Friday, March 1, 2013

Embracing Futility

Scott Bradley


Three times the local lord summoned Zhouzi that he might hear his teaching, but each time his lord sought only to prove him wrong. Thus, when a messenger was sent to summon him once again, Zhouzi replied, "My lord has well proven that my teaching is inadequate to his needs. Would not his time be better spent looking for another wiser than I, or better yet, within himself? I confess my failure and would not further vex my lord."

When the messenger had departed, Tzuyang conjectured, "Master, will not our feudal lord be wroth at your refusal?"

"Most likely so," replied Zhouzi, "but let us hope he only punishes us with the agreement of silence."

"But Master, it is in disagreement that he flourishes; how will he not relish expressing more of the same?" argued Tzuyang.

"Again, your insight is keen," answered Zhouzi. "What then would you have me do?"

"Master, it is not for me to say!" exclaimed Tzuyang. "Only I know that for me the weight of his oppression would be more than I could bear; but would it not be otherwise for you?"

"If not, then it clearly should be!" exclaimed Zhouzi with a laugh. "Should the messenger return, I will once again comply."

Thus when the messenger returned on the following day and expressed his lord's wrath at being refused and his insistence that Zhouzi appear, Zhouzi dutifully complied. "As for you, Tzuyang," he said as he departed, "further your progress, for next time you go in my stead!"

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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