Discard and confuse the six tones, smash and unstring the pipes and lutes, stop up the ears of the blind musician K'uang, and for the first time the people of the world will be able to hold on to their hearing. Wipe out patterns and designs, scatter the five colors, glue up the eyes of Li Chu, and for the first time the people of the world will be able to hold on to their eyesight. Destroy and cut to pieces the curve and plumb line, throw away the compass and square, shackle the fingers of Artisan Ch'ui, and for the first time the people of the world will possess real skill. Thus it is said, "Great skill is like clumsiness." Put a stop to the ways of Tseng and Shih, gag the mouths of Yang and Mo, wipe out and reject benevolence and righteousness, and for the first time the Virtue of the world will reach the state of Mysterious Leveling."In their own way, me thinks the author of this verse simply is trying to say that life is filled with temptations and distractions. The reason WHY most of us struggle to lead virtuous lives is that there are so many things that dazzle the senses. We allow these sensuous things -- objects, ideas and people -- to worm their way into our egos and, once that happens, we pay far more attention to our desires than anything else.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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