Thursday, November 29, 2012

From the Book of Tzu-Youzi: Neither Rank Nor Sweet

Scott Bradley

Wenzi came to Tzu-youzi in distress and asked, "Master, there is a man in Lu who teaches a way of disharmony and things that would not issue from your lips, nor as much as enter your mind, yet he has so many disciples he has to turn them away. How can these things be?"

Tzu-youzi smiled and replied, "If this distresses you, then would you not do better to follow him? It is said that ants come to mutton because it is rank and bees to honey because it is sweet, yet for ants mutton is as good as sweet and for bees honey is as good as rank. If disharmony distresses you, then perhaps your sweet is really rank or your rank is really sweet."

"But Master," replied Wenzi, "you teach a way of harmony and it is harmony that I seek. You have taught me that I seek what I do not have and I do not have it because I seek. Should I then abandon the harmony I do not have for the disharmony that I do? Will I find harmony in my disharmony?"

"Did not the sage Zhuangzi teach just this?" answered Tzu-youzi. "People point to Heaven and mutter "harmony", but where is harmony anywhere to be found? "Tranquility in Turmoil" is the way of harmony and nowhere else does it arise."

"What business have you distressing over the teachings of another?" Tzu-youzi continued. "Would you not do better to ask after the reasons for your own distress? Harmony does not seek harmony, for it has no need to harmonize."

"As for having multitudes of disciples," he concluded, "let that be the concern of those who haggle over what is rank and what is sweet."

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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