Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 17

Trey Smith

Shih Ch'eng-ch'i went to see Lao Tzu. "I had heard that you were a sage," he said, "and so, without minding how long the road was, I came to beg an interview - a hundred nights along the way, feet covered with calluses, and yet I did not dare to stop and rest. Now that I see you, though, I find you are no sage at all. Rat holes heaped with leftover grain and yet you turn your little sister out of the house, an unkind act indeed! More raw and cooked food in front of you than you can ever get through, and yet you go on endlessly hoarding goods!" Lao Tzu looked blank and made no reply.

The following day, Shih Ch'eng-ch'i came to see him again and said, "Yesterday I was very sharp with you, but now I have no heart for that sort of thing. I wonder why that is?"

Lao Tzu said, "Artful wisdom, the spirit-like sage - I hope I have shuffled off categories of that sort! If you'd called me an ox, I'd have said I was an ox; if you'd called me a horse, I'd have said I was a horse. If the reality is there and you refuse to accept the name men give it, you'll only lay yourself open to double harassment. My submission is a constant submission; I do not submit because I think it time to submit."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of this story. I understand the point about submission, but not the one about hoarding goods!

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

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