Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 13, Part 12

Trey Smith

If you speak of the Way and not of its sequence, then it is not a way; and if you speak of a way that is not a way, then how can anyone make his way by it? Therefore the men of ancient times who clearly understood the Great Way first made clear Heaven and then went on to the Way and its Virtue. Having made clear the Way and its Virtue, they went on to benevolence and righteousness. Having made clear benevolence and righteousness, they went on to the observance of duties. Having made clear the observance of duties, they went on to forms and names. Having made clear forms and names, they went on to the assignment of suitable offices. Having made clear the assignment of suitable offices, they went on to the scrutiny of performance. Having made clear the scrutiny of performance, they went on to the judgment of right and wrong. Having made clear the judgment of right and wrong, they went on to rewards and punishments. Having made clear rewards and punishments, they could be certain that stupid and wise were in their proper place, that eminent and lowly were rightly ranked, that good and worthy men as well as unworthy ones showed their true form, that all had duties suited to their abilities, that all acted in accordance with their titles. It was in this way that superiors were served, inferiors were shepherded, external things were ordered, the inner man was trained. Knowledge and scheming were unused, yet all found rest in Heaven. This was called the Great Peace, the Highest Government. Hence the book says, "There are forms and there are names." Forms and names were known to antiquity, but the men of old gave them no precedence.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
When I was in junior high school, I received an F in my algebra class. My problem was that, though I often came up with the correct answers early on, I couldn't explain how I came up with them! I was counted down because I was unable to replicate algebraic formulas.

At the time, I thought this was grossly unfair. Why should anyone care whether or not I grasped the formulas as long as I was able to discern the correct answer? In time, however, I grew to understand the point. As the problems became harder, my convoluted work began generating more and more incorrect answers. Had I understood the process better -- the sequence of calculations -- I wouldn't have struggled so mightily.

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

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