Friday, May 28, 2010

The Wanderings - At a River Crossing, Part 3

If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story, you should go back to read them first.

On the morrow, the crowd was further swollen by refugees from fighting in Li State. And hearing that three sages were amongst the crowd there gathered, they sought them out to enlist their aid.

“Sirs,” they entreated, “please, you must go to Li and help the people, for there is great death and suffering throughout the land! For the tyrant Jin Hsiang has been oppressing the people and despoiling the land! And his good brother, the noble Prince Jen, has revolted against him and there is much war in the land!”

“But are these not the normal affairs of men?” replied Chen Jen. “What would you have us do, that would change so great a torrent away from the Tao? Easier, indeed, to reverse the flow of this swollen river!”

“You could go and speak with the tyrant Jin Hsiang and convince him of his error! Surely he would listen to great sages such as you!”

“But he would not listen, friends. He would simply slay us as he has slain so many that have preceded us. But know, also, that the Tao is not shared in words but in a life lived; how then could our brief moment before him change his character, hard as granite?”

“Then, Sirs, you could go to the noble Prince Jen and give him your wise advice in the conduct of his war, for he is a good man and fights a noble cause.”

“You would have us despise one brother and embrace the other in their fratricidal war? You would have us swallow this war whole and make it our own! Then the war that we fought would be a battle within. Have I not spent these long hard years rising above the wars in my self? And you would have me bring in another? For I tell you with conviction that all wars begin and rise within the human heart, and the greatest of all wars is that which rages within. And is it not also the case that the tyrant Jen Hsiang not long ago overthrew his own father, a tyrant of great repute, and that he did so in the name of reform and with the title Noble Prince? Well is it said: ‘Violence begets violence and he who wields the sword will die thereon.’ You ask that we pass judgment and side with the one, but in the end they are equal and only what already is will come.”

“Are you not, then, just one more of these so-called sages that hide their selfishness in the cloak of fate? You care for yourself alone, Sir!”

“Were such the case, I would be a man most despicable, I will agree. But know, Sirs, that I care for nothing at all, least of all my own self! Does Nature, that gives life and being to all that is, care when the fledgling falls from its nest? Does Heaven weep when a child is born still? And when man has laid all the world to waste, will not the Tao but birth another or if not, does it matter? For all things will be as they will be and whatever Is is the Tao! And with the Tao alone I seek Harmony!”

“Your words are convincing and truly seem fair,” answered one of the refugees, “but what of compassion for the world which the greatest of teachers all teach?”

“What is compassion but the sharing of passion? And what is passion but the root of all suffering and the infliction of pain? But it’s a pity indeed that these ‘greatest of teachers’ are not with us here now that they might do as you say and come to your aid. But I and my companions are nowhere so great and must needs be refuse!

But as for the ‘cloak of fate,’ Sir, it is, as you say, a guiding light. For the Tao is All and to the Tao All must return. What difference then, do my opinions or doings make? Have you never had a dream, Sir, in which you have become enough aware to change some unpleasant detail and could thus finish it in peace? But when you awoke did you find that it had changed your life one wit? It is true that circumstances can be changed, but in the end they are of no consequence at all. And I tell you, Sir, that nothing matters more than your own true peace. Yet, that, too, matters not at all.”

With that the discussion came to a close. And the sages, sensing the anger and disquiet in the crowd, decided to follow a narrow path upriver to see what they might see.

This post is part of a series. To view the index, go here.


  1. And so life now, as modern as it seems, caries the same lessons for every man, learn from that which you think you see and reform the self.

  2. Well this is just what I think.

    I believe the track record of the West is Becoming more and more Embarrassing to Westerners.

    And the Light of East is revealing it's Self the more and more the Western Statuesque Seeks to cover it up.


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