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Verse Eighty


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009

Verse Eighty
Witter Bynner, 1944

If a land is small and its people are few,
With tenfold enough to have and to do,
And if no one has schooled them to waste supply
In the country for which they live and would die,
Then not a boat, not a cart
Tempts this people to depart,
Not a dagger, not a bow
Has to be drawn or bent for show,
People reckon by knots in a cord,
Relish plain food on the board,
Simple clothing suits them well,
And they remain content to dwell
In homes their customs can afford.
Though so close to their own town another town grow
They can hear its dogs bark and its roosters crow,
Yet glad of life in the village they know,
Where else in the world shall they need to go?

Verse Eighty
Herrymon Maurer, 1985

Oh for a small country with few people!
There may be contrivances
In ten-fold or hundred-fold abundance,
But the people don't use them.
Let the people mind death
And not move away.
Tough there are boats and carriages,
There is no occasion to ride them.
Though there are weapons and arms,
There is no occasion to show them.
Let the people again knot cords.
Let them enjoy their food,
Take pleasure in their clothes,
Find contentment in their houses,
And delight in their tasks.
Another country may be so near
That each hears the noise
Of the other's cocks and dogs,
But until the end of their days,
The two people never mingle.

Verse Eighty
Stephen Mitchell, 1988

If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don't waste time inventing
labor-saving machines.
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren't interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don't go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009

This verse seems to be about simple living, which means something different today than it did 2500 years ago. Maybe most of us on this forum practice simple living to some extent. People in poorer parts of the world probably wouldn't call it simple living though. It would be luxurious for some to even have safe water to drink.

I think this verse is about satisfaction with life itself. For me two-way seeing brings wholeness, and there is great satisfaction in that. The search for answers is over. Everyone's different. Some will never find satisfactory answers. People have speculated that seeing doesn't appeal to many people because it is too simple. I don't really know. It is simple, but it seems to me you have to be ready for it. Douglas used the expression "fed up to the back teeth." I found myself in that position many years ago. I knew what I was being told was plain wrong. When I discovered that the basis of it all was so radically wrong, there was a great change. Everything literally fell into place. I located the center and saw the "grand design." It was as simple as a child's game, and it made all the difference. Seeing sorted everything, and it sorted Nothing. What else could I ask for? What else is possible? After this, what else has any kind of deep meaning?

This verse can be read on a strictly third person level, and it should be read that way too. Living way beyond our needs does rob others of even a basic living. The abundance of the world could be enjoyed by so many more people if we all set our sights on simplicity. That doesn't seem about to happen.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009

This is a beautiful verse, that links with the "without leaving the room, know the whole world..." idea imo
When finances allow me to flee the computer screen and what is miss-named "work" I enjoy a form of simple living...
What (appears to me to) link that and this verse is the fact that everything (I) could wish for is here in the present moment, wherever i happen to be...
So "happiness" is independent of possessions and position? Let's say, is dependent on presence...
That said, I happen to prefer sitting in a woodland clearing with the sheep around me, enjoying the birdsong, fragrances and blooming life all around!
As regards being "fed up to the back teeth..." very yes! the greatest grace I've ever received, it sometimes seems, is to be right up against the wall;
You say
Quote:
Living way beyond our needs does rob others of even a basic living.

Quite so, and it brings additional stress to the "thief" ...
Finding contentment in the village is not so far from "...see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." as friend William Blake puts it
love to all
simon


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009

I remember Ajahn Sumedho
an insightful Buddhist monk saying.
People want high standards in all sorts of thing.The best carpets,
the most expensive dog etc
but a high standard of contenment was something he encouraged
his community to have.

I suppose it's a case of which high standards you choose.
A high standard of gratitude, contenment, simplicity, frugality,
generosity sound a bit strange
as you don't hear any one talk that way.
But these high standards might well help
with the fed up to the back teeth feeling.

Quote:
As regards being "fed up to the back teeth..." very yes! the greatest grace I've ever received, it sometimes seems, is to be right up against the wall;

It's funny how the" back teeth feeling" has to happen sometimes
to push you out of a rut in to the light.

Contentment to all, : ))

Steve


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009

Quote:
So "happiness" is independent of possessions and position? Let's say, is dependent on presence...

I like that you used the word happiness, Simon. I usually say that presence brings satisfaction, which seems like a much milder word.. Other good words are delight, fulfillement, and, as Steve says, contentment.

Quote:
A high standard of gratitude, contentment, simplicity, frugality, generosity sound a bit strange as you don't hear any one talk that way.

That's a great reversal, Steve. So many verses are about reversal, it's easy to overlook. I'm glad you spotted this one.

Jim


From: ja_juan
Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2009

Indeed, this verse is beautiful.

Mmmm, it can be talking about two facets of a "good governor and society", of "fullfilment" and acceptance of life.
The personal one, and the social one.

I don't think that the writer would object to a luxury, he would probably not bother to work hard to get it also.
But what is around us is what is around us. What our life is, it is. What we see, is, honestly what we see (and have).

And that can fulfill us or not, according to what governs our lives (our minds and our governments).

Well, 2 facets, the private one and the social one:
1-personal)
Our "mind" governs our lives (or so it thinks ).
Is it a good governor?

EVERYWHERE you can be at home, living the most satisfying peaceful life.
There are many philosophies/knowledge, or other "countries" to conquer...but if you're content will you "visit" them?

If the government (meaning the mind) governs well, our state will be one of bliss and contentment.
If you live by the truth of what you see, then even hard labor work will be satisfying cause that will be a miracle like everything else.

Where should you go, or what should you strive to "improve" if you're simple and honest?

2-social)
Our governments lead our social lives with laws and by giving us social tasks.

Most advertising today has given us "goals", skills to cultivate... too much to do.
This seems to be a society where most don't accept what there is.
Whatever "is", is to simple to be of any value for the conquering mind.
We look down on it. We have become "snobbish".

What is a guy with a family and a house?
He is a guy with a family and a house.
This is the truth. This is satisfying.
If you think that something is wrong, that the world is a place full of conspiracies, then you work harder to "find" answers, to be "more fulfilled"... to climb up the ladder (to where??).

After all, you're here, the world is here, and then everything disappears (death).
All the social advancement seems to lead to a goal but actually it leads to where you already are.
All there is is the joy of the trip (actually there is not even a trip cause you're already there... where you are... nowhere).

And when the trip seems satisfying, there's no need to get on a boat and see the world, even though that may happen.


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