The first day a thief who had stolen almost half the treasures of the richest man in the capital was brought into the court. Lao Tzu listened to the case and then he said that the thief and the richest man should both go to jail for six months. The rich man said, “What are you saying? I have been stolen from, I have been robbed—
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Plato begins by having Socrates ask Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from birth. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze only at the wall in front of them and not to look around at the cave,
each other prisoner, or themselves.
We have heard that in towns, the horses pull water from the well.
We also know that there are machines that do this job as well.
But then, what will my son do? What will happen to his health, his constitution, his fate?” Work and rest are both united.
If you wish to relax, toil hard.
Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth. Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign.
WHY WOULD YOU NOT LET YOUR SON HEAR WHAT I SAID? He replied, “I am 90 years old and yet I have the strength to work side by side with a youth of 30. If I engage horses to pull the water, my son will not have the same strength at 90, that I have now. So I pray to you, do not talk of this before my son. It is a question of his health.
Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed. This prisoner would look around and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it difficult for him to see the objects casting the shadows. If he were told that what he is seeing is real instead of the other version of reality he sees on the wall, he would not believe it.
—COULD EVER USE - THIS IS A SUPERFICIAL WAY TO TREAT THE BODY. People who are eminent spend night and day scheming and wondering if they are doing right - this is a shoddy way to treat the body. Man lives his life in company with worry, till he's dull and doddering, then he has spent that much time worrying instead of dying, a bitter lot indeed!
—what kind of justice is this, that you are sending me to jail for the same amount of time as the thief?” Lao Tzu said, “I am certainly being unfair to the thief. Your need to be in jail is greater; you have collected so much money to yourself, deprived so many people… thousands are downtrodden while you collect and collect money.
This is what the world honors: wealth, eminence, long life, a good name. This is what the world finds happiness in: a life of ease, rich food, fine clothes, beautiful sights, sweet sounds. This is what it looks down on: poverty, meanness, early death, a bad name. This is what it finds bitter: a life that knows no rest—
Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men and women, who can get hold of this inaction?
Free from desire you see the mystery. Full of desire
you see the manifestations.
Lao Tzu became very famous, a wise man, and he was without doubt one of the wisest men ever. The emperor of China asked him very humbly to become his chief of the supreme court because nobody could guide the country’s laws better than he could. He tried to persuade the emperor, “I am not the right man,” but the emperor was insistent.
Men of ardor are regarded by the world as good, but their goodness doesn't succeed in keeping them alive. So I don't know whether their goodness is really good or not. Perhaps I think it's good - but not good enough to save their lives. Perhaps I think it's no good - but still good enough to save the lives of others.
"DO YOU NOT KNOW, YOU FOOLISH FELLOW, THAT NOW WE HARNESS HORSES OR OXEN TO DO THIS JOB? WHY ARE VOU UNNECESSARILY TIRING YOURSELF AND THIS YOUNG BOY?” The old man said, “Hush! Pray speak softly lest my son hears! Come after some time when my boy goes for lunch.” Confucius was perplexed. When the youth left, he asked the old man:
The prisoners, according to Plato, would infer from the returning man's blindness due to the darkness, that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out.
—really happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing around as though they couldn't stop - they all say they're happy with it. I'm not happy with it and I'm not unhappy with it. In the end is there really happiness or isn't there?
Lao Tzu said, “If you don’t listen to me… just one day in the court and you will be convinced that I am not the right man because the system is wrong. Out of humbleness I was not saying the truth to you. Either I can exist or your law and order so in place and your society
can exist… let us try it.”
In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he is accustomed to (that is, the shadows of the carried objects). He writes "... it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what is being shown to him."
Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the
prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do just as showmen have screens in front of them.
For what? Your very greed is creating these thieves.
You are the responsible for it. The first crime is yours."
Lessen selfishness and restrain desires. The sage desires no desire, does not value rare treasures, learns without learning,
recovers what people have left behind.
So I say, if your loyal advice isn't heeded, give way and do not wrangle. Tzu-hsu wrangled and lost his body. But if he hadn't wrangled, he wouldn't have made a name. Is there really such a thing as goodness or isn't there? What ordinary people do and what they find happiness in - I don't know whether such happiness is in the end—
Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the world outside the cave was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; "he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]" and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave of shadows and into the sunlight.
"Suppose... that someone should drag him... by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun." The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him further.
Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself." Only after he can look straight at the sun
is he able to reason about it, and what it really is.
The prisoners cannot see what happens behind them, they are only able to see shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of talking echo off the walls and the prisoners believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests the shadows are real for the prisoners as they have never seen anything else.
I take inaction to be true happiness, but ordinary people think it is a bitter thing. I say: perfect happiness knows no happiness, perfect praise knows no praise. The world can't decide what is right and what is wrong. And yet inaction can decide this. Perfect happiness, keeping alive - only inaction gets you close to this!
—A MOUTH THAT GETS NO RICH FOOD, NO FINE CLOTHES FOR THE BODY, NO BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS FOR THE EYE, NO SWEET SOUNDS FOR THE EAR. People who can't get these things fret a great deal and are afraid - this is a stupid way to treat the body. People who are rich wear themselves out rushing around on business, piling up more wealth than they—
an old follower of Lao Tzu, who was 90 years old, was busy pulling water from the well, together with his young son. Confucius happened to pass by. He saw the old man and his young son, yoked together pulling water from the well. He was filled with compassion. He went up to the old man and said...