Friday, October 28, 2005

tao teh ching 13

Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by 'Accept disgrace willingly'?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with looss and gain.
This is called 'accepting disgrace willingly'.

What do you mean by 'Accept misfortune as the human condition'?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrendur yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

Both the Ma wang tui text and Lau read this singularly differently. I give Henricks's Ma wang tui in full:

'Regard favour and disgrace with alarm.'
'Respect great distress as you do your own person.'
What do I mean when I say 'Regard favour and disgrace with alarm'?
Favour is inferior.
If you get it - be alarmed!
If you lose it - be alarmed!
This is what I mean when I say 'Regard favour and disgrace with alarm'.
What do I mean when I say 'Respect great distress as you do your own person'?
The reason I have great distress
Is that I have a body.
If I had no body, what distress would I have?
Therefore, to one who values acting for himself over acting on behalf of the world,
You can entrust the world.
And to one who in being parsimonious regards his person as as equal to the world,
You can turn over the world.

Wang Pi is interesting here. Citing his commentary in part... "Favour and disgrace are equivalent and honour and calamity mean the same thing... Great calamity is associated with 'honour' and 'favour'. To place great emphasis on life is certainly to enter the land of death. This is why the text refers to self-importance as a 'great calamity'. When one confuses one's person - one's individual existence - with honour and favour this means one has exchanged it for them... It stems from being bound by one's own person, (and) when one reverst to the natural (what calamity could befall one?)... Only someone who refrains from harming his own person because of favour, disgrace, honour or calamity, and who would never exchange it for these things, may have l under heaven handed over and entrusted to him."

Cheng reads the second line as 'Treat great calamities as if they were happening to yourself,' and it's explanation a few lines later as 'I am able to feel great calamities because I have a sel./ If I have no self, what calamity is there?

His commentary on the verse is interesting too: 'Everything depends on whether one can regard onself as one would one's abdomen. Is not the effect of favour conferred from those above like the effect of the five colours, the five tones and the five flavours? If one takes oneself too seriously, in the end one will suffer from the harm inherent in these, and this is greatly to be avoided. On the other hand, if one can regard oneself as being as empty as one's abdomen - which then becomes filled with ch'i - then one can receive 'the advantage of what is there, and the utility of its vacancy'. In such a case, what calamity could there be? In other words - as in chapter 7 - '(one) considers oneself and outsider and yet finds oneself in the mainstream'.

The Dogen quote below pretty much sums up all of this, does it not? No need for me to chip in my ha'p'orth.


To study the Way means to study the self.
To study the self means to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.
To be enlightened by all things is to remove all barriers between oneself and others.

Dogen Zenji - Genjo Koan

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