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On Perception


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(translated by Nina Correa)


Jian Wu asked of Lian Shu:


"I heard something from Jie Yu that sounds really great but impractical. He rambled on but none of it made any sense. I was surprised and horrified by what he said. It seemed like empty talk that went nowhere. It was like it was just meant to make him appear to know something, but had nothing to do with what people actually go through in their lives."


Lian Shu asked:

"What did he say?"


Wu replied:

"He said there's a holy man living in the Miao Gu She mountains. His skin is like ice and snow - as soft and tender as a young maiden. He doesn't eat what others eat, but inhales the wind and drinks the dew. He rides on the clouds, holding the reins of a flying dragon, and travels beyond the four seas. His spirit is so concentrated that he can keep illness away from other creatures and make sure there's a rich harvest every year. I think he's nuts and don't believe a word he says."


Lian Shu said:

"No wonder. A blind person can't participate in looking at paintings and tapestries. A deaf person can't participate in listening to chimes and drums. Can't the mind, as well as the body, experience deafness and blindness? So, knowledge can be affected that way as well. Those words of his seem to have a gentle feminine approach. A person like that, with those virtues, would side with all living creatures - seeing them as all the same. This generation thrives on disorder - abuse and manipulation are what matter in the world! No living thing would harm a person like that. A great flood sent down from the sky wouldn't drown him. A great flow of molten lava coming down from a mountain wouldn't burn him. Even though his dust, dirt and debris could be used to make a model for Yao and Shun, who would want to take on that job?

"A merchant from the state of Song brought some badges and medals which he thought could be useful for various purposes to the people in the state of Yue. The people from Yue shaved their heads and tattooed their bodies, so they had no place to put the badges. Yao ruled all the people in the world and governed the four seas. He went to see the four respected Masters in the Miao Gu She mountains, in a remote and obscure area north of the Fen River. While he was there, he mourned for the rest of the world."

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