Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 27

Trey Smith

The hundred-year-old tree is hacked up to make bowls for the sacrificial wine, blue and yellow, with patterns on them, and the chips are thrown into the ditch. Compare the sacrificial bowls with the chips in the ditch and you will find them far apart in beauty and ugliness; yet they are alike in having lost their inborn nature. Robber Chih, Tseng, and Shih are far apart in deeds and righteousness, and yet they are the same in having lost their inborn nature. There are five conditions under which the inborn nature is lost. One: when the five colors confuse the eye and cause the eyesight to be unclear. Two: when the five notes confuse the ear and cause the hearing to be unclear. Three: when the five odors stimulate the nose and produce weariness and congestion in the forehead. Four: when the five flavors dull the mouth, causing the sense of taste to be impaired and lifeless. Five: when likes and dislikes unsettle the mind and cause the inborn nature to become volatile and flighty. These five are all a danger to life. And yet the followers of Yang Tzu and Mo Tzu go striding around, thinking they have really gotten hold of something. This is not what I call getting hold of something.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
As with many of these passages, "inborn nature" is an ideal. Most of us have what might be termed as an internal moral compass, but it is hard to see the compass because of all the layers of hubris that we pile on top of them!

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

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