The heavy is the root of the light;
The still is the lord of the restless.
Therefore the gentleman when travelling all day
Never lets the heavily laden carts out of his sight.
It is only when he is safely behind walls and watch towers
That he rests peacefully and is above worries.
How, then, should a ruler of ten thousand chariots
Make light of his own person in the eyes of the empire?
If light, then the root is lost;
If restless, then the lord is lost.
If I have any `free will` or `free choice` in life it emanates from the wisdom to prefer the stillness of contentment over restless desires. All other occasions of so called free choice are really just an internal struggle between two or more desires; the strongest of which wins out. How can this psychological process pass for free choice—it’s a myth. Only the wisdom of letting go of a desire for the sake of maintaining stillness might rationally be considered free will.
Heavily laden carts speaks to the deepest root of my soul; this, the home of my integrity. I’m able to keep above worries as long as I don’t let this out of my sight. Flights of light and restless fancy (desire) cause me to neglect integrity. Of course, I always return to my heavy root; it’s just that the journey is jarring and unsettling. I prefer to remain peaceful.
The watch in being safely behind walls and watch towers is crucial. The Bible also refers to the practice of watching. In Mathew 24:42, for example: `Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.` I would only rephrase it a bit to `Watch therefore to remain connected to your lord. When I’m attentive I feel more secure. Watching keeps me safe physically, (obviously), psychologically, and spiritually.
The heavy and still are the foundation of being. I sense it only so long as I don’t let the heavily laden carts out of his sight. Watchfulness is crucial. When I get distracted by desires, I lose my heavily laden root and float off; then the worries come.
The older Ma Wang Tui manuscript puts it a little differently: The superior man may travel the whole day without leaving his heavy baggage cart and, though inside the court yard of a noisy inn he peacefully rises above it all. Thus, I can only rise above worries by keeping to the heavy root, and still lord. Alas, my biological instincts constantly hood-wink me into believing that I’ll resolve my worries by following my restless urges. This instinct has a very useful basis in nature, but in the civilized circumstances I live under, a little goes a long way.
The Ma Wang Tui also says: if he is hasty he will lose the rulership. My hasty impulses promise quick resolution of my needs, but in truth, this haste usually ends up consuming more time and effort. Haste makes waste. Desire derives its power to motivate by promising a utopian level of contentment and security. The irony is that is does just the opposite. When I finally caught on to this deception, I began to be wary of desire in all its various forms.