Friday, August 9, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 14

Trey Smith

A gentleman of Ch'i named Huang-tzu Kao-ao said, "Your Grace, you are doing this injury to yourself! How could a ghost have the power to injure you! If the vital breath that is stored up in a man becomes dispersed and does not return, then he suffers a deficiency. If it ascends and fails to descend again, it causes him to be chronically irritable. If it descends and does not ascend again, it causes him to be chronically forgetful. And if it neither ascends nor descends, but gathers in the middle of the body in the region of the heart, then he becomes ill."

Duke Huan said, "But do ghosts really exist?"

"Indeed they do. There is the Li on the hearth and the Chi in the stove. The heap of clutter and trash just inside the gate is where the Lei-t'ing lives. In the northeast corner the Pei-a and Kuei-lung leap about, and the northwest corner is where the I-yang lives. In the water is the Kang-hsiang; on the hills, the Hsin; in the mountains, the K'uei; in the meadows, the P’ang-huang; and in the marshes, the Wei-t'o."

The duke said, "May I ask what a Wei-t'o looks like?"

Huang-tzu said, "The Wei-t'o is as big as a wheel hub, as tall as a carriage shaft, has a purple robe and a vermilion hat and, as creatures go, is very ugly. When it hears the sound of thunder or a carriage, it grabs its head and stands up. Any one who sees it will soon become a dictator."

Duke Huan's face lit up and he said with a laugh, "That must have been what I saw!" Then he straightened his robe and hat and sat up on the mat with Huang-tzu, and before the day was over, though he didn't notice it, his illness went away.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Though the ghosts we conjure up in our minds are not real, the stress, anxiety and illnesses are. How our egoic mind views ourselves and the world around us greatly impacts our physical and emotional well-being. This is why the individual who can stay loving and positive often feels better than the individual who addresses life with a sour disposition.

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

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