Friday, October 18, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 22, Part 24

Trey Smith

Yen Yuan said to Confucius, "Master, I have heard you say that there should be no going after anything, no welcoming anything. May I venture to ask how one may wander in such realms?"

Confucius said, "The men of old changed on the outside but not on the inside. The men of today change on the inside but not on the outside. He who changes along with things is identical with him who does not change. Where is there change? Where is there no change? Where is there any friction with others? Never will he treat others with arrogance. But Hsi-wei had his park, the Yellow Emperor his garden, Shun his palace, T'ang and Wu their halls. And among gentlemen there were those like the Confucians and Mo-ists who became `teachers.' As a result, people began using their `rights' and `wrongs' to push each other around. And how much worse are the men of today!

"The sage lives with things but does no harm to them, and he who does no harm to things cannot in turn be harmed by them. Only he who does no harm is qualified to join with other men in `going after' or `welcoming.'

"The mountains and forests, the hills and fields fill us with overflowing delight and we are joyful. Our joy has not ended when grief comes trailing it. We have no way to bar the arrival of grief and joy, no way to prevent them from departing. Alas, the men of this world are no more than travelers, stopping now at this inn, now at that, all of them run by `things.' They know the things they happen to encounter, but not those that they have never encountered. They know how to do the things they can do, but they can't do the things they don't know how to do. Not to know, not to be able to do - from these mankind can never escape. And yet there are those who struggle to escape from the inescapable - can you help but pity them? Perfect speech is the abandonment of speech; perfect action is the abandonment of action. To be limited to understanding only what is understood - this is shallow indeed!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
This final snippet of Chapter 22 suggests a theme of wholeness to me. To be a true person of Tao, one can't do it half ass! If we only abide by The Way when it is convenient or benefits us, then we don't understand The Way at all.

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

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