March 28, 2009

DIVISION 12 (第十二)

The five colors blind a person's eyes.
The five musical notes deafen a person's ears.
The five tastes injure the palate.
Horse racing, hunting, and chasing
Makes a mind go wild with excitement.
Goods hard to come by
Serve to hinder (one's) progress.
That is why the shèng rén tends to the belly, not the eye,
Always ignores that and choses this.

COMMENTARY by Koeng S. Wan:
The shèng rén (sage) is admonished to tend to his physical needs and avoid sensual pleasures and luxuries.

The Lǎo Zǐ warns that constant exposure to pleasurable sights, sounds, tastes, exciting experiences, and luxuries can make a person less sensitive or aware of what is happening around him – causes for kinds of blindness, deafness, tastelessness, confusion, or plain senselessness. As mentioned in the commentary in Division 10, the Sù Wèn described these kinds of losses in awareness as a kind of sleep. The admonishment may be motivated by the need for people to be sensitive and vigilant to detect changes that will help them avoid future troubles (Division 63), and to enable them to attain a state of quietude necessary to achieve enlightenment (Division 16).