Friday, December 28, 2012

Bit by Bit - Chapter 5, Part 10

Trey Smith

"What do you mean when you say his virtue takes no form?"

"Among level things, water at rest is the most perfect, and therefore it can serve as a standard. It guards what is inside and shows no movement outside. Virtue is the establishment of perfect harmony. Though virtue takes no form, things cannot break away from it."

Some days later, Duke Ai reported his conversation to Min Tzu." "At first, when I faced south and became ruler of the realm, I tried to look after the regulation of the people and worried that they might die. I really thought I understood things perfectly. But now that I've heard the words of a Perfect Man, I'm afraid there was nothing to my understanding - I was thinking too little of my own welfare and ruining the state. Confucius and I are not subject and ruler - we are friends in virtue, that's all."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
It's interesting to me that the ancient Taoist sages look at still water and equate it to virtue, while western philosophy more readily compares still water to stagnation. I wonder what accounts for this difference in perspective?

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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