Marblehead

Mair 19:6

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Duke Huan {{Of the state of Ch'i, the first of the five hegemons of the Warring States period who imposed their will on the other feudal states.}} was hunting in the marshes with Kuan Chung {{Prime minister of Duke Huan (q.v.) and the ostensible author of the book entitled Master Kuan (Kuan Tzu).  Kuan Chung died in 645 B.C.E., but the book that bears his name was manifestly compiled centuries later.  It is highly eclectic, including even a few proto-Taoist and Yogic chapters.  The roots of Legalism in China can be traced back to Master Kuan and he may also be viewed as the first economist in China, for it is he who began there the discussion of matters of finance and production.}} as his charioteer when he saw a ghost.  Grabbing hold of Kuan Chung's hand, he asked, "Did you see something, Father Chung?"

"Your servant saw nothing," was the reply.

After the duke returned he babbled incoherently and became ill, so that he did not go out for several days.  There was a scholar of Ch'i named Master Leisurely Ramble who said to him, "Your Highness is harming yourself.  How could a ghost harm you?  If an embolism of vital breath caused by agitation disperses and does not return, what remains will be insufficient; if it rises and does not come back down, it will cause a person to be easily angered; if it descends and does not come back up, it will cause a person to forget easily; if it neither rises nor descends, it will stay in the center of a person's body, clogging his heart, and he will become ill."

"Yes;" said Duke Huan, "but are there ghosts?"

"There are.  In pits there are pacers; around stoves there are tufties.  Fulgurlings frequent dust piles inside the door; croakers and twoads hop about in low-lying places to the northeast; spillsuns frequent low-lying places to the northwest.  In water there are nonimagoes; on hills there are scrabblers; on mountains there are unipedes; in the wilds there are will-o'-the-wisps; and in marshes there are bendcrooks."

"May I ask what a bendcrook looks like?" said the duke.

"The bendcrook," said Master Ramble, "is as big around as the hub of a chariot wheel and as long as the shafts.  It wears purple clothes and a red cap.  This is a creature that hates to hear the sound of rumbling chariots.  When it does, it stands up holding its head in its hands.  He who sees it is likely to become hegemon."

Duke Huan erupted in laughter and said, "This was what I saw."  Whereupon he adjusted his clothing and cap and had Master Ramble sit down with him.  Before the day was over, his illness left him without his even being aware of it.

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So, what is the illness the duke had? 

 

He was fearful over an apparition he saw that his companion had not seen. His companion calmed him by telling him that that particular kind of ghost only appears to one destined to become the ruler. So, rather being a threatening omen, it's a good omen. Oh, well, wthat's different.

 

What's with the nonsensical names given to the various ghosts?

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2 hours ago, OldDog said:

What's with the nonsensical names given to the various ghosts?

That's a Mair thing.  Other translators use the common Chinese names.

 

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20 hours ago, Marblehead said:

That's a Mair thing.  Other translators use the common Chinese names.

 

Yeah, I assumed as much. Don't have a copy of Mair but a quick review of Watson suggested a Mair spin.  Did he in footnotes or other commentary explain his use of nonsensical terms for the ghosts ... is it a fair interpretation of their names?  Seems to trivialize the significance of ghosts in Chinese belief system and thereby making the Duke seem foolish. Which in turn reduces the story the level of a fairytale and makes the whole thing trivial. Any any serious message may be lost in the shuffle.

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You may be missing the subtle possibility,, that this legalist daoist author thinks the ghost stuff is bullshit.

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I didnt see anything out of the ordinary,, but sure, theres Boogymen in closets, Fairies that make dew drops, and we all know the hazards of messin wit Sasquatch, but y'know if it was one of them Giant Boners, this could really work out as a good omen for you! ;)

Edited by Stosh
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3 hours ago, OldDog said:

 

Yeah, I assumed as much. Don't have a copy of Mair but a quick review of Watson suggested a Mair spin.  Did he in footnotes or other commentary explain his use of nonsensical terms for the ghosts ... is it a fair interpretation of their names?  Seems to trivialize the significance of ghosts in Chinese belief system and thereby making the Duke seem foolish. Which in turn reduces the story the level of a fairytale and makes the whole thing trivial. Any any serious message may be lost in the shuffle.

Actually, he had done that throughout the entire translation.  I don't recall him stating why he chose to translate the proper Chinese names to English.

 

And, of course, as I do not read Chinese I have no idea if the translations are fair and correct.

 

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2 hours ago, Stosh said:

You may be missing the subtle possibility,, that this legalist daoist author thinks the ghost stuff is bullshit.

No, that is beyond my consideration.

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2 hours ago, wandelaar said:

The implications and nature of the placebo-effect are far from trivial...

I won't argue that point.  All I can say is that I have not been giving them any value.

 

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16 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

No, that is beyond my consideration.

What the hell does that mean? You see it as a possibility ,but Youre rejecting it cause...

You just dont want to accept that people knew how to express patronizing sentiments back then ?

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2 minutes ago, Stosh said:

What the hell does that mean? You see it as a possibility ,but Youre rejecting it cause...

You just dont want to accept that people knew how to express patronizing sentiments back then ?

No.

 

What I am saying is that Mair did it for a purpose, one which he did not tell us of.

 

The proper names could be anything as far as I'm concerned.  They are meaningless to me because I am looking for and wish to understand the concepts that are being presented.  What the person who said it is called doesn't mean all that much to me.

 

 

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Master Ramble is using Skilful Means (or Taoist tactics) to help Duke Huan with overcoming his illness without having to tell him he is a fool to believe in ghosts. He can do so because of his superior insight into the human psyche, including an appreciation of the placebo-effect.

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35 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

No.

 

What I am saying is that Mair did it for a purpose, one which he did not tell us of.

 

The proper names could be anything as far as I'm concerned.  They are meaningless to me because I am looking for and wish to understand the concepts that are being presented.  What the person who said it is called doesn't mean all that much to me.

 

 

 

Kuan the author, doesnt see ghosts nor offer a fix.

Ramble says Duke is harming himself.

Its Possible that the duke is the bendcrook.Which means neither of the daoists believe in the ghosts an even the duke has his doubts

Master Ramble is second rate he defies the dukes existing beliefs. 

Kuan leaves him to them. 

 

Edited by Stosh

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Kinda like the Buddhists with their:

 

Do Gods exist?

 

No.  But if you pray to them they will help you anyhow.

 

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No, not as far as Kuan is concerned. Thats what second rate Ramble chooses to flesh out the parable.

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So the Duke got the answer he wanted and he was satisfied.  No more worry - no more sickness.

 

 

 

 

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Indeed - Master Ramble succeeds in curing Duke Huan. That's what matters. As a Taoist Master Ramble doesn't care about having or winning an argument.

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I say the taoist master in the story isnt a phony who trades his honesty to be manipulative of his friend nor does he believe in ghosts.

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The deal is clear enough: Master Ramble helped Duke Huan to change his interpretation of events from a sick making point of view to a more healthy optimistic point of view. Master Ramble solved the problem in a realistic manner, taking into account what would be acceptable to Duke Huan as far as changing his point of view was concerned. A perfectly Taoist approach!

 

But the 'help' of Kuan Chung consisted in answering: "Your servant saw nothing." The truth and nothing but the truth, I suppose. But after which Duke Huan didn't change his point of view, and consequently got sick. Prinzipienreiterei doesn't work in real life. As they say:

 

"Jede Konsequenz führt zum Teufel."

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And from this I suppose that we could suggest that telling the truth sometimes doesn't help and could even make things worse.

 

I don't even like the sound of that but I doubt I could prove it to not be true.

 

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Ramble has presumed to redirect the duke away from reacting to a realistic view of the world, and towards a superstitious one pushing him toward an aggressive military stance. 

We cant know if the Duke wouldve just let the

Ghost thing drop anyway.. but we do know it was bs artists who instilled those ideas in his head in the first place. 

I dont want my friends to intentionally warp my impressions of what reality is so as to usurp my ability to react in accord to what it actually is and according to my nature. 

I think the daoist take is to reflect what actually is like the still water. Thst this is the behavior of virtue and being the phony is not.

Edited by Stosh

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But myths and superstitions don't die easily.  Don't want to rock the boat too much.  It might be we who fall into the water.

 

 

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