When the people are not afraid of death, wherefore frighten them with death?
Were the people always afraid of death, and were I able to arrest and put to
death those who innovate, then who would dare? There is a regular executioner
whose charge it is to kill. To kill on behalf of the executioner is what is
described as chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter. In chopping wood
on behalf of the master carpenter, there are few who escape hurting their own
Wherefore frighten them with death? is such a common social phenomenon. All my life people have attempted to caution me about this or that, or visa versa. Such meddling allows us to avoid dealing with our own life—it just easier to try to fix other people than ourselves. It’s so endemic to our specie that it must be based in our tribal instinct.
To either frighten them with death? or to arrest and put to death those who innovate is an attempt to take over the work of the way. If I butt in and take control, then how will circumstances bring them to maturity [see ch. 51]. Surely this amounts to chopping wood on behalf of the master? That I need to control the situation is really a reflection of my own shortcomings.
I am reminded of Woe to him who willfully innovates while ignorant of the constant [see ch. 16]. I’m more comfortable with life now that I take time to deepen my perspective and REALLY consider the consequences of my actions. In this way I become a master—of my life anyway. This has always seemed a worthy goal, but as a young man I was often in too big a hurry and too sure of myself. I’m lucky I didn’t end up hurting (my) own hands more than I did.
I don’t have much occasion to kill on behalf of the executioner. But, my life is full of taking action, which is a metaphorical parallel. This puts me in mind of the Christian notion of doing Gods work, or of the Islamic, if God wills. When I think of the way as being the executioner and I merely the instrument, the lonely burden of individuality is alleviated. I’m no longer the master who has to measure up. The way is the master and I am the servant.
The need to solve the PROBLEM is like chopping wood on behalf of the master. This presumes that nature got it wrong, made a mistake, and we are going to fix it. This arrogance is coming back to bite us homonids. It works better when I settle for just managing the problems in the least intrusive way possible. This humble approach has fewer adverse consequences, like hurting my own hands.
The urge to kill on behalf of the executioner is simply my lust for authority—to have total control to resolve any and all issues. This is a futile quest; I am who I am by chance of genetics and circumstances. I can only do what I do in this context. To expect more is arrogant folly or wishful thinking. Only when I relinquish authority and take the lower position do I attain true resolution.
When I cling to a certain outcome, I chop wood on behalf of the master. I want it my way. When I let go and let nature take its course, I’m able to experience reality in a much more profound way. It is such a beautiful experience, and yet my instinct constantly pushes me to cling to the narrow.