草堂塑造出超拔塵俗、安然自在的耕讀精神。而陶淵明「久在樊籠裡,復得返自然」的草屋生活,尤其不知羨煞了多少忙碌的現代人。

然而對於身懷田園夢的現代人,蓋間草屋真的就能一如諸葛亮或陶淵明般的自在安適了嗎?

三國時候的諸葛亮,自稱是個疏懶成性、懶於應世的南陽野人。他在臥龍坡久樂耕鋤,不管世間人的來往榮辱。

渾然忘我在草堂

唐朝詩人白居易,歸隱之後,在他心愛的廬山蓋了一間草堂。這草堂,不過三間兩柱,且柱子不塗紅漆、牆壁不上白泥。草堂內,也沒什麼高級家具,就是木搭的床架、竹編的簾帷,再有的,就是詩人的漆琴一張,儒、道、佛書三兩卷。

白樂天在廬山草堂中,看山聽泉,大自然的雲石竹樹令他「應接不暇」。他說在草堂中住上一晚身體好,再住一晚感到心情恬靜了下來,住上三天以後,薰薰然的,與自然相同而不知所以,舒服的內和外適、渾然忘我。

由李白、杜甫、王維、陶淵明等人的詩作來看,「草堂」已然是中國文人避世隱居、與自然相同的一種代表。草堂是可以「困來一枕葫蘆架」、「直吃的老瓦盆乾」的簡單樸素。「草堂精神不在形式,在於詩人們對抗政治的不清,回歸自然、返璞歸真的生命態度,」南亞工專建築科講師賴志彰指出。

可以看到古代文人們以生活來與草堂精神相呼應,在車水馬龍、冠蓋雲集的大城市,也有些享盡榮華的高官巨賈,以充滿野趣的草堂來點綴他們的私人園林。為了再造自然,不惜「載以大舟、挽以千伕、鑿河斷橋」地自遠地取來太湖奇石、珍禽異草。「這樣為了自己的小自然,而破壞大自然。以現代的眼光看來,其實是相當不環保的,」賴志彰覺得這樣以自然來遷就人的園林山水,和人去親近自然的文人庭園相較,後者得其血肉,前者不過是皮相罷了。

活生生的草堂

在台中縣外埔鄉的三崁有這樣一戶尚留有草屋的農家:一條田間小路自馬路叉開通往竹圍,小路的兩旁是他們一畦畦的菜園。

當草屋的竹篦牆有些破損,祖先為官、今天務農的主人就從竹圍上砍些竹子來修護,屋頂草料要是薄了,就到附近山邊去割些回來。所有材料唾手可得,不多花一分錢。屋頂上的草,由於經年累月的使用與隨時的修護,草料有新有舊,有著生活的痕跡,而不是觀賞式的草頂那樣整齊畫一。

幾回前往這座農家的賴志彰深為這間草屋而感動,他說「這般『心安理得』的生活,才是草堂的真正意義吧!」

p.108

遠山近水環抱茅屋三兩,這樣悠遠的意境,已然是中國文人避世隱居的生活寫照。(明•畫巖壑清暉冊,故宮博物院提供)

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EN

People Who Live in Grass Houses . . .

Tsai Wen-ting /tr. by Phil Newell


"Who will be the first to awake from the grand illusion? In this simple life I know myself. In my thatched cottage I sleep to my fill on spring days, and outside my window the sun meanders by." Zhuge Liang's life in reclusion created an image of thatched cottages that was far beyond the ordinary; they came to be identified with the spirit of the gentleman farmer peacefully passing time. And the thatched-cottage life of poet Tao Yuanming-of which he wrote, "After long in the official cage, I have restored myself to nature"- has inspired envy in countless modern people.

But for modern people who subscribe to the country-life dream, would living in a thatched cottage really be as tranquil as it was for Zhuge Liang and Tao Yuanming?

Zhuge Liang, a statesman of the Three Kingdoms period, described himself as "habitually lazy," too lazy to be bothered with the affairs of the world. For a long time he lived happily puttering around his farm in Wolongpo, without regard for the comings and goings, honors and disgraces, of men of the world.

Forget yourself

The Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi, after retirement, built a thatched cottage in his beloved Lushan. It had but a few rooms and only two pillars, which weren't even lacquered, nor were the walls plastered. Inside there were no high-grade furnishings, just a wooden frame for a bed, a bamboo screen, and a few things the poet needed: a lacquered qin [a stringed instrument], and a few scroll-books of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist texts.

In his thatched cottage in Lushan, Bai gazed at the peaks and listened to the streams, while the clouds, rocks, and plants in nature provided "inexhaustible" charm. He said that after one night in a thatched cottage, one's body would feel better; after two nights, one's emotions would be pacified; and after three one would be nearly intoxicated, communing with nature, at ease inside and out, and completely forgetting oneself.

From the poetry of Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, and Tao Yuanming, the thatched cottage has already become representative of those Chinese literati who chose to withdraw from the world and live in communion with nature. Their thatched cottages were simple affairs, where one could "sleep on a gourd rack" or "eat one's fill from crockery old and worn." As Lai Chih-chang, a lecturer in architecture at the Oriental Institute of Technology, notes: "The spirit of the thatched cottage is not in its form, but in the philosophy of life of those poets who opposed the squalor of politics and returned to nature and to a simple life."

Just the surface?

But it was not only deep in the mountains that one could see the spirit of thatched-cottage living among ancient literati. Even in the busy urban centers, some high officials, tired of extravagance and luxury, embellished their personal gardens with rustic thatched structures. In order to recreate the natural setting, they stopped at nothing, even "employing a giant ship, mobilizing 1000 workers, and digging up the river bed" to get strange rocks and curious plants from remote places.

Of course, as Lai says, "this pattern of destroying nature to make one's own pseudo-natural setting is, from the modern point of view, quite environmentally harmful." Lai, contrasting the act of moving nature into one's garden against that of moving oneself out into nature, concludes that the latter is the more substantial and satisfying, while the former is merely superficial.

Living thatched cottage

In Sankan Rural Township in Taichung County, there is a farm family that still preserves its thatched cottage. A small country road branches off from the main road, leading through a bamboo grove and acre after acre of vegetables planted on either side.

If the cottage's bamboo walls have any damage, the owner-now a farmer but descended from a family of officials-just cuts some bamboo from the grove to make repairs. When the thatch on the roof thins out, he just goes into the nearby mountains to cut some more. All the materials are there to be picked up, and don't cost a penny. Over time, the roof thatch has been repeatedly repaired, and there is both old and new thatching; these are the marks of a living-that is, lived-in-thatched cottage, far different from the meticulously maintained ones which are mainly for show.

Lai, who has visited the Taichung thatched cottage several times, is very moved by it. He says, "This kind of peaceful, inoffensive lifestyle is what the thatched cottage is really all about!"

p.108

Thatched cottages, mountain scenery . . . such was the characteristic refuge of ancient Chinese scholars who retreated from the world. (courtesy of the National Palace Museum)

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