Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Those Wily Taoists

Those Wily Taoists
by Scott Bradley


"The Master said, 'The wise man delights in water, the Good man delights in mountains. For the wise move; but the Good stay still. The wise are happy; but the Good, secure.'" (VI 21)

Sound familiar? I hope so, because I shared it in another post not long ago. Now I come to learn from Mr. Waley that this is most certainly a corrupted text, an interpolation, introduced by those wily Taoists! No wonder I liked it so much! You just can't trust anything anymore.

Of course I should have seen it a mile away, even if the scholar Mr. Chan, from whom I quoted it, did not. I had taken the wise man as the example to follow, but this is Confucius! Of course it's the Good guy who's got it right. Better to be sure and secure in your unmoving solidity than adrift and carefree like those sneaky Taoists.

But on second thought, both options sound like pretty nice ways to live -- the sedentary family-man and the aimless drifter. Take your pick! I've chosen the latter -- or did it choose me? But of course, it's not like that at all; we can all drift or remained fixed whether drifting or sedentary. Again, take your pick.

Waley, by the way, refers to the Taoists as the Quietists, to which I reply: Shhh!

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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