Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 14

Trey Smith

Chiang-lu Mien went to see Chi Ch'e and said, "The ruler of Lu begged me to give him some instruction. I declined, but he wouldn't let me go and so I had no choice but to tell him something. I don't know whether what I said was right or not, but I would like to try repeating it to you. I said to the ruler of Lu, `You must be courteous and temperate! Pick out and promote those who are loyal and public-spirited, allow no flattery or favoritism, and then who of your people will venture to be unruly?' "

Chi Ch'e heehawed with laughter. "As far as the Virtue of emperors and kings is concerned," he said, "your advice is like the praying mantis that waved its arms angrily in front of an approaching carriage - it just isn't up to the job. If the ruler of Lu went about it that way, he would simply get himself all stirred up, place himself on a tower or a terrace. Then things would flock around him and the crowd would turn its steps in his direction!"

Chiang-lu Mien's eyes bugged out in amazement. "I am dumfounded by your words," he said. "Nevertheless, I would like to hear how the Master would speak on this subject."

Chi Ch'e said, "When a great sage rules the world, he makes the minds of his people free and far-wandering. On this basis he fashions teachings and simplifies customs, wiping out all treason from their minds and allowing each to pursue his own will. All is done in accordance with the inborn nature, and yet the people do not know why it is like this. Proceeding in this way, what need has he either to revere the way in which Yao and Shun taught their people, or to look down on it in lofty contempt? His only desire is for unity with Virtue and the repose of the mind."

~ Burton Watson translation ~
To my mind's eye, what Chi Ch'e said is reminiscent of the last three lines of Verse 17 of the Tao Te Ching (Derek Lin translation):
Proceeding calmly, valuing their words
Task accomplished, matter settled
The people all say, "We did it naturally"
To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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