He who is overnice in hearing will be confused by the five notes, bewitched by the six tones, by the sounds of metal and stone, strings and woodwinds, the huang-chung and ta-lu pitch pipes - am I wrong? So we have Music Master K'uang. He who is fork-fingered with benevolence will tear out the Virtue given him and stifle his inborn nature in order to seize fame and reputation, leading the world on with pipe and drum in the service of an unattainable ideal - am I wrong? So we have Tseng and Shih. He who is web-toed in argumentation will pile up bricks, knot the plumb line, apply the curve, letting his mind wander in the realm of "hard" and "white," "likeness" and "difference," huffing and puffing away, lauding his useless words - am I wrong? So we have Yang and Mo.' All these men walk a way that is overnice, web-toed, wide of the mark, fork-fingered, not that which is the True Rightness of the world.What does it mean to be too nice? For me, it means a forced expression -- something that's not genuine. A lot of people feign niceness simply because they don't want to face conflicts and challenges head on. But conflicts and challenges are a part of life. Trying to avoid them at all costs doesn't work. They will befall you, nonetheless.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.