Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 9, Part 4

Trey Smith

Then along comes the sage, huffing and puffing after benevolence, reaching on tiptoe for righteousness, and the world for the first time has doubts; mooning and mouthing over his music, snipping and stitching away at his rites, and the world for the first time is divided. Thus, if the plain unwrought substance had not been blighted, how would there be any sacrificial goblets? If the white jade had not been shattered, how would there be any scepters and batons? If the Way and its Virtue had not been cast aside, how would there be any call for benevolence and righteousness? If the true form of the inborn nature had not been abandoned, how would there be any use for rites and music? If the five colors had not confused men, who would fashion patterns and hues? If the five notes had not confused them, who would try to tune things by the six tones? That the unwrought substance was blighted in order to fashion implements - this was the crime of the artisan. That the Way and its Virtue were destroyed in order to create benevolence and righteousness - this was the fault of the sage.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To my way of thinking, the sage, in this instance, refers to those who peddle the concept of religion. Religious beliefs are based on external rules. From the standpoint of the Abrahamic religions, these rules are based on what will please or displease "God." These rules introduce the concept of moral calculation: How little can I do to reap the greatest reward or to minimize the worst sanction.

In most instances, the devoutly religious person doesn't do what is "right" for right's sake, they do it to earn brownie points and avoid demerits.

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

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