Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 24, Part 15

Trey Smith

When Confucius visited Ch'u, the king of Ch'u ordered a toast. Sun-shu Ao came forward and stood with the wine goblet, while I-liao from south of the Market took some of the wine and poured a libation, saying, "[You have the wisdom of] the men of old, have you not? On this occasion perhaps you would speak to us about it."

Confucius said, "I have heard of the speech that is not spoken, though I have never tried to speak about it. Shall I take this occasion to speak about it now? I-liao from south of the Market juggled a set of balls and the trouble between the two houses was resolved. Sun-shu Ao rested comfortably, waving his feather fan, and the men of Ying put away their arms. I wish I had a beak three feet long!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Talking often complicates matters. We try so hard to set concepts and definitions in stone and yet they float about on pillows of air. We come to an "agreement" and we both walk away with two completely different understandings of what we just agreed to!

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

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