Monday, December 19, 2005

tao teh ching 65

In the beginning those who knew the Tao did not try to enlighten others
But kept them in the dark.
Why is it so hard to rule?
Because people are so clever.
Rulers who try to use cleverness
Cheat the country.
Those who rule without cleverness
Are a blessing to the land.
These are the two alternatives.
Understanding these is Primal Virtue.
Primal Virtue is deep and far.
It leads all things back
Toward the great oneness[1].

[1] Lau has, '...But when things turn back it turns back with them./ Only then is complete conformity realised'. The Ma wang tui text says, '... And together with things it returns./ Thus we arrive at the Great Accord'.

Henricks asks the rather cogent question concerning this and chs. 3 and 5... Is it a population of sheep the Taoist sage is after, or does this mean doing away with the downside — the craftiness and self–serving, self–satisfied 'knowledge' — of what is generally considered learning?

Wang Pi says:

'Intelligent' means that much knowledge and clever duplicity obscure pristine simplicity. 'Stupid' means that freedom from knowledge and preservation of authenticity allow us to follow the Natural...
'Knowledge' and 'governance' are pretty much homophonic in Chinese inasmuch as both are pronounced chih... One should ensure that one blocks up the apertures and shuts the doors so that the common folk stay free of knowledge and desire. If, instead, one tries to motivate them through knowledge and methods, once their heart/minds are incited to evil, one will need to use even cleverer methods to keep their dishonest activities in check. However, because the common folk understand how these methods work, they will take protective steps and strive to avoid them. The more secretive and clever thinking becomes, the more treachery will proliferate...
Understanding these two is a rule that holds true for both ancient and modern times and it should thus never be abandoned. The ability to understand the consistent is called 'mysterious virtue', and is, indeed, profound and far–reaching.

Professor Cheng says: Guiding the people into ignorance will eventually control cleverness. This is 'to return'. People will eventually seek out the orthodox path. Starting from the extremely difficult to finally reach the easiest and starting from the Great Opposition to finally return to the Great Confluence are formulae of Lao–tze. An 'eternal pattern' is a model which has long held true. Chapter 10 explains Profound Teh. This chapter restates that explanation.

Since the Way — true realisation of emptiness and its manifestation — far transcends anything that can be grasped by the ordinary intellect or expressed in words that do more than merely point to it like fingers pointing at the moon, knowledge is not much use. The problem with cleverness is that, since it quickly understands things within the limits of its own terms, it never really goes on to put them into practice. Surely everything that has been said in this text and the various commentaries up to now we all 'know'... But of what use is that to us if we don't put it into practice.
An old Tibetan saying points out that mere knowledge is like a patch: it comes off when we are most in need of i, and that occasional meditative experiences are like mist and fade as the day advances. All of these are the domain of 'cleverness', but — unfortunately — our cleverness, based as it is in our limited sensory apparatus and labyrinth of convictions, opinions, hopes and fears, does not reach very far.
Only those who step outside their own version of cleverness ever meet with reality face–to–face. The rest of us do all our thinking about it second hand.

How sad!

No comments: