Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 17, Part 21

Trey Smith

"But before the great turtle of the Eastern Sea had even gotten his left foot in the well his right knee was already wedged fast. He backed out and withdrew a little, and then began to describe the sea. `A distance of a thousand li cannot indicate its greatness; a depth of a thousand fathoms cannot express how deep it is. In the time of Yu there were floods for nine years out of ten, and yet its waters never rose. In the time of T’ang there were droughts for seven years out of eight, and yet its shores never receded. Never to alter or shift, whether for an instant or an eternity; never to advance or recede, whether the quantity of water flowing in is great or small - this is the great delight of the Eastern Sea!'

"When the frog in the caved-in well heard this, he was dumfounded with surprise, crestfallen, and completely at a loss. Now your knowledge cannot even define the borders of right and wrong and still you try to use it to see through the words of Chuang Tzu - this is like trying to make a mosquito carry a mountain on its back or a pill bug race across the Yellow River. You will never be up to the task!

"He whose understanding cannot grasp these minute and subtle words, but is only fit to win some temporary gain - is he not like the frog in the caved-in well? Chuang Tzu, now - at this very moment he is treading the Yellow Springs or leaping up to the vast blue. To him there is no north or south - in utter freedom he dissolves himself in the four directions and drowns himself in the unfathomable. To him there is no east or west - he begins in the Dark Obscurity and returns to the Great Thoroughfare. Now you come niggling along and try to spy him out or fix some name to him, but this is like using a tube to scan the sky or an awl to measure the depth of the earth - the instrument is too small, is it not? You'd better be on your way! Or perhaps you've never heard about the young boy of Shou-ling who went to learn the Han-tan Walk. He hadn't mastered what the Han-tan people had to teach him when he forgot his old way of walking, so that he had to crawl all the way back home. Now if you don't get on your way, you're likely to forget what you knew before and be out of a job!"

Kung-sun Lung's mouth fell open and wouldn't stay closed. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth and wouldn't come down. In the end he broke into a run and fled.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
There are some who say that faith alone can move mountains.  If an individuals believes with all their heart, mind, body and soul, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g is possible.

While there is a degree of truth to such beliefs, me thinks it's a small degree.  Regardless of faith, mosquitoes can't carry a mountain on their backs and humans can't breath water.  Each life form has certain parameters it must live within.

Why?  Because that's the way nature works!

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

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