Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 18, Part 10

Trey Smith

When Yen Yuan went east to Ch'i, Confucius had a very worried look on his face. Tzu-kung got off his mat and asked, "May I be so bold as to inquire why the Master has such a worried expression now that Hui has gone east to Ch'i?"

"Excellent -- this question of yours," said Confucius. "Kuan Tzu had a saying that I much approve of: `Small bags won't hold big things; short well ropes won't dip up deep water.' In the same way I believe that fate has certain forms and the body certain appropriate uses. You can't add to or take away from these. I'm afraid that when Hui gets to Ch'i he will start telling the marquis of Ch'i about the ways of Yao, Shun, and the Yellow Emperor, and then will go on to speak about Sui Jen and Shen Nung. The marquis will then look for similar greatness within himself and fail to find it. Failing to find it, he will become distraught, and when a man becomes distraught, he kills.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Each of us is the marquis. Because we know that we fail to live up to the ideal, we lash out at others and ourselves. We may not end lives, but we kill the spirit of love, community and comradeship.

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

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