There was a time when the forests of the Niu Mountain were beautiful. But can the mountain any longer be regarded as beautiful, since being situated near a big city, the woodsmen have hewed the trees down? The days and nights gave it rest, and the rains and the dew continued to nourish it, and a new life was continually springing up from the soil, but then the cattle and the sheep began to pasture upon it. That is why the Niu Mountain looks so bald, and when people see its baldness, they imagine that there was never any timber on the mountain. Is this the true nature of the mountain? And is there not a heart of love and righteousness in in man, too? But how can that nature remain beautiful when it is hacked down every day as the woodsman chops down the trees with his ax? To be sure, the nights and days do the healing and there is nourishing air of the early dawn, which tends to keep him sound and normal, but this morning air is thin and is soon destroyed by what he does in the day. With this continuous hacking of the human spirit, the rest and recuperation obtained during the next are not sufficient to maintain its level, then the man degrades himself to a state not far from the beast’s. People see that he acts like beast and imagine that there was never any true character in him. But is this the true nature of man?”
– Mencius, via Lin Yutang.
No, Mencius, it is not! No way, man. (Although I’m not sure all the beasts are in such a bad state.)
I think we all know that getting rest is valuable. However, I often think of it as valuable in the sense that it is good for regaining productivity. Work productivity, artistic productivity, organizational productivity, or physical productivity. You rest, then once again you are able to dig and work toward some goal or other.
Mencius values rest in a different way. Continue reading