Sunday, May 19, 2013

Selections from Xunzi II

Scott Bradley


All quotes are from Xunzi: Basic Writings; Burton Watson (Columbia Univ. Press, 2003).


IMPROVING YOURSELF (Section 2)

"When you find good in yourself, steadfastly approve it; when you find evil in yourself, hate it as something loathsome." (Excuse me while I abuse myself.)

"He who comes to you with censure is your teacher; he who comes with approbation is your friend; but he who flatters you is your enemy." (Even if the censure were wide of the mark, it would be an occasion to learn, but then so would flattery. A "gentleman" responds well to these, but does he do them?)

"To be without a fixed standard in your actions is called inconsistency." (This, of course, is the antithesis of Zhuangzi's approach which is to flexibly respond to the ever-changing, trusting in the ever-changing life within.)

Quoting an 'old text': "'The gentleman uses things; the petty man is used by things.'"

"[W]ill you try to exhaust the inexhaustible, to pursue to the end that which has no end? If you do, then you may wear out your bones and flesh but you will never reach your goal. If, however, you set a limit to your journey, then you will arrive there sooner or later . . ." (The question is what it is that one pursues. Zhuangzi says the same concerning the pursuit of knowledge. He might also reply that the "inexhaustible" has neither beginning nor end and that to open oneself to it is to end pursuit. Xunzi sees Zhuangzi's mysticism as an endless pursuit because he does not understand how it is the end of pursuit. But isn't much spiritual aspiration just as he describes it?)

"If he keeps putting one foot in front of the other without stopping, even a lame turtle can go a thousand li."

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

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