Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bit by Bit - Chapter 25, Part 19

Trey Smith

Little Understanding said to Great Impartial Accord, "What is meant by the term `community words'?"

Great Impartial Accord said, " `Community words' refers to the combining of ten surnames and a hundred given names into a single social unit. Differences are combined into a sameness; samenesses are broken up into differences. Now we may point to each of the hundred parts of a horse's body and never come up with a `horse' - yet here is the horse, tethered right before our eyes. So we take the hundred parts and set up the term `horse.' Thus it is that hills and mountains pile up one little layer on another to reach loftiness; the Yangtze and the Yellow River combine stream after stream to achieve magnitude; and the Great Man combines and brings together things to attain generality. Therefore, when things enter his mind from the outside, there is a host to receive them but not to cling to them; and when things come forth from his mind, there is a mark to guide them but not to constrain them. The four seasons each differ in breath, but Heaven shows no partiality among them, and therefore the year comes to completion. The five government bureaus differ in function, but the ruler shows no partiality among them, and therefore the state is well ordered. In both civil and military affairs, the Great Man shows no partiality, and therefore his virtue is complete. The ten thousand things differ in principle, but the Way shows no partiality among them, and therefore they may achieve namelessness. Being nameless, they are without action; without action, yet there is nothing they do not do.

"The seasons have their end and beginning, the ages their changes and transformations. Bad fortune and good, tripping and tumbling, come now with what repels you, now with what you welcome. Set in your own opinion, at odds with others, now you judge things to be upright, now you judge them to be warped. But if you could only be like the great swamp, which finds accommodation for a hundred different timbers, or take your model from the great mountain, whose trees and rocks share a common groundwork! This is what is meant by the term `community words.'"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
You and I talk about this thing called me as if it were a singular entity, but each of us is an amalgamation of bones, sinew, blood, gray matter, nerve endings, etc. From the standpoint of each constituent part, where is this me found?

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

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