Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Selections from Xunzi V

Scott Bradley

All quotes are from Xunzi: Basic Writings; Burton Watson (Columbia Univ. Press, 2003).


"He who eats by the labor of his hands is not permitted to set up an ancestral temple."

"If the plumb line is properly stretched, then there can be no doubt about crooked and straight."

"[T]he scholar studies how to become a sage."


"The thing that all men should fear is that they will become obsessed by one corner of the truth and fail to comprehend its overall principles." (To believe one can comprehend the truth — how is this not a recipe for becoming obsessed with one corner?)

"There are not two Ways in the world; the sage is never of two minds." (A possible swipe at Zhuangzi's "walk two roads".)

"The mind must first understand the Way before it can approve it. . . . How does a man understand the Way? Through the mind. And how does the mind understand it? Because it is empty, unified, and still."

"[T]he mind is said to be empty because what has already been stored up in it does not hinder the reception of new impressions. Therefore it is said to be empty." (A novel understanding of emptiness.)

"If you guide it [the mind] with reason, nourish it with clarity, and do not allow external objects to unbalance it, then it will be capable of determining right from wrong and resolving doubts."

"On the whole, by understanding the nature of man, you can understand the principles that govern all other beings."

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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