Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 10

Trey Smith

Yao was seeing the sights at Hua when the border guard of Hua said, "Aha - a sage! I beg to offer up prayers for the sage. They will bring the sage long life!"

Yao said, "No, thanks."

"They - will bring the sage riches!"

Yao said, "No, thanks."

"They will bring the sage many sons!"

Yao said, "No, thanks."

"Long life, riches, many sons - these are what all men desire!" said the border guard. "How is it that you alone do not desire them?"

Yao said, "Many sons mean many fears. Riches mean many troubles. Long life means many shames. These three are of no use in nourishing Virtue - therefore I decline them."

The border guard said, "At first I took you for a sage. Now I see you are a mere gentleman. When Heaven gives birth to the ten thousand people, it is certain to have jobs to assign them. If you have many sons and their jobs are assigned them, what is there to fear? If you share your riches with other men, what troubles will you have? The true sage is a quail at rest, a little fledgling at its meal, a bird in flight who leaves no trail behind. When the world has the Way, he joins in the chorus with all other things. When the world is without the Way, he nurses his Virtue and retires in leisure. And after a thousand years, should he weary of the world, he will leave it and ascend to the immortals, riding on those white clouds all the way up to the village of God. The three worries you have cited never touch him, his body is forever free of peril. How can he suffer any shame?"

The border guard turned and left. Yao followed him, saying, "Please - I would like to ask you . . ."

"Go away!" said the border guard.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
It is not uncommon for those who hold themselves out to be enlightened not to be half as enlightened as they think!

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

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