Friday, August 30, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 20, Part 13

Trey Smith

Confucius said to Master Sang-hu, "Twice I have been driven out of Lu. The people chopped down a tree on me in Sung, wiped away my footprints in Wei, made trouble for me in Shang and Chou, and besieged me between Ch'en and Ts'ai -- so many calamities have I encountered. My kinfolk and associates drift farther and farther away, my friends and followers one after the other take leave. Why is this?"

Master Sang-hu said, "Have you never heard about Lin Hui, the man who fled from Chia?" He threw away his jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold, strapped his little baby on his back, and hurried off. Someone said to him, `Did you think of it in terms of money? Surely a little baby isn't worth much money! Or were you thinking of the bother? But a little baby is a great deal of bother! Why then throw away a jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold and hurry off with a little baby on your back?'

"Lin Hui replied, `The jade disc and I were joined by profit, but the child and I were brought together by Heaven. Things joined by profit, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cast each other aside; but things brought together by Heaven, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cling to one another. To cling to each other and to cast each other aside are far apart indeed!'

"The friendship of a gentleman, they say, is insipid as water; that of a petty man, sweet as rich wine. But the insipidity of the gentleman leads to affection, while the sweetness of the petty man leads to revulsion. Those with no particular reason for joining together will for no particular reason part."

Confucius said, "I will do my best to honor your instructions!" Then, with leisurely steps and a free and easy manner, he returned home. He abandoned his studies, gave away his books, and his disciples no longer came to bow in obeisance before him, but their affection for him was greater than it had ever been before.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
In reading this snippet, what comes to my mind is "There is no honor amongst thieves."

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

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