Judge Not Lest

I’d like to say that I remembered section 2 as well as I remembered section 11, but I’m afraid I’d be lying if I claimed that. In fact I didn’t remember it all, probably because in grad school I was so busy learning the best way to judge what is good or bad that this idea had no chance to register.


All the world knows beauty
but if that becomes beautiful
this becomes ugly
all the world knows good
but if that becomes good
this becomes bad
the coexistence of have and have not
the coproduction of hard and easy
the correlation of long and short
the codependence of high and low
the correspondence of note and noise
the coordination of first and last
is endless
thus the sage performs effortless deeds
and teaches wordless lessons
he doesn’t start all the things he begins
he doesn’t presume on what he does
he doesn’t claim what he achieves
and because he makes no claim
he suffers no loss

It should be obvious to anyone who reads my blog that I occasionally, perhaps more than occasionally, make judgements about the world and what I see. To do so seems human nature, at least part of my nature. It’s certainly part of our culture, and a large part of what I learned to do in the nineteen years I attended school.

I’d like to think that carrying my camera around and looking at the world more closely has helped me to be less judgmental, to see the beauty in all things if I can but see them in the proper light — at least that seems true in the natural world.

Perhaps when I’m a little further along toward self-enlightenment I shall become less judgmental on other matters. At least I’m far enough along that I can see the wisdom in several of the wise men’s comments on this passage that Red Pine cites:

LU HSI-SHENG Says, “What we call beautiful or ugly depends on our feelings. Nothing is necessarily beautiful or ugly until feelings make it so. But while feelings differ, they all come from our nature, and we all have the same nature. Hence the sage transforms his feelings and returns to his nature and thus becomes one again.”

WANG AN-SHIH says, “The sage creates but does not possess what he creates. He acts but does not presume on what he does. He succeeds but does not claim success These three all result from selflessness. Because the sage is selfless, he does not lose his self. Because he does not lose his self, he does not lose others.”

SUNG CH’ANG-HSING says, “Those who practice the Way put an end to distinctions, get rid of name and form, and make of themselves a home for the Way and Virtue.”

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