When a filial son does not fawn on his parents, when a loyal minister does not flatter his lord, they are the finest of sons and ministers. He who agrees with everything his parents say and approves of everything they do is regarded by popular opinion as an unworthy son; he who agrees with everything his lord says and approves of everything his lord does is regarded by popular opinion as an unworthy minister.Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.
But in other cases men do not realize that the same principle should apply. If a man agrees with everything that popular opinion says and regards as good everything that popular opinion regards as good, he is not, as you might expect, called a sycophant and a flatterer. Are we to assume, then, that popular opinion commands more authority than one's parents, or is more to be honored than one's lord?
Call a man a sycophant and he flushes with anger; call him a flatterer and he turns crimson with rage. Yet all his life he will continue to be a sycophant, all his life he will continue to be a flatterer.
See him set forth his analogies and polish his fine phrases to draw a crowd, until the beginning and end, the root and branches of his argument no longer match!
See him spread out his robes, display his bright colors, put on a solemn face in hopes of currying favor with the age - and yet he does not recognize himself as a sycophant or a flatterer.
See him with his followers laying down the law on right and wrong and yet he does not recognize himself as one of the mob. This is the height of foolishness!
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Chapter 12, Part 14A - Chuang Tzu
Posted by The Rambling Taoist at 7:30 AM
Labels: Chuang Tzu, Quotes, Taoism
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