Freeing Confucius from his handcuffs and fetters

Stumping along, having had his foot cut off, Shu-shan No-Toes comes to see Confucius then tells the story to Lao Tzu but first Confucius admonishes him for not being careful enough saying “Since you’ve already broken the law and gotten in trouble like this, why do you come to see me now?”  No-toes said “I just did not understand my duty and was too careless with my body, and so I lost a foot”. Then added, “But I’ve come now because I have learned that there is something much more important than holding on to a foot and I want to hold on to it. I have learned there is nothing that heaven doesn’t cover and nothing that earth doesn’t bear up.  I supposed my dear Master that you would be like heaven and earth. How did I know you would act this way?  Later No-Toes told the story to Lao Tzu conveying that “Confucius certainly hasn’t reached the stage of a Perfected Man, has he? What does he mean by coming around so obsequiously to study with you?  His being so deferential to you is a sham illusion of fame and ego trying to garner a reputation.  Doesn’t he know the Perfected Man looks on these as so many handcuffs and fetters?”

Lao Tzu had known Confucius reputation well before his visit and knew the craving for fame that Confucius had, but also his knowledge at being able to assemble and convey pieces of history, and ability to give wise counsel.  In closing, Lao Tzu told No Toes to go back and tell Confucius that life and death are the same story and that what is acceptable and unacceptable are on the same string. That he would be far better off by freeing himself of the handcuffs and fetters of his ego and so high opinion of himself.  No-Toes concludes saying, “Since Heaven will have the final say, how can you set him free?”

By 1dandecarlo

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