When going one way means life and going the other means death, three in ten
will be comrades of life, three in ten will be comrades in death, and there are
those who value life and as a result move into the realm of death, and these
number three in ten. Why is this so? Because they set to much store by life. I
have heard it said that one who excels in safeguarding his own life does not
meet with rhinoceros or tiger when traveling on land nor is he touched by
weapons when charging into an army. There is nowhere for the rhinoceros to
pitch its horn; there is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws; there is
nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade. Why is this so? Because for him
there is no realm of death.
The key to this chapter lies in they set to much store by life. Whatever I value becomes that which I’m insecure about losing. The more I cling to life, the larger the realm of death looms. I fear the loss of that which I cherish most. Moreover, I cherish most that which I sense makes up for what I lack. The irony is that clinging only makes the deficit more apparent. Thus, nature is always even handed; to the degree I’m insecure in life, I’ll continue to be, no matter how much I cling to worldly matters to compensate.
I move into the realm of death because I set to much store by life. Of course this arises out of my basic survival instinct. But, this instinct drives my thoughts which extend from yesterday into tomorrow, all of which serve to exasperate the dilemma. Knowing this helps me to not value goods which are hard to come by. [see ch. 64], like life, and just savor this moment. He who lives out his days has had a long life. [see ch. 33]
There is a world of difference between appreciating life and valuing life. Appreciation is like love, passive and accepting. From such love I can also appreciate and accept death. Valuing life is active and clinging, and carries with it the rejection of death. Of course reality can’t be rejected and so it remains in the psyche to haunt you, one way or the other, day in and day out.
One who excels in safeguarding his own life does not meet with death speaks to paying attention. If I’m doing something (like driving) and I’m attentive each moment I act wisely. If I get lost in MY desires and the future, I rush forward recklessly.
One who excels in safeguarding his own life correlates to Jesus’s: Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.(LUKE+17:33). Life brings you the opposite of what you chase. Only by letting go can you receive. Neat! Such is natural justice.
This is like hanging over a cliff and holding on to a branch. If you value life, you sense a great distance between life and death. It is as though you’re suspended 1000 feet and so cling to whatever you can to hold on. If you see the difference between life and death as small and relative, it’s life your just hanging a few feet above the valley of death and aren’t compelled to cling so tightly.
There is nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade as I come to regard life as less substantial and permanent as I once did. I can’t lose what I don’t cling on to.