Monday, September 9, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 21, Part 2

Trey Smith

Wen-po Hsueh-tzu, journeying to Ch'i, stopped along the way in the state of Lu. A man of Lu requested an interview with him, but Wen-po Hsueh-tzu said, "No indeed! I have heard of the gentlemen of these middle states - enlightened on the subject of ritual principles but stupid in their understanding of men's hearts. I have no wish to see any such person."

He arrived at his destination in Ch'i, and on his way home had stopped again in Lu when the man once more requested an interview. Wen-po Hsueh-tzu said, "In the past he made an attempt to see me, and now he's trying again. He undoubtedly has some means by which he hopes to `save' me!"

He went out to receive the visitor and returned to his own rooms with a sigh. The following day, he received the visitor once more, and once more returned with a sigh. His groom said, "Every time you receive this visitor you come back sighing. Why is that?"

"I told you before, didn't I? These men of the middle states are enlightened in ritual principles but stupid in the understanding of men's hearts. Yesterday, when this man came to see me, his advancings and retirings were as precise as though marked by compass or T square. In looks and bearing he was now a dragon, now a tiger. He remonstrated with me as though he were my son, offered me guidance as though he were my father! That is why I sighed."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
What I take away from this snippet is a simple message: If there is any "saving" to be had -- I'm not sure there is -- we each must save ourselves!

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

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