Being There

A good education isn't learning by rote, a good lesson isn't punishment for failing, a good outcome isn't in data and stats.

Healthy boundaries don't guard the gate, but can't be breached. Healthy relationships don't pledge allegiance, but can't be betrayed.

That's because a good influence is always willing to help someone so no one gets left behind, always happy to repeat something so nothing gets forgotten. They call it passing the torch.

So a good mentor is an expert at helping bad students, and bad students are the good person's responsibility. Not respecting the expert, not accepting the responsibility, might seem smart, but they're big mistakes. They call it making the grade.


The five expressions are very flexible. Here are a few variations with an attempt at consistent grammar, literal in Kroll first edition.

  • Walking well / a good road, no ruts to follow. Good conduct, no precedent to emulate.
  • Speaking well, no fault to punish.
  • Good counting, not using tally rod to predict. Good fate, not using lots to predict. Good numerology, not using yarrow stalks to predict. Crafting well, not using counting rod or bamboo strips. Rebuking well, not using counting rod to whip.
  • Blocking / stopping well, no juncture to block up, but can't be opened / started.
  • Thatching well, no ropes to bind, but can't be loosened. Making friends well / a good outcome, no standard to promise, but can't be taken apart.

is an expression that appears in this poem and in Guliang Zhuan, but nowhere else in ctext. I take it to mean, "Happy, willing and able to help." It's as good will.

is the expert and is the expert's subject matter.

Both and appear as compounds in a handful of passages in ctext. is essential and subtle in Kroll, but I've interpreted them both as verb phrases here.

In Heshanggong, is the inside (its sacred heart?) that can be experienced by those who and , but it's inaccessible to those who lust for life, who can sense only its external ephemera.


口 30 + 9
good, virtuous, charitable, kind
xíng háng
行 144 + 0
go; walk; move, travel; circulate; Kangxi radical 144
wú mó
火 86 + 8
negative, no, not; lack, have no
車 159 + 12
wagon ruts, wheel tracks
辵 162 + 6
traces, impressions, footprints
yán yàn
言 149 + 0
words, speech; speak, say; Kangxi radical 149
玉 96 + 9
flaw in gem; fault, defect
言 149 + 15
punish; fault, blame, reprove
shù shǔ
攴 66 + 11
number; several; count; fate
bù fǒu
一 1 + 3
no, not; un-; negative prefix
用 101 + 0
use, employ, apply, operate; use
chóu táo
竹 118 + 14
chip, tally, token; raise money
竹 118 + 6
scheme, plan; to whip; urge
門 169 + 3
shut, close; obstruct, block up
guān wān
門 169 + 11
frontier pass; close; relation
jiàn jiǎn
木 75 + 9
bar of door, bolt of lock
ér néng
而 126 + 0
and; and then; and yet; but; Kangxi radical 126
kě gē
口 30 + 2
may, can, -able; possibly
kāi qiān
門 169 + 4
open; initiate, begin, start
jié jì
糸 120 + 6
knot, tie; join, connect
shéng yìng
糸 120 + 13
rope, string, cord; measure, restrain
yuē yāo
糸 120 + 3
treaty, agreement, covenant
jiě jiè
角 148 + 6
loosen, unfasten, untie; explain; hexagram ䷧
shì tí
日 72 + 5
indeed, yes, right; to be; demonstrative pronoun, this, that
yǐ sì
人 9 + 3
by means of; thereby, therefore; consider as; in order to
耳 128 + 7
holy, sacred; sage
人 9 + 0
man; people; mankind; someone else
巾 50 + 8
common, normal, frequent, regular
jiù jiū
攴 66 + 7
save, rescue, relieve; help, aid
攴 66 + 5
ancient, old; reason, because
木 75 + 8
reject, abandon, discard
牛 93 + 4
thing, substance, creature
言 149 + 9
say, tell; call, name; be called
衣 145 + 16
raid, attack; inherit
míng mèng
日 72 + 4
bright, light, brilliant; clear
老 125 + 4
that which; he who; those who
zhī zhū
丿 4 + 3
marks preceding phrase as modifier of following phrase; it, him her, them; go to
巾 50 + 7
teacher, master, specialist; multitude, troops; hexagram ䷆
zī zì
貝 154 + 6
property; wealth; capital
貝 154 + 5
expensive, costly, valuable
qí jī
八 12 + 6
his, her, its, their; that
心 61 + 9
love, be fond of, like
隹 172 + 9
although, even if
日 72 + 8
wisdom, knowledge, intelligence
dà dài
大 37 + 0
big, great, vast, large, high
mí mì
辵 162 + 6
bewitch, charm, infatuate
yào yāo
襾 146 + 3
necessary, essential; necessity
miào miǎo
女 38 + 4
mysterious, subtle; exquisite
彳 60 + 10
small, prefix micro-, trifling
dào dǎo
辵 162 + 9
path, road, street; method, way
chú zhù
阜 170 + 7
eliminate, remove, except
心 61 + 8
feeling, sentiment, emotion
qù qū
厶 28 + 3
go away, leave, depart
心 61 + 11
lust, desire, passion; appetite