The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

May 7th, 2012 by dimpledbrain

Many people, I suppose, know that modern China was first unified at the end of the warring states period (475 BC to 221 BC) where the state of Qin annihilated the other six major states. Ying Zheng proclaimed himself Qin Shi Huang and founded the Qin dynasty and thus laid the long road to what China is today.

But the Qin foundation is impossible without one very important person, i.e. (not me) but Lord Shang Yang (390 BC to 338 BC). It was Lord Shang Yang’s legalistic reform that set Qin on an irreversible growth path. By the way, this philosophy (i.e. legalism) was contesting with Confucius’ Doctrine of the Mean (i.e. everything in moderation) at that point in time, and with the benefit of hindsight, we know that it’s Confucius’s doctrine that won and became the backbone to Chinese philosophy.

But the struggle of the two schools of thought is often overlooked.

So is the case when one sees the might of the Qin’s soldiers.

But it’s the selfsame well from which poverty and famine had struck mercilessly that this strength grew from.

When we see a great sportsperson swings a golf stick, returns a powerful serve or scores a goal from a kick mid field, we are filled with admiration and perhaps envy as to why we can’t be that person. But we forgot underlying that masterful piece of action are the countless hours sacrificed in the drill and the blood, sweat and tears that almost break the camel’s back.

To quote Donald L. Cassidy, “the first level observer sees the results and either enjoys them or does not. The second level observer appreciates why success or failure occured.” 

So two important lessons that we can observe here:

  1. Behind any seemingly effortless but masterful piece of action lies an unimaginable amount of time and effort spent.
  2. When we are struggling mastering our chosen craft, remember, mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

My dad always tells me to see beyond the cool shade that a large tree provides. Behind that very majestic nature lies the fullness of a struggle.

Or the rich man that just made millions from a smile and a handshake, thinking I too can simply do that. Is Warren Buffet’s famous handshake deal a mere handshake? Or is there more than meets the eye?

The striking difference between the animal kingdom and the world of man is that the former is blessed with an inborn mastery (i.e. inherited) vs the latter’s learned traits (i.e. requires effort). To me, talent is merely a tendency towards a particular theme, not an inherited skill.

The fourth hexagram of I Ching depicts this succinctly. Master Alfred Huang translates it as Childhood (Meng). The upper trigram represents ‘mountain’ and the lower trigram represents ‘stream’.

Keeping still is the attribute of the upper trigram; that of the lower is the abyss, danger. Stopping in perplexity on the brink of a dangerous abyss is a symbol of the folly of youth. However, the two trigrams also show the way of overcoming the follies of youth. Water is something that of necessity flows on. When the spring gushes forth, it does not know at first where it will go. But its steady flow fills up the deep place blocking its progress, and success is attained. (explanation courtesy of the Internet)




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