Confucius said to Lao Tan, "I have been studying the Six Classics - the Odes, the Documents, the Ritual, the Music, the Changes, and the Spring and Autumn, for what I would call a long time, and I know their contents through and through. But I have been around to seventy-two different rulers with them, expounding the ways of the former kings and making clear the path trod by the dukes of Chou and Shao, and yet not a single ruler has found anything to excite his interest. How difficult it is to persuade others, how difficult to make clear the Way!"None of us can live in the distant past. What worked wonders ten years ago or even a few minutes ago might not work right now. The variables of life are ever changing and we must change to meet them on even ground.
Lao Tzu said, "It's lucky you didn't meet with a ruler who would try to govern the world as you say. The Six Classics are the old worn-out paths of the former kings - they are not the thing which walked the path. What you are expounding are simply these paths. Paths are made by shoes that walk them, they are by no means the shoes themselves!
"The white fish hawk has only to stare unblinking at its mate for fertilization to occur. With insects, the male cries on the wind above, the female cries on the wind below, and there is fertilization. The creature called the lei is both male and female and so it can fertilize itself. Inborn nature cannot be changed, fate cannot be altered, time cannot be stopped, the Way cannot be obstructed. Get hold of the Way and there's nothing that can't be done; lose it and there's nothing that can be done."
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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