Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chuang Tzu - The empty boat

 He who rules men lives in confusion;
    He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.
    Yao therefore desired
    Neither to influence others
    Nor to be influenced by them.
    The way to get clear of confusion
    And free of sorrow
    Is to live with Tao
    In the land of the great Void.

    If a man is crossing a river
    And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
    Even though he be a bad-tempered man
    He will not become very angry.
    But if he sees a man in the boat,
    He will shout at him to steer clear.
    If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
    And yet again, and begin cursing.
    And all because there is somebody in the boat.
    Yet if the boat were empty.
    He would not be shouting, and not angry.

    If you can empty your own boat
    Crossing the river of the world,
    No one will oppose you,
    No one will seek to harm you.

    The straight tree is the first to be cut down,
    The spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.
    If you wish to improve your wisdom
    And shame the ignorant,
    To cultivate your character
    And outshine others;
    A light will shine around you
    As if you had swallowed the sun and the moon:
    You will not avoid calamity.

    A wise man has said:
    “He who is content with himself
    Has done a worthless work.
    Achievement is the beginning of failure.
    Fame is beginning of disgrace.”

    Who can free himself from achievement
    And from fame, descend and be lost
    Amid the masses of men?
    He will flow like Tao, unseen,
    He will go about like Life itself
    With no name and no home.
    Simple is he, without distinction.
    To all appearances he is a fool.
    His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
    He achieves nothing, has no reputation.
    Since he judges no one
    No one judges him.
    Such is the perfect man:
    His boat is empty.

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