The man who owns a sword from Kan or Yueh lays it in a box and stores it away, not daring to use it, for to him it is the greatest of treasures. Pure spirit reaches in the four directions, flows now this way, now that - there is no place it does not extend to. Above, it brushes Heaven; below, it coils on the earth. It transforms and nurses the ten thousand things, but no one can make out its form. Its name is called One-with-Heaven. The way to purity and whiteness is to guard the spirit, this alone; guard it and never lose it, and you will become one with spirit, one with its pure essence, which communicates and mingles with the Heavenly Order. The common saying has it, "The ordinary man prizes gain, the man of integrity prizes name, the worthy man honors ambition, the sage values spiritual essence." Whiteness means there is nothing mixed in; purity means the spirit is never impaired. He who can embody purity and whiteness may be called the True Man.We each own swords -- tools with which to injure ourselves or others. We keep them within easy reach, so that they quickly can be brandished.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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