Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 39, Part I

from Verse Thirty-Nine
Emperors and lords consider the whole empire or the entire nation to be their house, and all things their belongings. If they take to heart the greatness of the land and are possessive of the multitude of people and things in it, then they become full of energy and unrestrained in their ambitions. The larger ones launch armed invasions of the smaller ones, the smaller ones haughtily look down upon their subjects.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
Don't let the words "emperors" and "lords" throw you off; I believe the above passage is more about possessiveness than anything else. When we claim possession of something -- ideas, thoughts, concepts, emotions, objects and people -- we each tend to behave like an emperor or a lord.

For me, seeking to claim possession of something is a form of power. We want to be able to monopolize and control it. We want to be able to direct how it is used and who can use it. At the root of the problem is fear.

I know this principle well in my own life. As I've detailed here, I like established patterns and routines. In essence, I like to have control over situations because I fear the unexpected and the primary reason I fear the unexpected is that I tend to react very slowly. Often times, a slow reaction means mucking everything up or missing out on wonderful opportunities.

So, to keep from messing things up, I like for most aspects of my life to stay within comfortable parameters -- ones that I already know how to react to. This is a trait very common to aspies.

Of course, almost everyone likes to control certain parts of their lives. In many ways, it almost seems natural. I say almost because we all know that the more we try to control things, the more they slip through our fingers!

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

3 comments:

  1. I really feel this line

    "If they take to heart the greatness of the land and are possessive of the multitude of people and things in it, then they become full of energy and unrestrained in their ambitions."

    was messed up in translation and it is the key to the passage.

    Often this would be put that, 'The wise sees the world undivided and whole so has the whole universe as his house, sun, moon and earth as his jewels' or similar - Meaning at least that the Emperor or land owner or wherever has it all wrong thinking their big Kingdom is great or themselves special for owning. it.

    The simple person has it all without taking from others or moving at all.

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  2. If you're correct, then yes that would change the meaning alright.

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  3. May I recommend a really cool (if a bit slow) recent Chinese movie called "Battle of Wits."

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