Thursday, April 17, 2008

Human instincts

“Laozi said,

‘When perfect government prevailed, although neighboring states within sight of each other could hear the crowing of each other’s cocks and the barking of each other’s dogs, the people of each enjoyed their own food, admired their own clothing, were content with their ways and happy in their work, and would grow old and die without having any dealings with each other.’

Yet if we tried to set the world right today by stopping up the eyes and ears of the people, it would prove well-nigh impossible.

The Grand Historian comments:

What it was like before the times of Shen Nung I do not know, but, judging by the Book of Songs and Book of Documents, ever since the time of Emperor Shun and the Hsia Dynasty men have desired to feast their eyes on beautiful women, their ears on music; their mouths have delighted in meat, their bodies in pleasure and comfort, and their hearts in power and glory.

Even if you went from door to door reasoning with them, such deep-rooted habits as these could never changed.

The best thing, then, is to let matters take their own course; the next is to lead people through benefiting them; the next to use exhortations; the next, restrictions; and the worst way of all is to fight against these instincts.”
[The Money-Makers - Records of the Historian – HY Yang and Gladys Yang]

Thus making money is not wrong to satisfy our needs and instincts, it really depends on how we make and/or spend it.

1) Refer to TTC 80 for the entire chapter.
2) Shen Nung or Yandi was a legendary emperor, before the Yellow Emperor, Huangdi.
3) The Book of Songs is also known in the West as the Book of Odes (Shijing). The Book of Documents is also known as the Book of History (Shujing).

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