Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 12, Part 9

Trey Smith

Yao's teacher was Hsu Yu, Hsu! Yu's teacher was Nieh Ch'ueh, Nieh Ch'ueh's teacher was Wang Ni, and Wang Ni's teacher was P'i-i. Yao asked Hsu Yu, "Would Nieh Ch'ueh do as the counterpart of Heaven? I could get Wang Ni to ask him to take over the throne from me."

Hsu Yu said, "Watch out! You'll put the world in danger! Nieh Ch'ueh is a man of keen intelligence and superb understanding, nimble-wined and sharp. His inborn nature surpasses that of other men, and he knows how to exploit what Heaven has given him through human devices. He would do his best to prevent error, but he doesn't understand the source from which error arises. Make him the counterpart of Heaven? Watch - he will start leaning on men and forget about Heaven. He will put himself first and relegate others to a class apart. He will worship knowledge and chase after it with the speed of fire. He will become the servant of causes, the victim of things, looking in all four directions to see how things are faring, trying to attend to all wants, changing along with things and possessing no trace of any constancy of his own. How could he possibly do as counterpart of Heaven? However, there are clans and there are clan heads. He might do as the father of one branch, though he would never do as the father of the father of the branch. His kind are the forerunners of disorder, a disaster to the ministers facing north, a peril to the sovereign facing south!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
All leaders are flawed. No matter their charisma and rhetoric, the very fact that they desire to lead in the first place means that they want to be out front. This is as true of the despot as it is of a benevolent king or queen.

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

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