Monday, January 02, 2006

tao teh ching 79

After a bitter quarrel, some resentment must remain.
What can one do about it[1]?
Therefore the sage keeps his half of the bargain[2]
But does not exact his due.
The man of Virtue performs his part,
But a man without Virtue requires others to fulfil their obligations.
The Tao of heaven is impartial.
It stays with good men all the time.

[1] Lau, borne out by the Ma wang tui reading, has:

When peace is made between great enemies
Some enmity is bound to remain undispelled.
How can this be considered perfect?

[2] Lau has '... the sage takes the left–hand tally...' with a note to the effect that the left–hand tally was the half held by the creditor. This is also the version of the Ma wang tui B text, but the A text has him holding on to the right–hand tally, with a note that this was the part due to the superior partner in any contract. Henricks then argues — quite cogently, I think — that this is actually what is being said here: that although the sage is owed much, he does not exact payment. He causes no resentment because he makes no demands on others and does not expect them to live up to their part of the bargain.

Wang Pi says:

If one has not arranged a contract clearly, and, as such, allows things to reach a point where great resentment has already arisen before using virtue to restore harmony, the injury will not be healed.
It is by holding the left half of the tally that he prevents reasons for resentment from arising.
A person of virtue considers his contracts carefully and does not allow resentment to arise and then blame the other party.
The person without virtue scrutinizes and corrects the mistakes of others.

Cheng says: Hatred is related to malice; goodness to kindness. As kindness cannot mix with hatred, goodness cannot harmonise with evil. Compromising with hatred is unworthy of the good. The Sage, holding the tally–stick, waits for the man with Teh to take the other half. This is harmonious. The man with no Teh loses hold of the stick and slips away. The Tao of heaven is without selfish preferences. It dwells only with the virtuous and the good.

At this point in the Ma wang tui text there is a note saying: Teh — 3041 characters, and, at the end of ch. 37, has another saying Tao — 2426 characters. It thus follows that the full Ma wang tui text originally had a total of 5467 characters whereas the extant Wang Pi text has only 5268 and that of Ho–shang Kung, 5281.
Apparently Fu I (554–639 C.E.) also claimed that he had available to him versions with 5722, 5635, 5683, and 5555 characters.

Interestingly, too, the fact that the tally of characters comes here, and not at the end of ch. 81 where it would seemingly be more logical leads to the conclusion that either the last two chapters are later interpolations (which I doubt — they are, after all, included in the Ma wang tui text which is the oldest version know to us to date), or that they are to be regarded as a sort of summing up — that we have seen all that has been said on both the Way and its authentic and inauthentic forms of Manifestation and that this is now a sort of 'outro', as it were.

We shall see over the next two days, no?

No matter how hard one tries to suppress one's own negativity, to repress and negate it, it will always arise again, and often in ways that are far more powerful and surprising... frightening, even. This is even more true when one tries to meddle with what one considers the negativities of others, and over which one actually has no control at all.
Finally, the only 'technique' is to maintain one's vigilance — one's own part of the bargain — and allow the negativities — the part of the other — to dissolve. If one recognises the thoughts for what they are as they arise, as the continue and as they disappear, how can they ever bring harm?

On the other hand, if one does not, how can they fail to drag one off into universes and infinite webs of cause and effect far beyond one's wildest dreams?

No comments: