Monday, February 11, 2013

Avoiding the Tiger

Scott Bradley


When Tzu-lu returned to Lu from the state of Wei, he came before Kongzi and said, "Master, there is a sage in Wei named Zhouzi who declares that all things as they are are acceptable, saying 'The myriad flowers bloom, and none can be improved upon.' Now Wei is ruled by a tyrant and the fields are filled with corpses, while all the world is in disarray having lost the way of the sage-kings. Thus I confronted him and told him of your way which shall reform the world, but he only laughed and said, 'Kongzi, too, cannot be improved upon!' I was much grieved that he made you equal to the tyrant of Wei. What do you say?"

Kongzi replied, "Among all the beasts the tiger is most to be feared, yet we honor him as the most majestic. Deer and monkeys respect him above all others, yet they avoid him at all costs. However, when one stalks about a village, taking wood-cutters so that they fear to enter the forest, and carrying off children as they play in the fields, then the village elders dig traps and arrange snares to catch him. And when they have him, they pierce him with many spears. Yet still they take his skin and skull that they might honor him in perpetuity though they have put him to death. Thus it is said that those who are victorious in battle should mourn the enemy dead as for their own sons and daughters."

"There was an elephant in Yueh that all called Rogue who trampled villages and fields as if for sport. And he was only put to miserable death over many years through the infliction of many wounds. Yet still his tusks hold a place of honor in a temple that unites the many barbarian clans. Can we not also honor the tyrant of Wei though we seek to see his end? Can we not honor those who would harm us, though when we see them coming we turn and take another path?"

"As for Zhouzi, his way also cannot be improved upon!"

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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