In the world today, the victims of the death penalty lie heaped together, the bearers of cangues tread on each other's heels, the sufferers of punishment are never out of each other's sight. And now come the Confucianists and Mo-ists, waving their arms, striding into the very midst of the fettered and manacled men. Ah, that then should go this far, that they should be so brazen, so lacking in any sense of shame! Who can convince me that sagely wisdom is not in fact the wedge that fastens the cangue, that benevolence and righteousness are not in fact the loop and lock of these fetters and manacles? How do I know that Tseng and Shih are not the whistling arrows that signal the approach of Chieh and Chih? Therefore I say, cut off sageness, cast away wisdom, and the world will be in perfect order.The various victims described are each of us. Every one of us has been cast with imperfections. Because each individual must face their own struggles, society as a whole necessarily suffers from the same afflictions.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.