Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 8, Part 6

Trey Smith

For in the world there can be constant naturalness. Where there is constant naturalness, things are arced not by the use of the curve, straight not by the use of the plumb line, rounded not by compasses, squared not by T squares, joined not by glue and lacquer, bound not by ropes and lines. Then all things in the world, simple and compliant, live and never know how they happen to live; all things, rude and unwitting, get what they need and never know how they happen to get it. Past and present it has been the same; nothing can do injury to this [principle]. Why then come with benevolence and righteousness, that tangle and train of glue and lacquer, ropes and lines, and try to wander in the realm of the Way and its Virtue? You will only confuse the world!

A little confusion can alter the sense of direction; a great confusion can alter the inborn nature. How do I know this is so? Ever since that man of the Yu clan began preaching benevolence and righteousness and stirring up the world, all the men in the world have dashed headlong for benevolence and righteousness. This is because benevolence and righteousness have altered their inborn nature, is it not?

~ Burton Watson translation ~
I have written many times before that benevolence takes calculation. We have to figure out what is "expected" and then calculate the smallest extra effort to be viewed as benevolent. In most cases, the focus is on ourselves, not others or the situation at hand.

In my opinion, genuine benevolence comes about when benevolence itself is not part of the equation. It is when we do what needs to be done without calculation that we truly give of ourselves.

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

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