Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 24, Part 5

Trey Smith

Marquis Wu said, "I have in fact been hoping to see you for a long time, Sir. I would like to cherish my people, practice righteousness, and lay down the weapons of war -- how would that do?"

"It won't!" said Hsu Wu-kuei "To cherish the people is to open the way to harming them! To practice righteousness and lay down your weapons is to sow the seeds for more weapon-wielding! If you go at it this way, I'm afraid you will never succeed. All attempts to create something admirable are the weapons of evil. You may think you are practicing benevolence and righteousness, but in effect you will be creating a kind of artificiality. Where a model exists, copies will be made of it; where success has been gained, boasting follows; where debate exists, there will be outbreaks of hostility. On the other hand, it will not do, my lord, to have files of marching soldiers filling the whole area within your fortress towers, or ranks of cavalry drawn up before the Palace of the Black Altar. Do not store in your heart what is contrary to your interests. Do not try to outdo others in skill. Do not try to overcome others by stratagems. Do not try to conquer others in battle. If you kill the officials and people of another ruler and annex his lands, using them to nourish your personal desires and your spirit, then I cannot say which contender is the better fighter, and to which the real victory belongs! If you must do something, cultivate the sincerity which is in your breast and use it to respond without opposition to the true form of Heaven and earth. Then the people will have won their reprieve from death. What need will there be for you to resort to this `laying down of weapons'?"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Too often, the goal of sincerity or virtue is to get something our egos desire. We use these ideals as ploys, not as something that are ends unto themselves.

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

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