When the great way falls into disuse
There is benevolence and rectitude;
When cleverness emerges
There is great hypocrisy;
When the six relations are at variance
There are filial children;
When the state is benighted
There are loyal ministers.
Benevolence and rectitude clearly accompany civilization. Such humanitarian and righteous ideals distinguish us from the other life on this planet. This is the result of letting the great way falls into disuse. But surely that wasn’t mankind’s intent. I imagine we just want to bypass some of the down side of the great way, like taking the lower position at times. We always want to be on top. This survival instinct backed by our unique cleverness has lead us off the great way.
The great way falls into disuse whenever I jump to idealized notions about how to conduct life instead of taking life’s circumstances one step at a time. Such over thinking disconnects and isolates me in the long run. Any good that comes out of benevolence and rectitude falls short of what was lost initially.
How can the great way falls into disuse? The way is broad, reaching left as well as right [see ch. 34]. While it is all inclusive, my mind doesn’t always feel and appreciate this reality. I try to seize control of life, like some god, and thus the great way falls into disuse conceptually speaking anyway. I think up ideal ways life should be and hang on to them with righteous rectitude.
Rectitude is favoring right and rejecting wrong. When I forget that right and wrong, like good and bad, beautiful and ugly produce each other, I end up favoring rectitude.
Rectitude is rectilinear, as opposed to circular. Circular is murky while rectilinear is direct. Circular, as an approach to life, is difficult to accept because it doesn’t get me anywhere. It feels like loss or death. I suppose the fear of this compels me to take a stand in righteousness rectitude and benevolence. It takes faith to trust the circular nature of the great way. A lack of faith impels me to take control.
It’s cleverness that enables me to indulge in great hypocrisy. On one hand I can find good reasons for you not to shortchange me, but then I can turn around and rationalize why it’s okay for me to take advantage of your mistake even if it’s in my favor; I’ll just rationalize that you have more than enough anyway, insurance will cover it, or…bhah, bhah, bhah. Cleverness allows us to excuse ourselves for the same actions we condemn in others. This is so pervasive it’s no wonder Jesus had so much to say on the issue.
My cleverness is rooted in a need to win—to come out on top. Cleverness comes in different forms: tools, shortcuts, rationalizations. The hypocrisy or pretense in this is that I’m not conforming to how things are, but rather I’m playing a kind of game aimed at putting me in the lead.
Striving to come off appearing more than we really are, naturally, must be based on hierarchical instinct. Our social need to either be accepted or better yet be admired, drives cleverness. We use clothing, jewelry, goods, achievements, diplomas, knowledge, and so on, as personal adornment in this quest to be more.
Variance in any social relation degrades overall harmony. We attempt to make up for our weakened relationships by a show of filial piety and kindness. The deeper my sense of connection, the less pressure I feel to engage in outward displays of connection—gifts, flowers, special occasions, complements, chit chat.
The more insecure and in disarray I am, the stiffer and more upright I become. Such loyal formality betrays my benighted interior. This corresponds to the principle of cosmic balance, I suppose. Exteriors counter-balance interiors. Obvious signs always point to hidden inner forces. Thus, the opposite is also true. When I really ‘have it together’ within, my life is more flexible. What holds for my microcosm holds true for a state. After all, the state is simply a collection of individuals like myself. While this is clear to me now, it took decades to discern. We are so biologically set up to notice how things appear, versus how things might be at a deeper level.
When the state is benighted, there are loyal ministers would seem to be a contradiction. I think of it as two sides of the same coin. The Taoist principle of something and nothing producing each other[see ch. 2]. is at work in everything-nothing. Furthermore, the more obvious something is, the more likely there is a powerful hidden cause; extremes produce each other.
My cleverness expresses itself as an urge to be witty sometimes. This especially occurs around other males with whom I’ve yet to develop a deeper connection. This usually leaves me feeling insincere and hypocritical; I’m strutting like a peacock spreading feathers and conveying an image—not who I really am. It’s odd.