Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 7, Part 4

Trey Smith

Yang Tzu-chu went to see Lao Tan and said, "Here is a man swift as an echo, strong as a beam, with a wonderfully clear understanding of the principles of things, studying the Way without ever letting up - a man like this could compare with an enlightened king, couldn't he?"

Lao Tan said, "In comparison to the sage, a man like this is a drudging slave, a craftsman bound to his calling, wearing out his body, grieving his mind. They say it is the beautiful markings of the tiger and the leopard that call out the hunters, the nimbleness of the monkey and the ability of the dog to catch rats' that make them end up chained. A man like this - how could he compare to an enlightened king?"

Yang Tzu-chu, much taken aback, said, "May I venture to ask about the government of the enlightened king?"

Lao Tan said, "The government of the enlightened king? His achievements blanket the world but appear not to be his own doing. His transforming influence touches the ten thousand things but the people do not depend on him. With him there is no promotion or praise - he lets everything find its own enjoyment. He takes his stand on what cannot be fathomed and wanders where there is nothing at all."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
I could address this snippet here, but instead I will merely whet your appetite for two impending posts from Scott which, in a roundabout way, deal with the idea expressed above. Look for The Sage of Crippled Virtue 1 and 2 on February 6 and 7, respectively.

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

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