Monday, May 25, 2009

101/145 pt. 2 -- Taking the bad with the good

In Day 144, Gates talks about first learning that he would be shipped to Saudi Arabia in anticipation of Desert Storm.  His superior officer told him that "you have to take the good with the bad."  And that's the lesson that he wants to impress upon us.

First, like so many others, he gets this lesson backwards.  You take the bad with the good.  It's the good that you are looking for, and the bad comes along with it.  The other way of putting it just doesn't make alot of sense to me, although I think its the way I hear it more often.  But that's just a quibble.

There's a deeper problem, I think, with this way of thinking.  The meditation opens with this quote from Lao-Tzu:  "The master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings."'  Yes, you could look at this as the master taking the bad with the good.  But I sincerely doubt that Lao-Tzu woul would agree with this idea.  Rather, I think the point is that, while accepting what the moment brings, you aren't looking for either good or bad.  Instead, you are just taking what comes without thinking "This is good and that is bad."  

Learning to take the bad with the good may be a laudatory intermediate step.  But I think the point that Lao-Tzu is getting at is that ultimately the master gets beyond the point of thinking of the moment in terms of good or bad.

Oh, and on thinking about it more closely, I might be wrong about the phrase. Whether the right way to say it is "take the good with the bad"  or "take the bad with the good"  might be a matter of vocal emphasis -- just a different way of parsing the phrase.   


bikramyogachick said...

Also~ what you may think is "bad" the moment it happens might end up being for the best when you look back on it later.

Duffy Pratt said...

Totally agree. It's way too easy for people to confuse bad with things that are merely temporarily unpleasant or uncomfortable. Let's face it, almost everyone thinks, at least at first, that the sensation in the elbows in Locust is really BAD.

Bosco said...

Ditto. Perhaps trite, but true: "No pain, no gain." We do not grow and progress except when we are facing opposition.