Friday, August 16, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 19, Part 21

Trey Smith

A certain Sun Hsiu appeared at the gate of Master Pien Ch'ing-tzu to pay him a call. "When I was living in the village," he said, "no one ever said I lacked good conduct. When I faced difficulty, no one ever said I lacked courage. Yet when I worked the fields, it never seemed to be a good year for crops, and when I served the ruler, it never seemed to be a good time for advancement. So I am an outcast from the villages, an exile from the towns. What crime have I committed against Heaven? Why should I meet this fate?"

Master Pien said, "Have you never heard how the Perfect Man conducts himself? He forgets his liver and gall and thinks no more about his eyes and ears. Vague and aimless, he wanders beyond the dirt and dust; free and easy, tending to nothing is his job. This is what is called `doing but not looking for any thanks, bringing up but not bossing.’ Now you show off your wisdom in order to astound the ignorant, work at your good conduct in order to distinguish yourself from the disreputable, going around bright and shining as though you were carrying the sun and moon in your hand! You've managed to keep your body in one piece, you have all the ordinary nine openings, you haven't been struck down midway by blindness or deafness, lameness or deformity - compared to a lot of people, you're a lucky man. How do you have any time to go around complaining against Heaven? Be on your way!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Fame, like riches, spurs an insatiable appetite. It doesn't matter how many people hold you in high esteem; it's never enough. You're always looking for more people to heap praises on you and you worry about losing the regard of those who think highly of you now.

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

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