When the greatness of the Tao is present,
action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of the Tao is absent,
action comes from the rules
of “kindness and justice”.
If you need rules to be kind and just,
if you act virtuous,
this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.
Thus we see the great hypocrisy.
When kinship falls into discord,
piety and rites of devotion arise.
When the country falls into chaos,
official loyalists will appear;
patriotism is born.
I was in Las Vegas this past week for a work related convention. This is a town full of hypocrisy. Wherever you turn there are people claiming to have your best interest in mind or to be providing you a service, but are really attempting to pull every trick in the book to rip you off. Its all about the almighty dollar.
Most of these people have turned their back on their own hearts and on the virtue that is a natural part of themselves and have focused instead on the pursuit of money. This pursuit is taken at any cost and without regard to any sense of kindness and justice.
This is also a town full of law enforcement, security, video cameras, and laws all created and present to counteract this absence of virtue.
For example on one of the cab rides through town, we had a virtuous cab driver. She asked where we were going like all of the other cab drivers. After we said where we wanted to go, she replied that she would take the back way instead of the highway. Our immediate thought was that she was trying to rip us off by taking the long route.
Instead as she drove she proceeded to inform us of a little known fact by travelers regarding Las Vegas cabbies. She told us of the ruse that most cabbies pull on unsuspecting visitors. They ask if you want to take the highway or the side streets. Most would think that the highway would be the fastest. It is typically not and is in fact often much more expensive.
She told us of a article in the news of a guy that was charged $50 to get from the airport to his hotel because the cabbie took the highway. The trip should have cost in the $20 range. They actually have a law that if a cabbie is caught doing this, they get a $100 fine and the rider gets a free ride.
We tried this on the way back to the airport on the way out of town. When we got in the cab at the hotel, we told him we were going to the airport and I said “take the back way and skip the highway”. He seemed to grunt when I said this, but he obliged. The trip cost about $13. The same trip on the way from the airport to the hotel when we had arrived in Las Vegas had cost us $28 because the cab driver had taken the highway.
This is just one small example in a world where laws, rules and rites of devotion abound in order to counteract the hypocrisy created by people’s own ignorance. This ignorance that I speak of is of their own kindness and sense of justice. They ignore it instead and put their attention on greed, avarice, and a sense of entitlement.
I wonder what a world we would have and what need for these rules there would be if people instead acted from their own heart.