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The Wisdom of China

Subject: The Wisdom of China


This text was scanned by John Delacour ( from a boo
k that is long out of print.  No

record of the title "The Wisdom of China" is kept by the successors to the
 original publisher and I presume that the

text is in the public domain and publish it in good faith.

This is the only translation of Zhuang Zi I have come across and there is
certainly room for a less wordy and

ponderous translation of what is in the original Chinese extremely simple
and concise, but the meaning seems not to

be too distorted by the translaters and I publish it for what it is worth.

The Chinese text is available in 8-bit GB with some errors and the GB code
 is missing many of the characters

necessary to the text.  Big5 has most of the characters and I will shortly
 make available a Big5 version unless

someone with more time does it first.  Once Unicode is properly establishe
d it should be possible to produce a

version without any missing characters.

I have not had time to check the text very thoroughly for typographical er
rors and would welcome corrections.

Chuangtse, Mystic and Humorist


        Jesus was followed by St. Paul, Socrates by Plato, Confucius by Me
ncius, and Laotse by Chuangtse.  In all four

cases, the first was the real teacher and either wrote no books or wrote v
ery little, and the second began to develop

the doctrines and wrote long and profound discourses.  Chuangtse, who died
 about 275 B.C., was separated from

Laotse's death by not quite two hundred years, and was strictly a contempo
rary of Mencius.  Yet the most curious

thing is that although both these writers mentioned the other philosophers
 of the time, neither was mentioned by the

other in his works.

        On the whole, Chuangtse must be considered the greatest prose writ
er of the Chou Dynasty, as Ch'u: Yu:an must

be considered the greatest poet.  His claim to this position rests both up
on the brilliance of his style and the depth of

his thought.  That explains the fact that although he was probably the gre
atest slanderer of Confucius, and with

Motse, the greatest antagonist of Confucian ideas, no Confucian scholar ha
s not openly or secretly admired him.

People who would not openly agree with his ideas would nevertheless read h
im as literature.

        Nor can it be said truly that a pure-blooded Chinese could ever qu
ite disagree with Chuangtse's ideas.  Taoism is

not a school of thought in China, it is a deep, fundamental trait of Chine
se thinking, and of the Chinese attitude

toward life and toward society.  It has depth, while Confucianism has only
 a practical sense of proportions; it

enriches Chinese poetry and imagination in an immeasurable manner, and it
gives a philosophic sanction to whatever

is in the idle, freedom-loving, poetic, vagabond Chinese soul.  It provide
s the only safe, romantic release from the

severe Confucian classic restraint, and humanizes the very humanists thems
elves; therefore when a Chinese

succeeds, he is always a Confucianist, and when he fails, he is always a T
aoist.  As more people fail than succeed in

this world, and as all who succeed know that they succeed but in a lame an
d halting manner when they examine

themselves in the dark hours of the night, I believe Taoist ideas are more
 often at work than Confucianism.  Even a

Confucianist succeeds only when he knows he never really succeeds, that is
, by following Taoist wisdom.  Tseng

Kuofan, the great Confucian general who suppressed the Taiping Rebellion,
had failed in his early campaign and

began to succeed only one morning when he realized with true Taoist humili
ty that he was "no good," and gave

power to his assistant generals.

        Chuangtse is therefore important as the first one who fully develo
ped the Taoistic thesis of the rhythm of life,

contained in the epigrams of Laotse.  Unlike other Chinese philosophers pr
incipally occupied with practical

questions of government and personal morality, he gives the only metaphysi
cs existing in Chinese literature before

the coming of Buddhism.  I am sure his mysticism will charm some readers a
nd repel others.  Certain traits in it, like

weeding out the idea of the ego and quiet contemplation and "seeing the So
litary" explain how these native Chinese

ideas were back of the development of the Ch'an (Japanese Zen) Buddhism.
Any branch of human knowledge, even

the study of the rocks of the earth and the cosmic rays of heaven, strikes
 mysticism when is reaches any depth at all,

and it seems Chinese Taoism skipped the scientific study of nature to reac
h the same intuitive conclusion by insight

alone.  Therefore it is not surprising that Albert Einstein and Chuangtse
agree, as agree they must, on the relativity of

all standards.  The only difference is that Einstein takes on the more dif
ficult and, to a Chinese, more stupid work of

mathematical proof, while Chuangtse furnishes the philosophic import of th
is theory of relativity, which must be

sooner or later developed by Western philosophers in the next decades.

        A word must be added about Chuangtse's attitude toward Confucius.
 It will be evident to any reader that he was

one of the greatest romanticizers of history, and that any of the anecdote
s he tells about Confucius, or Laotse or the

Yellow Emperor must be accepted on a par with those anecdotes he tells abo
ut the conversation of General Clouds

and Great Nebulous, or between the Spirit of the River and the Spirit of t
he Ocean. It must be also plainly

understood that he was a humorist with a wild and rather luxuriant fantasy
, with an American love for exaggeration

and for the big.  One should therefore read him as one would a humorist wr
iter knowing that he is frivolous when he

is profound and profound when he is frivolous.

        The extant text of Chuangtse consists of thirty-three chapters, al
l of them a mixture of philosophic disquisition

and anecdotes or parables.  The chapters containing the most virulent atta
cks on Confucianism (not included here)

have been considered forgery, and a few Chinese "textual critics" have eve
n considered all of them forgery except

the first seven chapters.  This is easy to understand because it is the mo
dern Chinese fashion to talk of forgery.  One

can rest assured that these "textual critics" are unscientific because ver
y little of it is philological criticism, but

consists of opinions as to style and whether Chuangtse had or had not enou
gh culture to attack Confucius only in a

mild and polished manner.  (See samples of this type of "criticism" in my
long introduction to The Book of History.)

Only one or two anachronisms are pointed out, which could be due to later
interpolations and the rest is a subjective

assertion of opinion.  Even the evaluations of style are faulty, and at le
ast a distinction should be made between

interpolations and wholesale forgery. Some of the best pieces of Chuangtse
 are decidedly outside the first seven

chapters, and it has not even occurred to the critics to provide an answer
 as to who else could have written them.

There is no reason to be sure that even the most eloquent exposition of th
e thieves' philosophy, regarded by most as

forgery, was not the work of Chuangtse, who had so little to do with the "
gentlemen."  On the other hand, I believe

various anecdotes have been freely added by later generations into the ext
remely loose structure of the chapters.

        I have chosen here eleven chapters, including all but one of the f
irst best seven chapters.  With one minor

exception, these chapters are translated complete.  The philosophically mo
st important are the chapters on "Levelling

All Things" and "Autumn Floods."  The chapters, "Joined Toes," "Horses' Ho
oves," "Opening Trunks" and

"Tolerance" belong in one group with the main theme of protest against civ
ilization.  The most eloquent protest is

contained in "Opening Trunks," while the most characteristically Taoistic
is the chapter on "Tolerance."  The most

mystic and deeply religious piece is "The Great Supreme."  The most beauti
fully written is "Autumn Floods." The

queerest is the chapter on "Deformities" (a typically "romanticist" theme)
.  The most delightful is probably "Horses'

Hooves," and the most fantastic is the first chapter, "A Happy Excursion."
  Some of Chuangtse's parables in the

other chapters will be found under "Parables of Ancient Philosophers" else
where in this volume.

        I have based my translation on that of Herbert A.  Giles.  It soon
 became apparent in my work that Giles was free

in his translation where exactness was easy and possible, and that he had
a glib, colloquial style which might be

considered a blemish.  The result is that hardly a line has been left unto
uched, and I have had to make my own

translation, taking advantage of whatever is good in his English rendering
.  But still I owe a great debt to my

predecessor, and he has notably succeeded in this difficult task in many p
assages.  Where his rendering is good, I

have not chosen to be different.  In this sense, the translation may be re
garded as my own.

        It should be noted that throughout the text, Giles translates "Hea
ven" as "God" where it means God.  On the

other hand, the term "Creator" is an exact rendering of chao-wu, or "he wh
o creates things."  I will not go into details

of translation of

        other philosophic terms here.





        Translated by Lin Yutang




        In the northern ocean there is a fish, called the k'un, I do not k
now how many thousand li in size.  This k'un

changes into a bird, called the p'eng.  Its back is I do not know how many
 thousand li in breadth.  When it is moved,

it flies, its wings obscuring the sky like clouds.

        When on a voyage, this bird prepares to start for the Southern Oce
an, the Celestial Lake.  And in the Records of

Marvels we read that when the p'eng flies southwards, the water is smitten
 for a space of three thousand li around,

while the bird itself mounts upon a great wind to a height of ninety thous
and li, for a flight of six months' duration.

        There mounting aloft, the bird saw the moving white mists of sprin
g, the dust-clouds, and the living things

blowing their breaths among them.  It wondered whether the blue of the sky
 was its real color, or only the result of

distance without end, and saw that the things on earth appeared the same t
o it.

        If there is not sufficient depth, water will not float large ships
.  Upset a cupful into a hole in the yard, and a

mustard-seed will be your boat.  Try to float the cup, and it will be grou
nded, due to the disproportion between water

and vessel.

        So with air.  If there is not sufficient a depth, it cannot suppor
t large wings.  And for this bird, a depth of ninety

thousand li is necessary to bear it up.  Then, gliding upon the wind, with
 nothing save the clear sky above, and no

obstacles in the way, it starts upon its journey to the south.

        A cicada and a young dove laughed, saying, "Now, when I fly with a
ll my might, 'tis as much as I can do to get

from tree to tree. And sometimes I do not reach, but fall to the ground mi
dway.  What then can be the use of going

up ninety thousand li to start for the south?"

        He who goes to the countryside taking three meals with him comes b
ack with his stomach as full as when he

started.  But he who travels a hundred li must take ground rice enough for
 an overnight stay.  And he who travels a

thousand li must supply himself with provisions for three months.  Those t
wo little creatures, what should they


        Small knowledge has not the compass of great knowledge any more th
an a short year has the length of a long

year.  How can we tell that this is so?  The fungus plant of a morning kno
ws not the alternation of day and night.

The cicada knows not the alternation of spring and autumn.  Theirs are sho
rt years.  But in the south of Ch'u there is

a mingling (tree) whose spring and autumn are each of five hundred years'
duration.  And in former days there was a

large tree which had a spring and autumn each of eight thousand years.  Ye
t, P'eng Tsu <<1>>  is known for reaching

a great age and is still, alas! an object of envy to all!

        It was on this very subject that the Emperor T'ang <<2>> spoke to
Chi, as follows: "At the north of Ch'iungta,

there is a Dark Sea, the Celestial Lake.  In it there is a fish several th
ousand li in breadth, and I know not how many

in length.  It is called the k'un.  There is also a bird, called the p'eng
, with a back like Mount T'ai, and wings like

clouds across the sky.  It soars up upon a whirlwind to a height of ninety
 thousand li, far above the region of the

clouds, with only the clear sky above it.  And then it directs its flight
towards the Southern Ocean.

        "And a lake sparrow laughed, and said: Pray, what may that creatur
e be going to do?  I rise but a few yards in the

air and settle down again, after flying around among the reeds.  That is a
s much as any one would want to fly.  Now,

wherever can this creature be going to?"  Such, indeed, is the difference
between small and great.

        Take, for instance, a man who creditably fills some small office,
or whose influence spreads over a village, or

whose character pleases a certain prince.  His opinion of himself will be
much the same as that lake sparrow's.  The

philosopher Yung of Sung would laugh at such a one.  If the whole world fl
attered him, he would not be affected

thereby, nor if the whole world blamed him would he be dissuaded from what
 he was doing.  For Yung can

distinguish between essence and superficialities, and understand what is t
rue honor and shame.  Such men are rare in

their generation.  But even he has not established himself.

        Now Liehtse << <<3>> >>  could ride upon the wind.  Sailing happil
y in the cool breeze, he would go on for

fifteen days before his return.  Among mortals who attain happiness, such
a man is rare.  Yet although Liehtse could

dispense with walking, he would still have to depend upon something. <<4>>

        As for one who is charioted upon the eternal fitness of Heaven and
 Earth, driving before him the changing

elements as his team to roam through the realms of the Infinite, upon what
, then, would such a one have need to

depend?  Thus it is said, "The perfect man ignores self; the divine man ig
nores achievement; the true Sage ignores


        The Emperor Yao <<5>> wished to abdicate in favor of Hsu: Yu, sayi
ng, "If, when the sun and moon are

shining, the torch is still lighted, would it be not difficult for the lat
ter to shine?  If, when the rain has fallen, one

should still continue to water the fields, would this not be a waste of la
bor?  Now if you would assume the reins of

government, the empire would be well governed, and yet I am filling this o
ffice.  I am conscious of my own

deficiencies, and I beg to offer you the Empire."

        " You are ruling the Empire, and the Empire is already well ruled,
" replied Hsu: Yu.  "Why should I take your

place? Should I do this for the sake of a name?  A name is but the shadow
of reality, and should I trouble myself

about the shadow?  The tit, building its nest in the mighty forest, occupi
es but a single twig.  The beaver slakes its

thirst from the river, but drinks enough only to fill its belly. I would r
ather go back: I have no use for the empire! If

the cook is unable to prepare the funeral sacrifices, the representative o
f the worshipped spirit and the officer of

prayer may not step over the wines and meats and do it for him."

        Chien Wu said to Lien Shu, "I heard Chieh Yu: talk on high and fin
e subjects endlessly.  I was greatly startled at

what he said, for his words seemed interminable as the Milky Way, but they
 are quite detached from our common

human experience."

        "What was it?" asked Lien Shu.

        "He declared," replied Chien Wu, "that on the Miao-ku-yi mountain
there lives a divine one, whose skin is white

like ice or snow, whose grace and elegance are like those of a virgin, who
 eats no grain, but lives on air and dew, and

who, riding on clouds with flying dragons for his team, roams beyond the l
imit's of the mortal regions.  When his

spirit gravitates, he can ward off corruption from all things, and bring g
ood crops.  That is why I call it nonsense, and

do not believe it."

        "Well," answered Lien Shu, "you don't ask a blind man's opinion of
 beautiful designs, nor do you invite a deaf

man to a concert.  And blindness and deafness are not physical only. There
 is blindness and deafness of the mind.

His words are like the unspoiled virgin.  The good influence of such a man
 with such a character fills all creation.  Yet

because a paltry generation cries for reform, you would have him busy hims
elf about the details of an empire!

        "Objective existences cannot harm.  In a flood which reached the s
ky, he would not be drowned.  In a drought,

though metals ran liquid and mountains were scorched up, he would not be h
ot.  Out of his very dust and siftings

you might fashion two such men as Yao and Shun <<6>> .  And you would have
 him occupy himself with


        A man of the Sung State carried some ceremonial caps to the Yu:eh
tribes for sale.  But the men of Yu:eh used to

cut off their hair and paint their bodies, so that they had no use for suc
h things.

        The Emperor Yao ruled all under heaven and governed the affairs of
 the entire country.  After he paid a visit to

the four sages of the Miao-ku-yi Mountain, he felt on his return to his ca
pital at Fenyang that the empire existed for

him no more.

        Hueitse <<7>>  said to Chuangtse, "The Prince of Wei gave me a see
d of a large-sized kind of gourd.  I planted it,

and it bore a fruit as big as a five bushel measure.  Now had I used this
for holding liquids, it would have been too

heavy to lift; and had I cut it in half for ladles, the ladles would have
been too flat for such purpose.  Certainly it was

a huge thing, but I had no use for it and so broke it up."

        "It was rather you did not know how to use large things," replied
Chuangtse.  "There was a man of Sung who had

a recipe for salve for chapped hands, his family having been silk-washers
for generations.  A stranger who had heard

of it came and offered him a hundred ounces of silver for this recipe; whe
reupon he called together his clansmen and

said, 'We have never made much money by silk-washing.  Now, we can sell th
e recipe for a hundred ounces in a

single day.  Let the stranger have it.'

        "The stranger got the recipe, and went and had an interview with t
he Prince of Wu.  The Yu:eh State was in

trouble, and the Prince of Wu sent a general to fight a naval battle with
Yu:eh at the beginning of winter.  The latter

was totally defeated, and the stranger was rewarded with a piece of the Ki
ng's territory.  Thus, while the efficacy of

the salve to cure chapped hands was in both cases the same, its applicatio
ns were different.  Here, it secured a title;

there, the people remained silk-washers.

        "Now as to your five-bushel gourd, why did you not make a float of
 it, and float about over river and lake?  And

you complain of its being too flat for holding things! I fear your mind is
 stuffy inside."

        Hueitse said to Chuangtse, "I have a large tree, called the ailant
hus.  Its trunk is so irregular and knotty that it

cannot be measured out for planks; while its branches are so twisted that
they cannot be cut out into discs or

squares.  It stands by the roadside, but no carpenter will look at it.  Yo
ur words are like that tree --big and useless, of

no concern to the world."

        "Have you never seen a wild cat," rejoined Chuangtse, "crouching d
own in wait for its prey?  Right and left and

high and low, it springs about, until it gets caught in a trap or dies in
a snare.  On the other hand, there is the yak with

its great huge body.  It is big enough in all conscience, but it cannot ca
tch mice.  Now if you have a big tree and are

at a loss what to do with it, why not plant it in the Village of Nowhere,
in the great wilds, where you might loiter idly

by its side, and lie down in blissful repose beneath its shade?  There it
would be safe from the axe and from all other

injury.  For being of no use to others, what could worry its mind?"




        Tsech'i of Nankuo sat leaning on a low table.  Gazing up to heaven
, he sighed and looked as though he had lost

his mind.

        Yench'eng Tseyu, who was standing by him, exclaimed, "What are you
 thinking about that your body should

become thus like dead wood, your mind like burnt-out cinders?  Surely the
man now leaning on the table is not he

who was here just now."

        " My friend," replied Tsech'i, "your question is apposite. Today I
 have lost my Self....  Do you understand?  ...

Perhaps you only know the music of man, and not that of Earth.  Or even if
 you have heard the music of Earth,

perhaps you have not heard the music of Heaven."

        "Pray explain," said Tseyu.

        "The breath of the universe," continued Tsech'i, "is called wind.
 At times, it is inactive.  But when active, all

crevices resound to its blast.  Have you never listened to its deafening r

        "Caves and dells of hill and forest, hollows in huge trees of many
 a span in girth --some are like nostrils, and

some like mouths, and others like ears, beam-sockets, goblets, mortars, or
 like pools and puddles.  And the wind

goes rushing through them, like swirling torrents or singing arrows, bello
wing, sousing, trilling, wailing, roaring,

purling, whistling in front and echoing behind, now soft with the cool blo
w, now shrill with the whirlwind, until the

tempest is past and silence reigns supreme.  Have you never witnessed how
the trees and objects shake and quake,

and twist and twirl?"

        "Well, then," enquired Tseyu, "since the music of Earth consists o
f hollows and apertures, and the music of man

of pipes and flutes, of what consists the music of Heaven?"

        "The effect of the wind upon these various apertures," replied Tse
ch'i, "is not uniform, but the sounds are

produced according to their individual capacities.  Who is it that agitate
s their breasts?

        "Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious.  Great spe
ech is impassioned, small speech


        "For whether the soul is locked in sleep or whether in waking hour
s the body moves, we are striving and

struggling with the immediate circumstances.  Some are easy-going and leis
urely, some are deep and cunning, and

some are secretive.  Now we are frightened over petty fears, now dishearte
ned and dismayed over some great terror.

Now the mind flies forth like an arrow from a cross-bow, to be the arbiter
 of right and wrong.  Now it stays behind as

if sworn to an oath, to hold on to what it has secured.  Then, as under au
tumn and winter's blight, comes gradual

decay, and submerged in its own occupations, it keeps on running its cours
e, never to return.  Finally, worn out and

imprisoned, it is choked up like an old drain, and the failing mind shall
not see light again <<8>> .

        "Joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, worries and regrets, indecis
ion and fears, come upon us by turns, with

everchanging moods, like music from the hollows, or like mushrooms from da
mp.  Day and night they alternate

within us, but we cannot tell whence they spring.  Alas! Alas! Could we fo
r a moment lay our finger upon their very


        "But for these emotions I should not be. Yet but for me, there wou
ld be no one to feel them.  So far we can go;

but we do not know by whose order they come into play.  It would seem ther
e was a soul; <<9>>   but the clue to its

existence is wanting.  That it functions is credible enough, though we can
not see its form.  Perhaps it has inner reality

without outward form.

        "Take the human body with all its hundred bones, nine external cav
ities and six internal organs, all complete.

Which part of it should I love best?  Do you not cherish all equally, or h
ave you a preference?  Do these organs serve

as servants of someone else?  Since servants cannot govern themselves, do
they serve as master and servants by

turn?  Surely there is some soul which controls them all.

        "But whether or not we ascertain what is the true nature of this s
oul, it matters but little to the soul itself.  For

once coming into this material shape, it runs its course until it is exhau
sted.  To be harassed by the wear and tear of

life, and to be driven along without possibility of arresting one's course
, --is not this pitiful indeed?  To labor without

ceasing all life, and then, without living to enjoy the fruit, worn out wi
th labor, to depart, one knows not whither, --is

not this a just cause for grief?"

        "Men say there is no death --to what avail?  The body decomposes,
and the mind goes with it.  Is this not a great

cause for sorrow?  Can the world be so dull as not to see this?  Or is it
I alone who am dull, and others not so?"

        Now if we are to be guided by our prejudices, who shall be without
 a guide?  What need to make comparisons of

right and wrong with others?  And if one is to follow one's own judgments
according to his prejudices, even the

fools have them! But to form judgments of right and wrong without first ha
ving a mind at all is like saying, "I left for

Yu:eh today, and got there yesterday."  Or, it is like assuming something
which does not exist to exist.  The (illusions

of) assuming something which does not exist to exist could not be fathomed
 even by the divine Yu:; how much less

could we?

        For speech is not mere blowing of breath.  It is intended to say s
ome thing, only what it is intended to say cannot

yet be determined.  Is there speech indeed, or is there not?  Can we, or c
an we not, distinguish it from the chirping of

young birds?

        How can Tao be obscured so that there should be a distinction of t
rue and false?  How can speech be so

obscured that there should be a distinction of right and wrong? <<10>>   W
here can you go and find Tao not to

exist?  Where can you go and find that words cannot be proved?  Tao is obs
cured by our inadequate understanding,

and words are obscured by flowery expressions.  Hence the affirmations and
 denials of the Confucian and Motsean

<<11>>  schools, each denying what the other affirms and affirming what th
e other denies.  Each denying what the

other affirms and affirming what the other denies brings us only into conf

           There is nothing which is not this; there is nothing which is n
ot that.  What cannot be seen by what (the other

person) can be known by myself.  Hence I say, this emanates from that; tha
t also derives from this.  This is the

theory of the interdependence of this and that (relativity of standards).

        Nevertheless, life arises from death, and vice versa.  Possibility
 arises from impossibility, and vice versa.

Affirmation is based upon denial, and vice versa.  Which being the case, t
he true sage rejects all distinctions and

takes his refuge in Heaven (Nature).  For one may base it on this, yet thi
s is also that and that is also this.  This also

has its 'right' and 'wrong', and that also has its 'right' and 'wrong.' Do
es then the distinction between this and that

really exist or not?  When this (subjective) and that (objective) are both
 without their correlates, that is the very 'Axis

of Tao.' And when that Axis passes through the center at which all Infinit
ies converge, affirmations and denials alike

blend into the infinite One.  Hence it is said that there is nothing like
using the Light.

        To take a finger in illustration of a finger not being a finger is
 not so good as to take something which is not a

finger to illustrate that a finger is not a finger.  To take a horse in il
lustration of a horse not being a horse is not so

good as to take something which is not a horse to illustrate that a horse
is not a horse <<12>> .  So with the universe

which is but a finger, but a horse. The possible is possible: the impossib
le is impossible.  Tao operates, and the given

results follow; things receive names and are said to be what they are.  Wh
y are they so?  They are said to be so! Why

are they not so?  They are said to be not so! Things are so by themselves
and have possibilities by themselves.  There

is nothing which is not so and there is nothing which may not become so.

        Therefore take, for instance, a twig and a pillar, or the ugly per
son and the great beauty, and all the strange and

monstrous transformations.  These are all levelled together by Tao.  Divis
ion is the same as creation; creation is the

same as destruction.  There is no such thing as creation or destruction, f
or these conditions are again levelled together

into One.

        Only the truly intelligent understand this principle of the levell
ing of all things into One.  They discard the

distinctions and take refuge in the common and ordinary things.  The commo
n and ordinary things serve certain

functions and therefore retain the wholeness of nature.  From this wholene
ss, one comprehends, and from

comprehension, one to the Tao.  There it stops.  To stop without knowing h
ow it stops --this is Tao.

        But to wear out one's intellect in an obstinate adherence to the i
ndividuality of things, not recognizing the fact

that all things are One, --that is called  "Three in the Morning."  What i
s  "Three in the Morning?" A keeper of

monkeys said with regard to their rations of nuts that each monkey was to
have three in the morning and four at

night.  At this the monkeys were very angry.  Then the keeper said they mi
ght have four in the morning and three at

night, with which arrangement they were all well pleased.  The actual numb
er of nuts remained the same, but there

was a difference owing to (subjective evaluations of) likes and dislikes.
 It also derives from this (principle of

subjectivity).  Wherefore the true Sage brings all the contraries together
 and rests in the natural Balance of Heaven.

This is called (the principle of following) two courses (at once).

        The knowledge of the men of old had a limit.  When was the limit?
It extended back to a period when matter did

not exist.  That was the extreme point to which their knowledge reached.
The second period was that of matter, but

of matter unconditioned (undefined).  The third epoch saw matter condition
ed (defined), but judgments of true and

false were still unknown.  When these appeared, Tao began to decline.  And
 with the decline of Tao, individual bias

(subjectivity) arose.

        Besides, did Tao really rise and decline? <<13>>  In the world of
(apparent) rise and decline, the famous

musician Chao Wen did play the string instrument; but in respect to the wo
rld without rise and decline, Chao Wen

did not play the string instrument.  When Chao Wen stopped playing the str
ing instrument, Shih K'uang (the music

master) laid down his drum-stick (for keeping time), and Hueitse (the soph
ist) stopped arguing, they all understood

the approach of Tao.  These people are the best in their arts, and therefo
re known to posterity.  They each loved his

art, and wanted to excel in his own line. And because they loved their art
s, they wanted to make them known to

others.  But they were trying to teach what (in its nature) could not be k
nown. Consequently Hueitse ended in the

obscure discussions of the "hard" and "white"; and Chao Wen's son tried to
 learn to play the stringed instrument all

his life and failed.  If this may be called success, then I, too, have suc
ceeded.  But if neither of them could be said to

have succeeded, then neither I nor others have succeeded.  Therefore the t
rue Sage discards the light that dazzles and

takes refuge in the common and ordinary.  Through this comes understanding

        Suppose here is a statement.  We do not know whether it belongs to
 one category or another.  But if we put the

different categories in one, then the differences of category cease to exi
st. However, I must explain.  If there was a

beginning, then there was a time before that beginning, and a time before
the time which was before the time of that

beginning.  If there is existence, there must have been non-existence.  An
d if there was a time when nothing existed,

then there must have been a time when even nothing did not exist.  All of
a sudden, nothing came into existence.

Could one then really say whether it belongs to the category of existence
or of non-existence?  Even the very words

I have just now uttered, --I cannot say whether they say something or not.

        There is nothing under the canopy of heaven greater than the tip o
f a bird's down in autumn, while the T'ai

Mountain is small.  Neither is there any longer life than that of a child
cut off in infancy, while P'eng Tsu himself died

young.  The universe and I came into being together; I and everything ther
ein are One.

        If then all things are One, what room is there for speech?  On the
 other hand, since I can say the word 'one' how

can speech not exist?  If it does exist, we have One and speech --two; and
 two and one --three <<14>>  from which

point onwards even the best mathematicians will fail to reach (the ultimat
e); how much more then should ordinary

people fail?

        Hence, if from nothing you can proceed to something, and subsequen
tly reach there, it follows that it would be

still easier if you were to start from something.  Since you cannot procee
d, stop here.  Now Tao by its very nature

can never be defined.  Speech by its very nature cannot express the absolu
te.  Hence arise the distinctions.  Such

distinctions are: "right" and "left," "relationship" and "duty," "division
" and "discrimination, "emulation and

contention.  These are called the Eight Predicables.

        Beyond the limits of the external world, the Sage knows that it ex
ists, but does not talk about it.  Within the limits

of the external world, the Sage talks but does not make comments.  With re
gard to the wisdom of the ancients, as

embodied in the canon of Spring and Autumn, the Sage comments, but does no
t expound.  And thus, among

distinctions made, there are distinctions that cannot be made; among thing
s expounded, there are things that cannot

be expounded.

        How can that be?  it is asked.  The true Sage keeps his knowledge
within him, while men in general set forth

theirs in argument, in order to convince each other.  And therefore it is
said that one who argues does so because he

cannot see certain points.

        Now perfect Tao cannot be given a name.  A perfect argument does n
ot employ words. Perfect kindness does not

concern itself with (individual acts of) kindness <<15>> .  Perfect integr
ity is not critical of others <<16>>  Perfect

courage does not push itself forward.

        For the Tao which is manifest is not Tao.  Speech which argues fal
ls short of its aim.  Kindness which has fixed

objects loses its scope.  Integrity which is obvious is not believed in.
Courage which pushes itself forward never

accomplishes anything.  These five are, as it were, round (mellow) with a
strong bias towards squareness

(sharpness).  Therefore that knowledge which stops at what it does not kno
w, is the highest knowledge.

        Who knows the argument which can be argued without words, and the
Tao which does not declare itself as Tao?

He who knows this may be said to enter the realm of the spirit <<17>> .  T
o be poured into without becoming full,

and pour out without becoming empty, without knowing how this is brought a
bout, --this is the art of  "Concealing

the Light."

        Of old, the Emperor Yao said to Shun, "I would smite the Tsungs, a
nd the Kueis, and the Hsu:-aos.  Since I have

been on the throne, this has ever been on my mind.  What do you think?"

        "These three States," replied Shun, "lie in wild undeveloped regio
ns.  Why can you not shake off this idea?  Once

upon a time, ten suns came out together, and all things were illuminated t
hereby.  How much greater should be the

power of virtue which excels the suns?"

        Yeh Ch'u:eh asked Wang Yi, saying, "Do you know for certain that a
ll things are the same?"

        "How can I know?" answered Wang Yi.  "Do you know what you do not

        "How can I know!" replied Yeh Ch'u:eh.  "But then does nobody know

        "How can I know?" said Wang Yi.  "Nevertheless, I will try to tell
 you.  How can it be known that what I call

knowing is not really not knowing and that what I call not knowing is not
really knowing?  Now I would ask you

this, If a man sleeps in a damp place, he gets lumbago and dies.  But how
about an eel? And living up in a tree is

precarious and trying to the nerves.  But how about monkeys?  Of the man,
the eel, and the monkey, whose habitat

is the right one, absolutely?  Human beings feed on flesh, deer on grass,
centipedes on little snakes, owls and crows

on mice.  Of these four, whose is the right taste, absolutely?  Monkey mat
es with the dog-headed female ape, the

buck with the doe, eels consort with fishes, while men admire Mao Ch'iang
and Li Chi, at the sight of whom fishes

plunge deep down in the water, birds soar high in the air, and deer hurry
away.  Yet who shall say which is the

correct standard of beauty?  In my opinion, the doctrines of humanity and
justice and the paths of right and wrong

are so confused that it is impossible to know their contentions."

        "If you then," asked Yeh Ch'u:eh, "do not know what is good and ba
d, is the Perfect Man equally without this


            "The Perfect Man," answered Wang Yi, "is a spiritual being.  W
ere the ocean itself scorched up, he would not

feel hot. Were the great rivers frozen hard, he would not feel cold.  Were
 the mountains to be cleft by thunder, and

the great deep to be thrown up by storm, he would not tremble with fear.
Thus, he would mount upon the clouds of

heaven, and driving the sun and the moon before him, pass beyond the limit
s of this mundane existence.  Death and

life have no more victory over him.  How much less should he concern himse
lf with the distinctions of profit and


        Chu: Ch'iao addressed Ch'ang Wutse as follows: "I heard Confucius
say, 'The true Sage pays no heed to worldly

affairs.  He neither seeks gain nor avoids injury.  He asks nothing at the
 hands of man and does not adhere to rigid

rules of conduct.  Sometimes he says something without speaking and someti
mes he speaks without saying

anything.  And so he roams beyond the limits of this mundane world.  'Thes
e,' commented Confucius, 'are futile

fantasies.'  But to me they are the embodiment of the most wonderful Tao.
 What is your opinion?"

        "These are things that perplexed even the Yellow Emperor," replied
 Ch'ang Wutse.  "How should Confucius

know?  You are going too far ahead.  When you see a hen's egg, you already
 expect to hear a cock crow.  When you

see a sling, you are already expected to have broiled pigeon.  I will say
a few words to you at random, and do you

listen at random.

        "How does the Sage seat himself by the sun and moon, and hold the
universe in his grasp?  He blends everything

into one harmonious whole, rejecting the confusion of this and that.  Rank
 and precedence, which the vulgar

sedulously cultivate, the Sage stolidly ignores, amalgamating the disparit
ies of ten thousand years into one pure

mold.  The universe itself, too, conserves and blends all in the same mann

        "How do I know that love of life is not a delusion after all? How
do I know but that he who dreads death is not as

a child who has lost his way and does not know his way home?

        "The Lady Li Chi was the daughter of the frontier officer of Ai.
When the Duke of Chin first got her, she wept

until the bosom of her dress was drenched with tears.  But when she came t
o the royal residence, shared with the

Duke his luxurious couch, and ate rich food, she repented of having wept.
 How then do I know but that the dead

may repent of having previously clung to life?

        "Those who dream of the banquet, wake to lamentation and sorrow.
Those who dream of lamentation and

sorrow wake to join the hunt.  While they dream, they do not know that the
y are dreaming.  Some will even interpret

the very dream they are dreaming; and only when they awake do they know it
 was a dream.  By and by comes the

great awakening, and then we find out that this life is really a great dre
am.  Fools think they are awake now, and

flatter themselves they know --this one is a prince, and that one is a she
pherd.  What narrowness of mind! Confucius

and you are both dreams; and I who say you are dreams --I am but a dream m
yself.  This is a paradox.  Tomorrow a

Sage may arise to explain it; but that tomorrow will not be until ten thou
sand generations have gone by.  Yet you

may meet him around the corner.

        "Granting that you and I argue.  If you get the better of me, and
not I of you, are you necessarily right and I

wrong?  Or if I get the better of you and not you of me, am I necessarily
right and you wrong?  Or are we both partly

right and partly wrong?  Or are we both wholly right and wholly wrong?  Yo
u and I cannot know this, and

consequently we all live in darkness.

        "Whom shall I ask as arbiter between us?  If I ask someone who tak
es your view, he will side with you.  How can

such a one arbitrate between us?  If I ask someone who takes my view, he w
ill side with me.  How can such a one

arbitrate between us?  If I ask someone who differs from both of us, he wi
ll be equally unable to decide between us,

since he differs from both of us.  And if I ask someone who agrees with bo
th of us, he will be equally unable to

decide between us, since he agrees with both of us.  Since then you and I
and other men cannot decide, how can we

depend upon another?  The words of arguments are all relative; if we wish
to reach the absolute, we must harmonize

them by means of the unity of God, and follow their natural evolution, so
that we may complete our allotted span of


        "But what is it to harmonize them by means of the unity of God?  I
t is this.  The right may not be really right.

What appears so may not be really so.  Even if what is right is really rig
ht, wherein it differs from wrong cannot be

made plain by argument.  Even if what appears so is really so, wherein it
differs from what is not so also cannot be

made plain by argument.

        "Take no heed of time nor of right and wrong.  Passing into the re
alm of the Infinite, take your final rest therein."

        The Penumbra said to the Umbra, "At one moment you move: at anothe
r you are at rest.  At one moment you sit

down: at another you get up.  Why this instability of purpose?"

        "Perhaps I depend," replied the Umbra, "upon something which cause
s me to do as I do; and perhaps that

something depends in turn upon something else which causes it to do as it
does.  Or perhaps my dependence is like

(the unconscious movements) of a snake's scales or of a cicada's wings.  H
ow can I tell why I do one thing, or why I

do not do another?"

        Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou <<18>> , dreamt I was a butterfly
, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents

and purposes a butterfly.  I was conscious only of my happiness as a butte
rfly, unaware that I was Chou.  Soon I

awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether
 I was then a man dreaming I was a

butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.  Between
a man and a butterfly there is necessarily

a distinction.  The transition is called the transformation of material th
ings <<19>> .




        human life is limited, but knowledge is limitless.  To drive the l
imited in pursuit of the limitless is fatal; and to

presume that one really knows is fatal indeed!

        In doing good, avoid fame.  In doing bad, avoid disgrace.  Pursue
a middle course as your principle.  Thus you

will guard your body from harm, preserve your life, fulfil your duties by
your parents, and live your allotted span of


        Prince Huei's cook was cutting up a bullock.  Every blow of his ha
nd, every heave of his shoulders, every tread of

his foot, every thrust of his knee, every whshh of rent flesh, every chhk
of the chopper, was in perfect rhythm, --like

the dance of the Mulberry Grove, like the harmonious chords of Ching Shou.

        "Well done!" cried the Prince.  "Yours is skill indeed!"

        "Sire," replied the cook laying down his chopper, "I have always d
evoted myself to Tao, which is higher than

mere skill.  When I first began to cut up bullocks, I saw before me whole
bullocks.  After three years' practice, I saw

no more whole animals.  And now I work with my mind and not with my eye.
My mind works along without the

control of the senses.  Falling back upon eternal principles, I glide thro
ugh such great joints or cavities as there may

be, according to the natural constitution of the animal.  I do not even to
uch the convolutions of muscle and tendon,

still less attempt to cut through large bones.

        "A good cook changes his chopper once a year, --because he cuts.
An ordinary cook, one a month, --because he

hacks.  But I have had this chopper nineteen years, and although I have cu
t up many thousand bullocks, its edge is as

if fresh from the whetstone.  For at the joints there are always interstic
es, and the edge of a chopper being without

thickness, it remains only to insert that which is without thickness into
such an interstice.  Indeed there is plenty of

room for the blade to move about.  It is thus that I have kept my chopper
for nineteen years as though fresh from the


        "Nevertheless, when I come upon a knotty part which is difficult t
o tackle, I am all caution.  Fixing my eye on it, I

stay my hand, and gently apply my blade, until with a hwah the part yields
 like earth crumbling to the ground.  Then

I take out my chopper and stand up, and look around, and pause with an air
 of triumph.  Then wiping my chopper, I

put it carefully away."

        "Bravo!" cried the Prince.  "From the words of this cook I have le
arned how to take care of my life."

        When Hsien, of the Kungwen family, beheld a certain official, he w
as horrified, and said, "Who is that man?

How came he to lose a leg?  Is this the work of God, or of man?"

        "Why, of course, it is the work of God, and not of man," was the r
eply.  "God made this man one-legged.  The

appearance of men is always balanced.  From this it is clear that God and
not man made him what he is."

        A pheasant of the marshes may have to go ten steps to get a peck,
a hundred to get a drink.  Yet pheasants do not

want to be fed in a cage.  For although they might have less worries, they
 would not like it.  When Laotse died, Ch'in

Yi went to the funeral.  He uttered three yells and departed.  A disciple
asked him saying, "Were you not our

Master's friend?"

        "I was," replied Ch'in Yi.

        "And if so, do you consider that a sufficient expression of grief
at his death?" added the disciple.

        "I do," said Ch'in Yi.  "I had thought he was a (mortal) man, but
now I know that he was not. When I went in to

mourn, I found old persons weeping as if for their children, young ones wa
iling as if for their mothers.  When these

people meet, they must have said words on the occasion and shed tears with
out any intention.  (To cry thus at one's

death) is to evade the natural principles (of life and death) and increase
 human attachments, forgetting the source

from which we receive this life.  The ancients called this 'evading the re
tribution of Heaven.' The Master came,

because it was his time to be born; He went, because it was his time to go
 away.  Those who accept the natural

course and sequence of things and live in obedience to it are beyond joy a
nd sorrow.  The ancients spoke of this as

the emancipation from bondage.  The fingers may not be able to supply all
the fuel, but the fire is transmitted, and

we know not when it will come to an end."




        Yen huei <<20>>  went to take leave of Confucius.  "Whither are yo
u bound?" asked the Master.

        "I am going to the State of Wei," was the reply.

        "And what do you propose to do there?" continued Confucius.

        "I hear," answered Yen Huei, "that the Prince of Wei is of mature
age, but of an unmanageable disposition.  He

behaves as if the people were of no account, and will not see his own faul
ts.  He disregards human lives and the

people perish; and their corpses lie about like so much under growth in a
marsh.  The people do not know where to

turn for help.  And I have heard you say that if a state be well governed,
 it may be passed over; but that if it be badly

governed, then we should visit it.  At the door of physicians there are ma
ny sick people.  I would test my knowledge

in this sense, that perchance I may do some good at that state."

        "Alas!" cried Confucius, "you will be only going to your doom.  Fo
r Tao must not bustle about.  If it does it will

have divergent aims.  From divergent aims come restlessness; from restless
ness comes worry, and from worry one

reaches the stage of being beyond hope.  The Sages of old first strengthen
ed their own character before they tried to

strengthen that of others.  Before you have strengthened your own characte
r, what leisure have you to attend to the

doings of wicked men? Besides, do you know into what virtue evaporates by
motion and where knowledge ends?

Virtue evaporates by motion into desire for fame and knowledge ends in con
tentions.  In the struggle for fame men

crush each other, while their wisdom but provokes rivalry.  Both are instr
uments of evil, and are not proper principles

of living.

        "Besides, if before one's own solid character and integrity become
 an influence among men and before one's own

disregard for fame reaches the hearts of men, one should go and force the
preaching of charity and duty and the

rules of conduct on wicked men, he would only make these men hate him for
his very goodness. Such a person may

be called a messenger of evil.  A messenger of evil will be the victim of
evil from others.  That, alas!  will be your


        "On the other hand, if the Prince loves the good and hates evil, w
hat object will you have in inviting him to

change his ways?  Before you have opened your mouth, the Prince himself wi
ll have seized the opportunity to wrest

the victory from you.  Your eyes will be dazzled, your expression fade, yo
ur words will hedge about, your face will

show confusion, and your heart will yield within you.  It will be as thoug
h you took fire to quell fire, water to quell

water, which is known as aggravation.  And if you begin with concessions,
there will be no end to them.  If you

neglect this sound advice and talk too much, you will die at the hands of
that violent man.

        "Of old, Chieh murdered Kuanlung P'ang, and Chou slew Prince Pikan
.  Their victims were both men who

cultivated themselves and cared for the good of the people, and thus offen
ded their superiors.  Therefore, their

superiors got rid of them, because of their goodness.  This was the result
 of their love for fame.

        "Of old, Yao attacked the Ts'ung-chih and Hsu:-ao countries, and Y
a attacked the Yu-hus.  The countries were

laid waste, their inhabitants slaughtered, their rulers killed.  Yet they
fought without ceasing, and strove for material

objects to the last.  These are instances of striving for fame or for mate
rial objects.  Have you not heard that even

Sages cannot overcome this love of fame and this desire for material objec
ts (in rulers)?  Are you then likely to

succeed?  But of course you have a plan.  Tell it to me."

        "Gravity of demeanor and humility; persistence and singleness of p
urpose, --will this do?" replied Yen Huei.

"Alas, no," said Confucius, "how can it?  The Prince is a haughty person,
filled with pride, and his moods are fickle.

No one opposes him, and so he has come to take actual pleasure in tramplin
g upon the feelings of others.  And if he

has thus failed in the practice of routine virtues, do you expect that he
will take readily to higher ones?  He will

persist in his ways, and though outwardly he may agree with you, inwardly
he will not repent.  How then will you

make him mend his ways?"

        "Why, then," (replied Yen Huei) "I can be inwardly straight, and o
utwardly yielding, and I shall substantiate what

I say by appeals to antiquity.  He who is inwardly straight is a servant o
f God.  And he who is a servant of God

knows that the Son of Heaven and himself are equally the children of God <
<21>> .  Shall then such a one trouble

whether his words are approved or disapproved by man?  Such a person is co
mmonly regarded as an (innocent)

child.  This is to be a servant of God.  He who is outwardly yielding is a
 servant of man.  He bows, he kneels, he

folds his hands --such is the ceremonial of a minister. What all men do, s
hall I not do also?  What all men do, none

will blame me for doing.  This is to be a servant of man.  He who substant
iates his words by appeals to antiquity is a

servant of the Sages of old.  Although I utter the words of warning and ta
ke him to task, it is the Sages of old who

speak, and not I.  Thus I shall not receive the blame for my uprightness.
 This is to be the servant of the Sages of old.

Will this do?"

        "No!  How can it?" replied Confucius.  "Your plans are too many.
You are firm, but lacking in prudence.

However, you are only narrow minded, but you will not get into trouble; bu
t that is all.  You will still be far from

influencing him because your own opinions are still too rigid."

        "Then," said Yen Huei, "I can go no further.  I venture to ask for
 a method."

        Confucius said, "Keep fast, and I shall tell you.  Will it be easy
 for you when you still have a narrow mind?  He

who treats things as easy will not be approved by the bright heaven."

        "My family is poor," replied Yen Huei, "and for many months we hav
e tasted neither wine nor flesh.  Is that not


        "That is a fast according to the religious observances," answered
Confucius, "but not the fasting of the heart."

        "And may I ask," said Yen Huei, "in what consists the fasting of t
he heart?"

        "Concentrate your will.  Hear not with your ears, but with your mi
nd; not with your mind, but with your spirit.

Let your hearing stop with the ears, and let your mind stop with its image
s.  Let your spirit, however, be like a blank,

passively responsive to externals.  In such open receptivity only can Tao
abide.  And that open receptivity is the

fasting of the heart."

        "Then," said Yen Huei, "the reason I could not use this method was
 because of consciousness of a self.  If I could

apply this method, the assumption of a self would have gone.  Is this what
 you mean by the receptive state?"

        "Exactly so," replied the Master.  "Let me tell you.  Enter this m
an's service, but without idea of working for

fame.  Talk when he is in a mood to listen, and stop when he is not.  Do w
ithout any sort of labels or self-

advertisements.  Keep to the One and let things take their natural course.
  Then you may have some chance of

success.  It is easy to stop walking: the trouble is to walk without touch
ing the ground.  As an agent of man, it is easy

to use artificial devices; but not as an agent of God.  You have heard of
winged creatures flying.  You have never

heard of flying without wings.  You have heard of men being wise with know
ledge.  You have never heard of men

wise without knowledge   "Look at that emptiness. There is brightness in a
n empty room.  Good luck dwells in

repose.  If there is not (inner) repose, your mind will be galloping about
 though you are sitting still.  Let your ears

and eyes communicate within but shut out all knowledge from the mind.  The
n the spirits will come to dwell therein,

not to mention man.  This is the method for the transformation (influencin
g) of all Creation.  It was the key to the

influence of Yu and Shun, and the secret of the success of Fu Hsi and Chi
Chu.  How much more should the

common man follow the same rule?"


        (Two sections are omitted here. --Ed.)


        A certain carpenter Shih was travelling to the Ch'i State.  On rea
ching Shady Circle, he saw a sacred li tree in the

temple to the God of Earth.  It was so large that its shade could cover a
herd of several thousand cattle.  It was a

hundred spans in girth, towering up eighty feet over the hilltop, before i
t branched out.  A dozen boats could be cut

out of it.  Crowds stood gazing at it, but the carpenter took no notice, a
nd went on his way without even casting a

look behind.  His apprentice however took a good look at it, and when he c
aught up with his master, said, "Ever

since I have handled an adze in your service, I have never seen such a spl
endid piece of timber.  How was it that you,

Master, did not care to stop and look at it?"

        "Forget about it.  It's not worth talking about," replied his mast
er.  "It's good for nothing.  Made into a boat, it

would sink; into a coffin, it would rot; into furniture, it would break ea
sily; into a door, it would sweat; into a pillar, it

would be worm-eaten.  It is wood of no quality, and of no use.  That is wh
y it has attained its present age."

        When the carpenter reached home, he dreamt that the spirit of the
tree appeared to him in his sleep and spoke to

him as follows: "What is it you intend to compare me with?  Is it with fin
e-grained wood?  Look at the cherry-apple,

the pear, the orange, the pumelo, and other fruit bearers?  As soon as the
ir fruit ripens they are stripped and treated

with indignity.  The great boughs are snapped off, the small ones scattere
d abroad.  Thus do these trees by their own

value injure their own lives.  They cannot fulfil their allotted span of y
ears, but perish prematurely because they

destroy themselves for the (admiration of) the world.  Thus it is with all
 things. Moreover, I tried for a long period to

be useless.  Many times I was in danger of being cut down, but at length I
 have succeeded, and so have become

exceedingly useful to myself.  Had I indeed been of use, I should not be a
ble to grow to this height.  Moreover, you

and I are both created things. Have done then with this criticism of each
other.  Is a good-for-nothing fellow in

imminent danger of death a fit person to talk of a good-for-nothing tree?"
   When the carpenter Shih awaked and told

his dream, his apprentice said, "If the tree aimed at uselessness, how was
 it that it became a sacred tree?"

        "Hush!" replied his master.  "Keep quiet.  It merely took refuge i
n the temple to escape from the abuse of those

who do not appreciate it.  Had it not become sacred, how many would have w
anted to cut it down!  Moreover, the

means it adopts for safety is different from that of others, and to critic
ize it by ordinary standards would be far wide

of the mark."

        Tsech'i of Nan-po was travelling on the hill of Shang when he saw
a large tree which astonished him very much.

A thousand chariot teams of four horses could find shelter under its shade
.  "What tree is this?" cried Tsech'i.

"Surely it must be unusually fine timber."  Then looking up, he saw that i
ts branches were too crooked for rafters;

and looking down he saw that the trunk's twisting loose grain made it valu
eless for coffins.  He tasted a leaf, but it

took the skin off his lips; and its odor was so strong that it would make
a man intoxicated for three days together.

"Ah!" said Tsech'i, "this tree is really good for nothing, and that is how
 it has attained this size.  A spiritual man

might well follow its example of uselessness."

        In the State of Sung there is a land belonging to the Chings, wher
e thrive the catalpa, the cedar, and the mulberry.

Such as are of one span or so in girth are cut down for monkey cages.  Tho
se of two or three spans are cut down for

the beams of fine houses.  Those of seven or eight spans are cut down for
the solid (unjointed) sides of rich men's

coffins.  Thus they do not fulfil their allotted span of years, but perish
 young beneath the axe.  Such is the misfortune

which overtakes worth.  For the sacrifices to the River God, neither bulls
 with white foreheads, nor pigs with high

snouts, nor men suffering from piles, can be used.  This is known to all t
he soothsayers, for these are regarded as

inauspicious.  The wise, however, would regard them as extremely auspiciou
s (to themselves).

        There was a hunchback named Su.  His jaws touched his navel.  His
shoulders were higher than his head.  His

neck bone stuck out toward the sky.  His viscera were turned upside down.
 His buttocks were where his ribs should

have been.  By tailoring, or washing, he was easily able to earn his livin
g.  By sifting rice he could make enough to

support a family of ten.  When orders came down for a conscription, the hu
nchback walked about unconcerned

among the crowd. And similarly, in government conscription for public work
s, his deformity saved him from being

called.  On the other hand, when it came to government donations of grain
for the disabled, the hunchback received

as much as three chung and of firewood, ten faggots.  And if physical defo
rmity was thus enough to preserve his

body until the end of his days, how much more should moral and mental defo
rmity avail!

        When Confucius was in the Ch'u State, the eccentric Chieh Yu passe
d his door, saying, "O phoenix!  O phoenix!

How has thy virtue fallen!  Wait not for the coming years, nor hanker back
 to the past.  When the right principles

prevail on earth, prophets will fulfil their mission.  When the right prin
ciples prevail not, they will but preserve

themselves.  At the present day, they are but trying to keep out of jail!
 The good fortunes of this world are light as

feathers, yet none estimates them at their true value.  The misfortunes of
 this life are weighty as the earth, yet none

knows how to keep out of their reach.  No more, no more, show off your vir
tue.  Beware, beware, move cautiously

on!  O brambles, O brambles, wound not my steps!  I pick my way about, hur
t not my feet!" <<22>>

        The mountain trees invite their own cutting down; lamp oil invites
 its own burning up.  Cinnamon bark can be

eaten; therefore the tree is cut down.  Lacquer can be used, therefore the
 tree is scraped. All men know the utility of

useful things; but they do not know the utility of futility.




        IN THE STATE OF Lu there was a man, named Wang T'ai, who had had o
ne of his legs cut off.  His disciples

were as numerous as those of Confucius. Ch'ang Chi asked Confucius, saying
, "This Wang T'ai has been mutilated,

yet he has as many followers in the Lu State as you.  He neither stands up
 to preach nor sits down to give discourse;

yet those who go to him empty, depart full.  Is he the kind of person who
can teach without words and influence

people's minds without material means?  What manner of man is this?"

        "He is a sage," replied Confucius, "I wanted to go to him, but am
merely behind the others.  Even I will go and

make him my teacher, --why not those who are lesser than I?  And I will le
ad, not only the State of Lu, but the whole

world to follow him."

        "The man has been mutilated," said Ch'ang Chi, "and yet people cal
l him 'Master.' He must be very different from

the ordinary men.  If so, how does he train his mind?"

        "Life and Death are indeed changes of great moment," answered Conf
ucius, "but they cannot affect his mind.

Heaven and earth may collapse, but his mind will remain.  Being indeed wit
hout flaw, it will not share the fate of all

things.  It can control the transformation of things, while preserving its
 source intact."

        "How so?" asked Ch'ang Chi.  "From the point of view of differenti
ation of things," replied Confucius, "we

distinguish between the liver and the gall, between the Ch'u State and the
 Yueh State.  From the point of view of

their sameness, all things are One. He who regards things in this light do
es not even trouble about what reaches him

through the senses of hearing and sight, but lets his mind wander in the m
oral harmony of things.  He beholds the

unity in things, and does not notice the loss of particular objects.  And
thus the loss of his leg is to him as would be

the loss of so much dirt."

        "But he cultivates only himself," said Ch'ang Chi.  "He uses his k
nowledge to perfect his mind, and develops his

mind into the Absolute Mind.  But how is it that people flock around him?"

        "A man," replied Confucius, "does not seek to see himself in runni
ng water, but in still water.  For only what is

itself still can instill stillness into others.  The grace of earth has re
ached only the pines and cedars; winter and

summer alike, they are green.  The grace of God has reached to Yao and to
Shun, who alone attained rectitude.

Happily he was able to rectify himself and thus become the means through w
hich all were rectified.  For the

possession of one's original (nature) is evidenced in true courage.  A man
 will, single-handed, brave a whole army.

And if such a result can be achieved by one in search of fame through self
 control, how much greater courage can be

shown by one who extends his sway over heaven and earth and gives shelter
to all things, who, lodging temporarily

within the confines of a body with contempt for the superficialities of si
ght and sound, brings his knowledge to level

all knowledge and whose mind never dies!  Besides, he (Wang T'ai) is only
awaiting his appointed hour to go up to

Heaven.  Men indeed flock to him of their own accord.  How can he take ser
iously the affairs of this world?"

        Shent'u Chia had only one leg.  He studied under Pohun Wujen ( Mud
dle-Head No-Such-Person") together with

Tsech'an <<24>>  of the Cheng State.  The latter said to him, "When I leav
e first, do you remain behind.  When you

leave first, I will remain behind."  Next day, when they were again togeth
er sitting on the same mat in the lecture-

room, Tsech'an said, "When I leave first, do you remain behind. Or if you
leave first, I will remain behind.  I am now

about to go.  Will you remain or not?  I notice you show no respect to a h
igh personage. Perhaps you think yourself

my equal?"

        "In the house of the Master," replied Shent'u Chia, "there is alre
ady a high personage (the Master). Perhaps you

think that you are the high personage and therefore should take precedence
 over the rest.  Now I have heard that if a

mirror is perfectly bright, dust will not collect on it, and that if it do
es, the mirror is no longer bright.  He who

associates for long with the wise should be without fault.  Now you have b
een seeking the greater things at the feet

of our Master, yet you can utter words like these.  Don't you think you ar
e making a mistake?"

        "You are already mutilated like this."  retorted Tsech'an, "yet yo
u are still seeking to compete in virtue with Yao.

To look at you, I should say you had enough to do to reflect on your past

        "Those who cover up their sins," said Shent'u Chia, "so as not to
lose their legs, are many in number.  Those who

forget to cover up their misdemeanors and so lose their legs (through puni
shment) are few.  But only the virtuous

man can recognize the inevitable and remain unmoved.  People who walked in
 front of the bull's-eye when Hou Yi

(the famous archer) was shooting, would be hit.  Some who were not hit wer
e just lucky.  There are many people

with sound legs who laugh at me for not having them.  This used to make me
 angry.  But since I came to study under

our Master, I have stopped worrying about it.  Perhaps our Master has so f
ar succeeded in washing (purifying) me

with his goodness.  At any rate, I have been with him nineteen years witho
ut being aware of my deformity.  Now

you and I are roaming in the realm of the spiritual, and you are judging m
e in the realm of the physical. <<25>>   Are

you not committing a mistake?"   At this Tsech'an began to fidget and his
countenance changed, and he bade Shent'u

Chia to speak no more.

        There was a man of the Lu State who had been mutilated, by the nam
e of Shushan No-toes.  He came walking

on his heels to see Confucius; but Confucius said, "You were careless, and
 so brought this misfortune upon yourself.

What is the use of coming to me now?" "It was because I was inexperienced
and careless with my body that I hurt

my feet," replied No-toes.  "Now I have come with something more precious
than feet, and it is that which I am

seeking to preserve.  There is no man, but Heaven shelters him; and there
is no man, but the Earth supports him.  I

thought that you, Master, would be like Heaven and Earth.  I little expect
ed to hear these words from you."

        "Pardon my stupidity," said Confucius.  "Why not come in?  I shall
 discuss with you what I have learned."  But

No-toes left.  When No-toes had left, Confucius said to his disciples, "Ta
ke a good lesson.  No-toes is one-legged,

yet he is seeking to learn in order to make atonement for his previous mis
deeds.  How much more should those who

have no misdeeds for which to atone?"

        No-toes went off to see Lao Tan (Laotse) and said, "Is Confucius a
 Perfect One or is he not quite?  How is it that

he is so anxious to learn from you?  He is seeking to earn a reputation by
 his abstruse and strange learning, which is

regarded by the Perfect One as mere fetters."

        "Why do you not make him regard life and death, and possibility an
d impossibility as alternations of one and the

same principle," answered Lao Tan, "and so release him from these fetters?

        "It is God who has thus punished him," replied No-toes.  "How coul
d he be released?"

        Duke Ai of the Lu State said to Confucius, "In the Wei State there
 is an ugly person, named Ait'ai (Ugly) T'o.

The men who have lived with him cannot stop thinking about him.  Women who
 have seen him, would say to their

parents, 'Rather than be another man's wife, I would be this man's concubi
ne.' There are scores of such women.  He

never tries to lead others, but only follows them.  He wields no power of
a ruler by which he may protect men's lives.

He has no hoarded wealth by which to gratify their bellies, and is besides
 frightfully loathsome.  He follows but does

not lead, and his name is not known outside his own State. Yet men and wom
en alike all seek his company.  So there

must be some thing in him that is different from other people.  I sent for
 him, and saw that he was indeed frightfully

ugly.  Yet we had not been many months together before I began to see ther
e was something in this man.  A year

had not passed before I began to trust him.  As my State wanted a Prime Mi
nister, I offered him the post.  He looked

sullenly before he replied and appeared as if he would much rather have de
clined.  Perhaps he did not think me good

enough for him!  At any rate, I gave the post to him; but in a very short
time he left me and went away.  I grieved for

him as for a lost friend, as though there were none left with whom I could
 enjoy having my kingdom.  What manner

of man is this?"

        "When I was on a mission to the Ch'u State," replied Confucius, "I
 saw a litter of young pigs sucking their dead

mother.  After a while they looked at her, and then all left the body and
went off.  For their mother did not look at

them any more, nor did she seem any more to have been of their kind.  What
 they loved was their mother; not the

body which contained her, but that which made the body what it was. When a
 man is killed in battle, his coffin is not

covered with a square canopy.  A man whose leg has been cut off does not v
alue a present of shoes.  In each case,

the original purpose of such things is gone.  The concubines of the Son of
 Heaven do not cut their nails or pierce

their ears.  Those (servants) who are married have to live outside (the pa
lace) and cannot be employed again.  Such is

the importance attached to preserving the body whole.  How much more value
d is one who has preserved his virtue

whole? "Now Ugly T'o has said nothing and is already trusted.  He has achi
eved nothing and is sought after, and is

offered the government of a country with the only fear that he might decli
ne.  Indeed he must be the one whose

talents are perfect and whose virtue is without outward form!"

         What do you mean by his talents being perfect?" asked the Duke.
Life and Death, ' replied Confucius,

"possession and loss, success and failure, poverty and wealth, virtue and
vice, good and evil report hunger and thirst,

heat and cold --these are changes of things in the natural course of event
s.  Day and night they follow upon one

another, and no man can say where they spring from.  Therefore they must n
ot be allowed to disturb the natural

harmony, nor enter into the soul's domain.  One should live so that one is
 at ease and in harmony with the world,

without loss of happiness, and by day and by night, share the (peace of) s
pring with the created things.  Thus

continuously one creates the seasons in one's own breast.  Such a person m
ay be said to have perfect talents."

        "And what is virtue without outward form?"

        "When standing still," said Confucius, "the water is in the most p
erfect state of repose.  Let that be your model.

It remains quietly within, and is not agitated without.  It is from the cu
ltivation of such harmony that virtue results.

And if virtue takes no outward form, man will not be able to keep aloof fr
om it."

        Some days afterwards Duke Ai told Mintse saying, "When first I too
k over the reins of government, I thought

that in guiding the people and caring for their lives, I had done all my d
uty as a ruler.  But now that I have heard the

words of a perfect man, I fear that I have not achieved it, but am foolish
ly squandering my bodily energy and

bringing ruin to my country.  Confucius and I are not prince and minister,
 but friends in spirit.'

        Hunchback-Deformed-No-Lips spoke with Duke Ling of Wei and the Duk
e took a fancy to him.  As for the well-

formed men, he thought their necks were too scraggy.  Big-Jar-Goiter spoke
 with Duke Huan of Ch'i, and the Duke

took a fancy to him.  As for the well-formed men, he thought their necks w
ere too scraggy.  Thus it is that when

virtue excels, the outward form is forgotten.  But mankind forgets not tha
t which is to be forgotten, forgetting that

which is not to be forgotten.  This is forgetfulness indeed!

        And thus the Sage sets his spirit free, while knowledge is regarde
d as extraneous growths- agreements are for

cementing relationships, goods are only for social dealings, and the handi
crafts are only for serving commerce.  For

the Sage does not contrive, and therefore has no use for knowledge; he doe
s not cut up the world, and therefore

requires no cementing of relationships; he has no loss, and therefore has
no need to acquire; he sells nothing, and

therefore has no use for commerce.  These four qualifications are bestowed
 upon him by God, that is to say, he is

fed by God.  And he who is thus fed by God has little need to be fed by ma

        He wears the human form without human passions. Because he wears t
he human form he associates with men.

Because he has not human passions the questions of right and wrong do not
touch him. Infinitesimal indeed is that

which belongs to the human; infinitely great is that which is completed in

        Hueitse said to Chuangtse, "Do men indeed originally have no passi

        "Certainly," replied Chuangtse.

        "But if a man has no passions," argued Hueitse, "what is it that m
akes him a man?"

        "Tao," replied Chuangtse, "gives him his expressions, and God give
s him his form.  How should he not be a


        "If then he is a man," said Hueitse, "how can he be without passio

        "Right and wrong (approval and disapproval)," answered Chuangtse,
"are what I mean by passions.  By a man

without passions I mean one who does not permit likes and dislikes to dist
urb his internal economy, but rather falls

in line with nature and does not try to improve upon (the materials of) li

        "But how is a man to live this bodily life," asked Hueitse.

        "He does not try to improve upon (the materials of) his living?"

        "Tao gives him his expression," said Chuangtse, "and God gives him
 his form.  He should not permit likes and

dislikes to disturb his internal economy.  But now you are devoting your i
ntelligence to externals, and wearing out

your vital spirit.  Lean against a tree and sing; or sit against a table a
nd sleep!  God has made you a shapely sight, yet

your only thought is the hard and white." <<26>>




        He who knows what is of God and who knows what is of Man has reach
ed indeed the height (of wisdom).  One

who knows what is of God patterns his living after God.  One who knows wha
t is of Man may still use his

knowledge of the known to develop his knowledge of the unknown, living til
l the end of his days and not perishing

young.  This is the fullness of knowledge.  Herein, however, there is a fl
aw.  Correct knowledge is dependent on

objects, but the objects of knowledge are relative and uncertain (changing
).  How can one know that the natural is

not really of man, and what is of man is not really natural? We must, more
over, have true men before we can have

true knowledge.

        But what is a true man?  The true men of old did not override the
weak, did not attain their ends by brute

strength, and did not gather around them counsellors.  Thus, failing they
had no cause for regret; succeeding, no

cause for self-satisfaction.  And thus they could scale heights without tr
embling, enter water without becoming wet,

and go through fire without feeling hot.  That is the kind of knowledge wh
ich reaches to the depths of Tao.

        The true men of old slept without dreams and waked up without worr
ies.  They ate with indifference to flavour,

and drew deep breaths.  For true men draw breath from their heels, the vul
gar only from their throats.  Out of the

crooked, words are retched up like vomit. When man's attachments are deep,
 their divine endowments are shallow.

        The true men of old did not know what it was to love life or to ha
te death.  They did not rejoice in birth, nor strive

to put off dissolution.  Unconcerned they came and unconcerned they went.
 That was all.  They did not forget

whence it was they had sprung, neither did they seek to inquire their retu
rn thither.  Cheerfully they accepted life,

waiting patiently for their restoration (the end).  This is what is called
 not to lead the heart astray from Tao, and not to

supplement the natural by human means.  Such a one may be called a true ma
n.  Such men are free in mind and

calm in demeanor, with high fore heads.  Sometimes disconsolate like autum
n, and sometimes warm like spring,

their joys and sorrows are in direct touch with the four seasons in harmon
y with all creation, and none know the

limit thereof.  And so it is that when the Sage wages war, he can destroy
a kingdom and yet not lose the affection of

the people; he spreads blessing upon all things, but it is not due to his
(conscious) love of fellow men.  Therefore he

who delights in understanding the material world is not a Sage.  He who ha
s personal attachments is not humane.

He who calculates the time of his actions is not wise.  He who does not kn
ow the interaction of benefit and harm is

not a superior man.  He who pursues fame at the risk of losing his self is
 not a scholar.  He who loses his life and is

not true to himself can never be a master of man.  Thus Hu Puhsieh, Wu Kua
ng, Po Yi, Shu Chi, Chi Tse, Hsu Yu,

Chi T'o, and Shent'u Ti, were the servants of rulers, and did the behests
of others, not their own. <<27>>

        The true men of old appeared of towering stature and yet could not
 topple down.  They behaved as though

wanting in themselves, but without looking up to others.  Naturally indepe
ndent of mind, they were not severe.

Living in unconstrained freedom, yet they did not try to show off.  They a
ppeared to smile as if pleased, and to move

only in natural response to surroundings.  Their serenity flowed from the
store of goodness within.  In social

relationships, they kept to their inner character.  Broad-minded, they app
eared great; towering, they seemed beyond

control.  Continuously abiding, they seemed like doors kept shut; absent-m
inded, they seemed to forget speech.

They saw in penal laws an outward form; in social ceremonies, certain mean
s; in knowledge, tools of expediency; in

morality, a guide.  It was for this reason that for them penal laws meant
a merciful administration; social ceremonies,

a means to get along with the world; knowledge a help for doing what they
could not avoid; and morality, a guide

that they might walk along with others to reach a hill. <<28>>   And all m
en really thought that they were at pains to

make their lives correct.

        For what they cared for was ONE, and what they did not care for wa
s ONE also. That which they regarded as

ONE was ONE, and that which they did not regard as ONE was ONE likewise.
In that which was ONE, they were

of God; in that which was not ONE, they were of man.  And so between the h
uman and the divine no conflict

ensued.  This was to be a true man.

        Life and Death are a part of Destiny.  Their sequence, like day an
d night, is of God, beyond the interference of

man.  These all lie in the inevitable nature of things.  He simply looks u
pon God as his father; if he loves him with

what is born of the body, shall he not love him also with that which is gr
eater than the body?  A man looks upon a

ruler of men as one superior to himself; if he is willing to sacrifice his
 body (for his ruler), shall he not then offer his

pure (spirit) also?

        When the pond dries up and the fishes are left upon the dry ground
, rather than leave them to moisten each other

with their damp and spittle it would be far better to let them forget them
selves in their native rivers - and lakes.  And

it would be better than praising Yao and blaming Chieh to forget both (the
 good and bad) and lose oneself in Tao.

        The Great (universe) gives me this form, this toil in manhood, thi
s repose in old age, this rest in death.  And

surely that which is such a kind arbiter of my life is the best arbiter of
 my death.

        A boat may be hidden in a creek, or concealed in a bog, which is g
enerally considered safe.  But at midnight a

strong man may come and carry it away on his back.  Those dull of understa
nding do not perceive that however you

conceal small things in larger ones, there will always be a chance of losi
ng them.  But if you entrust that which

belongs to the universe to the whole universe, from it there will be no es
cape.  For this is the great law of things.

        To have been cast in this human form is to us already a source of
joy.  How much greater joy beyond our

conception to know that that which is now in human form may undergo countl
ess transitions, with only the infinite

to look forward to?  Therefore it is that the Sage rejoices in that which
can never be lost, but endures always.  For if

we emulate those who can accept graciously long age or short life and the
vicissitudes of events, how much more

that which informs all creation on which all changing phenomena depend?

        For Tao has its inner reality and its evidences.  It is devoid of
action and of form.  It may be transmitted, but

cannot be received; It may be obtained, but cannot be seen.  It is based i
n itself, rooted in itself.  Before heaven and

earth were, Tao existed by itself from all time.  It gave the spirits and
rulers their spiritual powers, and gave Heaven

and Earth their birth.  To Tao, the zenith is not high, nor the nadir low;
 no point in time is long ago, nor by the lapse

of ages has it grown old.

        Hsi Wei obtained Tao, and so set the universe in order.  Fu Hsi <<
29>>  obtained it, and was able to steal the

secrets of eternal principles.  The Great Bear obtained it, and has never
erred from its course.  The sun and moon

obtained it, and have never ceased to revolve.  K'an P'i <<30>>  obtained
it, and made his abode in the K'unlun

mountains.  P'ing I <<31>>  obtained it, and rules over the streams.  Chie
n Wu <<32>>  obtained it, and dwells on

Mount T'ai.  The Yellow Emperor <<33>>  obtained it, and soared upon the c
louds to heaven.  Chuan Hsu <<34>>

obtained it, and dwells in the Dark Palace.  Yu Ch'iang <<35>>  obtained i
t, and established himself at the North

Pole.  The Western (Fairy) Queen Mother obtained it, and settled at Shao K
uang, since when and until when, no one

knows.  P'eng Tsu obtained it, and lived from the time of Shun until the t
ime of the Five Princes.  Fu Yueh obtained

it, and as the Minister of Wu Ting <<36>>  extended his rule to the whole
empire.  And now, charioted upon the

Tungwei (one constellation) and drawn by the Chiwei (another constellation
), he has taken his station among the

stars of heaven.

        Nanpo Tsek'uei said to Nu: Yu (or Female Yu), "You are of a high a
ge, and yet you have a child's complexion.

How is this?"   Nu: Yu replied, "I have learned Tao."

        "Could I get Tao by studying it?" asked the other.  "No!  How can
you?" said Nu: Yu.  "You are not the type of

person.  There was Puliang I.  He had all the mental talents of a sage, bu
t not Tao of the sage.  Now I had Tao,

though not those talents.  But do you think I was able to teach him to bec
ome indeed a sage?  Had it been so, then to

teach Tao to one who has a sage's talents would be an easy matter.  It was
 not so, for I had to wait patiently to reveal

it to him.  In three days, he could transcend this mundane world.  Again I
 waited for seven days more, then he could

transcend all material existence.  After he could transcend all material e
xistence, I waited for another nine days, after

which he could transcend all life.  After he could transcend all life, the
n he had the clear vision of the morning, and

after that, was able to see the Solitary (One).  After seeing the Solitary
, he could abolish the distinctions of past and

present.  After abolishing the past and present, he was able to enter ther
e where life and death are no more, where

killing does not take away life, nor does giving birth add to it.  He was
ever in accord with the exigencies of his

environment, accepting all and welcoming all, regarding everything as dest
royed, and everything as in completion.

This is to be 'secure amidst confusion,' reaching security through chaos."

        "Where did you learn this from?" asked Nanpo Tsek'uei. "I learned
it from the Son of Ink," replied Nu Yu, "and

the Son of Ink learned it from the Grandson of Learning, the Grandson of L
earning from Understanding, and

Understanding from Insight, Insight learned it from Practice, Practice fro
m Folk Song, and Folk Song from Silence,

Silence from the Void, and the Void learned it from the Seeming Beginning.

        Four men: Tsesze, Tseyu, Tseli, and Tselai, were conversing togeth
er, saying, "Whoever can make Not-being the

head, Life the backbone, and Death the tail, and whoever realizes that dea
th and life and being and non-being are of

one body, that man shall be admitted to friendship with us."  The four loo
ked at each other and smiled, and

completely understanding one another, became friends accordingly. By-and-b
y, Tseyu fell ill, and Tsesze went to see

him.  "Verily the Creator is great!" said the sick man.  "See how He has d
oubled me up."  His back was so hunched

that his viscera were at the top of his body.  His cheeks were level with
his navel, and his shoulders were higher than

his neck.  His neck bone pointed up towards the sky.  The whole economy of
 his organism was deranged, but his

mind was calm as ever.  He dragged himself to a well, and said, "Alas, tha
t God should have doubled me up like


        "Do you dislike it?" asked Tsesze.  " No, why should l?" replied T
seyu.  "If my left arm should become a cock, I

should be able to herald the dawn with it. If my right arm should become a
 sling, I should be able to shoot down a

bird to broil with it.  If my buttocks should become wheels, and my spirit
 become a horse, I should be able to ride in

it --what need would I have of a chariot?  I obtained life because it was
my time, and I am now parting with it in

accordance with Tao.  Content with the coming of things in their time and
living in accord with Tao, joy and sorrow

touch me not.  This is, according to the ancients, to be freed from bondag
e.  Those who cannot be freed from

bondage are so because they are bound by the trammels of material existenc
e.  But man has ever given way before

God; why, then, should I dislike it?"

        By-and-by, Tselai fell ill, and lay gasping for breath, while his
family stood weeping around.  Tseli went to see

him, and cried to the wife and children: "Go away!  You are impeding his d
issolution."  Then, leaning against the

door, he said, "Verily, God is great!  I wonder what He will make of you n
ow, and whither He will send you.  Do

you think he will make you into a rat's liver or into an insect leg?"

        "A son," answered Tselai, "must go whithersoever his parents bid h
im, East, West, North, or South.  Yin and

Yang are no other than a man's parents.  If Yin and Yang bid me die quickl
y, and I demur, then the fault is mine, not

theirs.  The Great (universe) gives me this form, this toil in manhood, th
is repose in old age, this rest in death.  Surely

that which is such a kind arbiter of my life is the best arbiter of my dea

        "Suppose that the boiling metal in a smelting-pot were to bubble u
p and say, 'Make of me a Moyeh!' <<37>>

think the master caster would reject that metal as uncanny.  And if simply
 because I am cast into a human form, I

were to say, 'Only a man!  only a man!' I think the Creator too would reje
ct me as uncanny.  If I regard the universe

as the smelting pot, and the Creator as the Master Caster, how should I wo
rry wherever I am sent?" Then he sank

into a peaceful sleep and waked up very much alive.

        Tsesang Hu, Mengtse Fan, and Tsech'in Chang, were conversing toget
her, saying, "Who can live together as if

they did not live together?  Who can help each other as if they did not he
lp each other?  Who can mount to heaven,

and roaming through the clouds, leap about to the Ultimate Infinite, obliv
ious of existence, for ever and ever without

end?" The three looked at each other and smiled with a perfect understandi
ng and became friends accordingly.

Shortly afterwards, Tsesang Hu died, whereupon Confucius sent Tsekung to a
ttend the mourning.  But Tsekung

found that one of his friends was arranging the cocoon sheets and the othe
r was playing stringed instruments and

(both were) singing together as follows:

        "Oh!  come back to us, Sang Hu,

        Oh!  come back to us, Sang Hu,

        Thou hast already returned to thy true state,

        While we still remain here as men!  Oh!"

        Tsekung hurried in and said, "How can you sing in the presence of
a corpse?  Is this good manners?"

        The two men looked at each other and laughed, saying, "What should
 this man know about the meaning of good

manners indeed?"

        Tsekung went back and told Confucius, asking him, "What manner of
men are these?  Their object is to cultivate

nothingness and that which lies beyond their corporeal frames.  They can s
it near a corpse and sing, unmoved.

There is no name for such persons.  What manner of men are they?"

        "These men,'' replied Confucius, "play about beyond the material t
hings; I play about within them.

Consequently, our paths do not meet, and I was stupid to have sent you to
mourn.  They consider themselves as

companions of the Creator, and play about within the One Spirit of the uni
verse.  They look upon life as a huge

goiter or excrescence, and upon death as the breaking of a tumor.  How cou
ld such people be concerned about the

coming of life and death or their sequence?  They borrow their forms from
the different elements, and take

temporary abode in the common forms, unconscious of their internal organs
and oblivious of their senses of hearing

and vision.  They go through life backwards and forwards as in a circle wi
thout beginning or end, strolling forgetfully

beyond the dust and dirt of mortality, and playing about with the affairs
of inaction.  How should such men bustle

about the conventionalities of this world, for the people to look at?"

        "But if such is the case," said Tsekung, "which world (the corpore
al or the spiritual) would you follow?"

        "I am one condemned by God," replied Confucius.  "Nevertheless, I
will share with you (what I know)."

        "May I ask what is your method?" asked Tsekung "Fishes live their
full life in water.  Men live their full life in

Tao," replied Confucius.  "Those that live their full li& in water thrive
in ponds.  Those that live their full life in Tao

achieve realization of their nature in inaction.  Hence the saying 'Fish l
ose themselves (are happy) in water; man loses

himself (is happy) in Tao.' "   "May I ask," said Tsekung, "about (those)
strange people?"

        "(Those) strange people," replied Confucius, "are strange in the e
yes of man, but normal in the eyes of God.

Hence the saying that the meanest thing in heaven would be the best on ear
th; and the best on earth, the meanest in


        Yen Huei said to Chungni <<38>> (Confucius), "When Mengsun Ts'ai's
 mother died, he wept, but without

snivelling; his heart was not grieved; he wore mourning but without sorrow
.  Yet although wanting in these three

points, he is considered the best mourner in the State of Lu.  Can there b
e really people with a hollow reputation?  I

am astonished."

        "Mr.  Mengsun," said Chungni, "has really mastered (the Tao).  He
has gone beyond the wise ones. There are still

certain things he cannot quite give up, but he has already given up some t
hings.  Mr.  Mengsun knows not whence

we come in life nor whither we go in death.  He knows not which to put fir
st and which to put last.  He is ready to be

transformed into other things without caring into what he may be transform
ed --that is all.  How could that which is

changing say that it will not change, and how could that which regards its
elf as permanent realize that it is changing

already?  Even you and I are perhaps dreamers who have not yet awakened.
Moreover, he knows his form is subject

to change, but his mind remains the same.  He believes not in real death,
but regards it as moving into a new house.

He weeps only when he sees others weep, as it comes to him naturally.

        "Besides, we all talk of 'me.' How do you know what is this 'me' t
hat we speak of?  You dream you are a bird, and

soar to heaven, or dream you are a fish, and dive into the ocean's depths.
  And you cannot tell whether the man now

speaking is awake or in a dream.  "A man feels a pleasurable sensation bef
ore he smiles, and smiles before he thinks

how he ought to smile.  Resign yourself to the sequence of things, forgett
ing the changes of life, and you shall enter

into the pure, the divine, the One."

        Yi-erh-tse went to see Hsu Yu.  The latter asked him, saying, "Wha
t have you learned from Yao?"

        "He bade me," replied the former, "practice charity and do my duty
, and distinguish clearly between right and


        "Then what do you want here?" said Hsu Yu.  "If Yao has already br
anded you with charity of heart and duty,

and cut off your nose with right and wrong, what are you doing here in thi
s free-and-easy, unfettered, take-what-

comes neighborhood?"

        "Nevertheless," replied Yi-erh-tse.  "I should like to loiter on i
ts confines."

        "If a man has lost his eyes," retorted Hsu Yu, "it is impossible f
or him to join in the appreciation of beauty of face

and complexion or to tell a blue sacrificial robe from a yellow one."

        "Wu Chuang's (No-Decorum's) disregard of her beauty," answered Yi-
erh-tse, "Chu Liang's disregard of his

strength, the Yellow Emperor's abandonment of his wisdom, --all these came
 from a process of purging and

purification.  And how do you know but that the Creator would rid me of my
 brandings, and give me a new nose,

and make me fit to become a disciple of yourself?"

        "Ah!" replied Hsu Yu, "that cannot be known.  But I will give you
an outline.  Ah!  my Master, my Master!  He

trims down all created things, and does not account it justice. He causes
all created things to thrive and does not

account it kindness. Dating back further than the remotest antiquity, He d
oes not account himself old.  Covering

heaven, supporting earth, and fashioning the various forms of things, He d
oes not account himself skilled.  It is Him

you should seek."

        Yen Huei spoke to Chungni (Confucius), "I am getting on."

        "How so?" asked the latter.

        "I have got rid of charity and duty," replied the former.

        "Very good," replied Chungni, "but not quite perfect."

        Another day, Yen Huei met Chungni and said, "I am getting on. "How

        "I have got rid of ceremonies and music," answered Yen Huei.

        "Very good," said Chungni, "but not quite perfect."

        Another day, Yen Huei again met Chungni and said, "I am getting on

        "How so?"

        "I can forget myself while sitting," replied Yen Huei.

        "What do you mean by that?" said Chungni, changing his countenance

        "I have freed myself from my body," answered Yen Huei.  I have dis
carded my reasoning powers.  And by thus

getting rid of my body and mind, I have become One with the Infinite. This
 is what I mean by forgetting myself

while sitting."

        "If you have become One," said Chungni, "there can be no room for
bias.  If you have lost yourself, there can be

no more hindrance.  Perhaps you are really a wise one.  I trust to be allo
wed to follow in your steps.

        Tseyu and Tsesang were friends.  Once when it had rained for ten d
ays, Tseyu said, "Tsesang is probably ill."  So

he packed up some food and went to see him. Arriving at the door, he heard
 something between singing and

weeping, accompanied with the sound of a stringed instrument, as follows:
"O Father! O mother!  Is this due to

God?  Is this due to man?" It was as if his voice was broken and his words
 faltered   Whereupon Tseyu went in and

asked, "Why are you singing in such manner?"

        "I was trying to think who could have brought me to this extreme,"
 replied Tsesang, "but I could not guess it.

My father and mother would hardly wish me to be poor.  Heaven covers all e
qually Earth supports all equally.  How

can they make me in particular so poor?  I was seeking to find out who was
 responsible for this, but without success.

Surely then I am brought to this extreme by Destiny."




        Joined toes and extra fingers seem to come from nature, yet, funct
ionally speaking they are superfluous.  Goiters

and tumors seem to come from the body, yet in their nature, they are super
fluous.  And (similarly), to have many

extraneous doctrines of charity and duty and regard them in practice as pa
rts of a man's natural sentiments is not the

true way of Tao.  For just as joined toes are but useless lumps of flesh,
and extra fingers but useless growths, so are

the many artificial developments of the natural sentiments of men and the
extravagances of charitable and dutiful

conduct but so many superfluous uses of intelligence.  People with superfl
uous keenness of vision put into

confusion the five colors, lose themselves in the forms and designs, and i
n the distinctions of greens and yellows for

sacrificial robcs.  Is this not so?  Of such was Li Chu (the clear-sighted
).  People with superfluous keenness of

hearing put into confusion the five notes, exaggerate the tonic difference
s of the six pitch-pipes, and the various

timbres of metal, stone, silk, and bamboo of the Huang-chung, and the Ta-l
u. <<39>>   Is this not so?  Of such was

Shih K'uang (the music master).  People who abnormally develop charity exa
lt virtue and suppress nature in order to

gain a reputation, make the world noisy with their discussions and cause i
t to follow impractical doctrines. Is this not

so?  Of such were Tseng and Shih. <<40>>   People who commit excess in arg
uments, like piling up bricks and

making knots, analyzing and inquiring into the distinctions of hard and wh
ite, identities and differences, wear

themselves out over mere vain, useless terms.  Is this not so?  Of such we
re Yang and Mo <<41>> .  All these are

superfluous and devious growths of knowledge and are not the correct guide
 for the world. He who would be the

ultimate guide never loses sight of the inner nature of life.  Therefore w
ith him, the united is not like joined toes, the

separated is not like extra fingers, what is long is not considered as exc
ess, and what is short is not regarded as

wanting.  For duck's legs, though short, cannot be lengthened without dism
ay to the duck, and a crane's legs, though

long, cannot be shortened without misery to the crane.  That which is long
 in nature must not be cut off, and that

which is short in nature must not be lengthened.  Thus will all sorrow be
avoided.  I suppose charity and duty are

surely not included in human nature.  You see how many worries and dismays
 the charitable man has!  Besides,

divide your joined toes and you will howl: bite off your extra finger and
you will scream.  In the one case, there is

too much, and in the other too little; but the worries and dismays are the
 same.  Now the charitable men of the

present age go about with a look of concern sorrowing over the ills of the
 age, while the non-charitable -let loose the

desire of their nature in their greed after position and wealth.  Therefor
e I Suppose charity and duty are not included

in human nature.  Yet from the time of the Three Dynasties downwards what
a commotion has been raised about

them!  Moreover, those who rely upon the arc, the line, compasses, and the
 square to make correct forms injure the

natural constitution of things Those who use cords to bind and glue to pie
ce together interfere with the natural

character of things.  Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hamperi
ng it with ceremonies and music and

affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature.  There is
an original nature in things.  Things in their

original nature are curved without the help of arcs, straight without line
s, round without compasses, and rectangular

without squares; they are joined together without glue.  and hold together
 without cords.  In this manner all things

live and grow from an inner urge and none can tell how they come to do so.
  They all have a place in the scheme of

things and none can tell how they come to have their proper place.  From t
ime immemorial this has always been so,

and it may not be tampered with.  Why then should the doctrines of charity
 and duty continue to remain like so

much glue or cords, in the domain of Tao and virtue, to give rise to confu
sion and doubt among mankind?  Now the

lesser doubts change man's purpose, and the greater doubts change man's na
ture. How do we know this?  Ever since

the time when Shun made a bid for charity and duty and threw the world int
o confusion, men have run about and

exhausted themselves in the pursuit thereof.  Is it not then charity and d
uty which have changed the nature of man?

Therefore I have tried to show <<42>>  that from the time of the Three Dyn
asties onwards, there is not one who has

not changed his nature through certain external things.  If a common man,
he will die for gain.  If a scholar, he will

die for fame.  If a ruler of a township, he will die for his ancestral hon
ors.  If a Sage, he will die for the world.  The

pursuits and ambitions of these men differ, but the injury to their nature
 resulting in the sacrifice of their lives is the

same.  Tsang and Ku were shepherds, and both lost their sheep.  On inquiry
 it appeared that Tsang had been engaged

in reading with a shepherd's stick under his arm, while Ku had gone to tak
e part in some trials of strength. Their

pursuits were different, but the result in each case was the loss of the s
heep.  Po Yi died for fame at the foot of

Mount Shouyang. <<43>> Robber Cheh died for gain on the Mount Tungling.  T
hey died for different reasons, but

the injury to their lives and nature was in each case the same.  Why then
must we applaud the former and blame the

latter?  All men die for something, and yet if a man dies for charity and
duty the world calls him a gentleman; but if

he dies for gain, the world calls him a low fellow.  The dying being the s

ame, one is nevertheless called a gentleman

and the other called a low character.  But in point of injury to their liv
es and nature, Robber Cheh was just another

Po Yi.  Of what use then is the distinction of 'gentleman' and 'low fellow
' between them?  Besides, were a man to

apply himself to charity and duty until he were the equal of Tseng or Shih
, I would not call it good.  Or to savors,

until he were the equal of Shu Erh (famous cook), I would not call it good
.  Or to sound, until he were the equal of

Shih K'uang, I would not call it good.  Or to colors, until he were the eq
ual of Li Chu, I would not call it good.  What

I call good is not what is meant by charity and duty, but taking good care
 of virtue.  And what I call good is not the

so-called charity and duty, but following the nature of life.  What I call
 good at hearing is not hearing others but

hearing oneself.  What I call good at vision is not seeing others but seei
ng oneself.  For a man who sees not himself

but others, or takes possession not of himself but of others, possessing o
nly what others possess and possessing not

his own self, does what pleases others instead of pleasing his own nature.
  Now one who pleases others, instead of

pleasing one's own nature, whether he be Robber Cheh or Po Yi, is just ano
ther one gone astray. Conscious of my

own deficiencies in regard to Tao, I do not venture to practise the princi
ples of charity and duty on the one hand, nor

to lead the life of extravagance on the other.




        Horses have hooves to carry them over frost and snow, and hair to
protect them from wind and cold.  They eat

grass and drink water, and fling up their tails and gallop.  Such is the r
eal nature of horses.  Ceremonial halls and big

dwellings are of no use to them.  One day Polo (famous horse-trainer), <<4
4>> appeared, saying, "I am good at

managing horses."  So he burned their hair and clipped them, and pared the
ir hooves and branded them.  He put

halters around their necks and shackles around their legs and numbered the
m according to their stables.  The result

was that two or three in every ten died.  Then he kept them hungry and thi
rsty, trotting them and galloping them, and

taught them to run in formations, with the misery of the tasselled bridle
in front and the fear of the knotted whip

behind, until more than half of them died.  The potter says, "I am good at
 managing clay.  If I want it round, I use

compasses; if rectangular, a square."  The carpenter says, "I am good at m
anaging wood.  If I want it curved, I use an

arc; if straight, a line."  But on what grounds can we think that the natu
re of clay and wood desires this application of

compasses and square, and arc and line?  Nevertheless, every age extols Po
lo for his skill in training horses, and

potters and carpenters for their skill with clay and wood.  Those who mana
ge (govern) the affairs of the empire make

the same mistake.  I think one who knows how to govern the empire should n
ot do so.  For the people have certain

natural instincts --to weave and clothe themselves, to till the fields and
 feed themselves.  This is their common

character, in which all share.  Such instincts may be called "Heaven born.
"  So in the days of perfect nature, men

were quiet in their movements and serene in their looks.  At that time, th
ere were no paths over mountains, no boats

or bridges over waters.  All things were produced each in its natural dist
rict.  Birds and beasts multiplied; trees and

shrubs thrived.  Thus it was that birds and beasts could be led by the han
d, and one could climb up and peep into the

magpie's nest.  For in the days of perfect nature, man lived together with
 birds and beasts, and there was no

distinction of their kind.  Who could know of the distinctions between gen
tlemen and common people?  Being all

equally without knowledge, their virtue could not go astray.  Being all eq
ually without desires, they were in a state of

natural integrity.  In this state of natural integrity, the people did not
 lose their (original) nature.  And then when

Sages appeared, crawling for charity and limping with duty, doubt and conf
usion entered men's minds.  They said

they must make merry by means of music and enforce distinctions by means o
f ceremony, and the empire became

divided against itself.  Were the uncarved wood not cut up, who could make
 sacrificial vessels?  Were white jade left

uncut, who could make the regalia of courts?  Were Tao and virtue not dest
royed, what use would there be for

charity and duty?  Were men's natural instincts not lost, what need would
there be for music and ceremonies?  Were

the five colors not confused, who would need decorations?  Were the five n
otes not confused, who would adopt the

six pitch-pipes?  Destruction of the natural integrity of things for the p
roduction of articles of various kinds --this is

the fault of the artisan.  Destruction of Tao and virtue in order to intro
duce charity and duty --this is the error of the

Sages.  Horses live on dry land, eat grass and drink water.  When pleased,
 they rub their necks together.  When

angry, they turn round and kick up their heels at each other.  Thus far on
ly do their natural instincts carry them.  But

bridled and bitted, with a moon-shaped metal plate on their foreheads, the
y learn to cast vicious looks, to turn their

heads to bite, to nudge at the yoke, to cheat the bit

        out of their mouths or steal the bridle off their heads.  Thus the
ir minds and gestures become like those of

thieves.  This is the fault of Polo.  In the days of Ho Hsu: <<45>> , the
people did nothing in particular at their homes

and went nowhere in particular in their walks.  Having food, they rejoiced
; tapping their bellies, they wandered

about.  Thus far the natural capacities of the people carried them.  The S
ages came then to make them bow and bend

with ceremonies and music, in order to regulate the external forms of inte
rcourse, and dangled charity and duty

before them, in order to keep their minds in submission.  Then the people
began to labor and develop a taste for

knowledge, and to struggle with one another in their desire for gain, to w
hich there is no end.  This is the error of the





        the precautions taken against thieves who open trunks, search bags
, or ransack tills, consist in securing with cords

and fastening with bolts and locks.  This is what the world calls wit.  Bu
t a strong thief comes and carries off the till

on his shoulders, with box and bag, and runs away with them.  His only fea
r is that the cords and locks should not

be strong enough! Therefore, does not what the world used to call wit simp
ly amount to saving up for the strong

thief?  And I venture to state that nothing of that which the world calls
wit is otherwise than saving up for strong

thieves; and nothing of that which the world calls sage wisdom is other th
an hoarding up for strong thieves.  How

can this be shown?  In the State of Ch'i, the neighboring towns overlooked
 one another and one could hear the

barking of dogs and crowing of cocks in the neighboring town. Fishermen ca
st their nets and ploughmen ploughed

the land in a territory of over two thousand li.  Within its four boundari
es, was there a temple or shrine dedicated, a

god worshipped, or a hamlet, county or a district governed, but in accorda
nce with the rules laid down by the Sages?

Yet one morning <<46>>   T'ien Ch'engtse slew the ruler of Ch'i, and stole
 his kingdom.  And not his kingdom only,

but the wisdom-tricks which he had got from the Sages as well, so that alt
hough T'ien Ch'engtse acquired the

reputation of a thief, he lived as securely and comfortably as ever did ei
ther Yao or Shun.  The small States did not

venture to blame, nor the great States to punish him, and for twelve gener
ations his descendants ruled over Ch'i.

<<47>>  Was this not a stealing the State of Ch'i and its wisdom-tricks of
 the Sages in order to preserve their thieves'

lives?  I venture to ask, was there ever anything of what the world esteem
s as great wit otherwise than saving up for

strong thieves, and was there ever anything of what the world calls sage w
isdom other than hoarding up for strong


        How can this be shown?  Of old, Lungfeng was beheaded, Pikan was d
isemboweled, Changhung was sliced to

death, Tsehsu: was thrown to the waves.  All these four were learned ones,
 but they could not preserve themselves

from death by punishment.

        An apprentice to Robber Cheh asked him saying, "Is there then Tao
(moral principles) among thieves?"

        "Tell me if there is anything in which there is not Tao," Cheh rep

        "There is the sage character of thieves by which booty is located,
 the courage to go in first, and the chivalry of

coming out last.  There is the wisdom of calculating success, and kindness
 in the equal division of the spoil.  There

has never yet been a great robber who was not possessed of these five qual
ities."  It is seen therefore that without the

teachings of the Sages, good men could not keep their position, and withou
t the teachings of the Sages, Robber

Cheh could not accomplish his ends.  Since good men are scarce and bad men
 are the majority, the good the Sages

do to the world is little and the evil great.  Therefore it has been said
"If the lips are turned up, the teeth will be cold.

It was the thinness of the wines of Lu which caused the siege of Hantan. <

        When the Sages arose, gangsters appeared. Overthrow the Sages and
set the gangsters free, and then will the

empire be in order.  When the stream ceases, the gully dries up, and when
the hill is levelled the chasm is filled.

When the Sages are dead, gangsters will not show up, but the empire will r
est in peace.  On the other hand, if the

Sages do not pop off neither will the gangsters drop off.  Nor if you doub
le the number of Sages wherewith to

govern the empire will you do more than double the profits of Robber Cheh.

        If pecks and bushels are used for measurement, the pecks and bushe
ls themselves will also be stolen, along with

the rice.  If scales and steel yards are used for weighing, the scales and
 steel yards themselves will also be stolen

along with the goods.  If tallies and signets are used for good faith, the
 tallies and signets will also be stolen.  If

charity and duty are used for moral principles, charity and duty will also
 be stolen.  How is this so?  Steal a hook and

you hang as a crook; steal a kingdom and you are made a duke.  (The teachi
ngs of) charity and duty remain in the

duke's domain.  Is it not true, then, that they are thieves of charity and
 duty and of the wisdom of the Sages?

        So it is that those who follow the way of brigandage are promoted
into princes and dukes.  Those who are bent

on stealing charity and duty together with the measures, scales, tallies,
and signets can be dissuaded by no rewards

of official regalia and uniform, nor deterred by fear of sharp instruments
 of punishment.  This doubling the profits of

robbers like Cheh, making it impossible to get rid of them, is the fault o
f the Sages.

        Therefore it has been said, "Fishes must be left in the water; the
 sharp weapons of a state must be left where none

can see them." <<49>> These Sages are the sharp weapons of the world; they
 must not be shown to the world.

        Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, <<50>>  and gangsters will stop!
 Fling away jade and destroy pearls, and

petty thieves will cease.  Burn tallies and break signets, and the people
will revert to their uncouth integrity.  Split

measures and smash scales, and the people will not fight over quantities.
Trample down all the institutions of Sages,

and the people will begin to be fit for discussing (Tao).  Confuse the six
 pitch-pipes, confine lutes and stringed

instruments to the flames, stuff up the ears of Blind Shih K'uang, and eac
h man will keep his own sense of hearing.

Put an end to decorations, confuse the five colors, glue up the eyes of Li
 Chu, and each man will keep his own sense

of sight.  Destroy arcs and lines, fling away squares and compasses, snap
off the fingers of Ch'ui the Artisan, and

each man will use his own natural skill.  Wherefore the saying, "Great ski
ll appears like clumsiness." <<5l>>  Cut

down the activities of Tseng and Shih <<52>>  pinch the mouths of Yang Chu
 and Motse, discard charity and duty,

and the virtue of the people will arrive at Mystic Unity. <<53>>

        If each man keeps his own sense of sight, the world will escape be
ing burned up.  If each man keeps his own

sense of hearing, the world will escape entanglements.  If each man keeps
his intelligence, the world will escape

confusion.  If each man keeps his own virtue, the world will avoid deviati
on from the true path.  Tseng, Shih, Yang,

Mo, Shih K'uang, Ch'ui, and Li Chu were all persons who developed their ex
ternal character and involved the world

in the present confusion so that the laws and statutes are of no avail.  H
ave you never heard of the Age of Perfect

Nature?  In the days of

        Yungch'eng, Tat'ing, Pohuang, Chungyang, Lilu, Lihsu:, Hsienyu:an,
 Hohsu:, Tsunlu, Chuyung, Fuhsi, and

Shennung, <<54>> the people tied knots for reckoning. They enjoyed their f
ood, beautified their clothing, were

satisfied with their homes, and delighted in their customs.  Neighboring s
ettlements overlooked one another, so that

they could hear the barking of dogs and crowing of cocks of their neighbor
s, and the people till the end of their days

had never been outside their own country.<<55>>  In those days there was i
ndeed perfect peace.

        But nowadays any one can make the people strain their necks and st
and on tiptoes by saying, "In such and such

a place there is a Sage."  Immediately they put together a few provisions
and hurry off, neglecting their parents at

home and their masters' business abroad, going on foot through the territo
ries of the Princes, and riding to hundreds

of miles away.  Such is the evil effect of the rulers' desire for knowledg
e When the rulers desire knowledge and

neglect Tao, the empire is overwhelmed with confusion.

        How can this be shown?  When the knowledge of bows and cross-bows
and hand-nets and tailed arrows

increases, then they carry confusion among the birds of the air.  When the
 knowledge of hooks and bait and nets and

traps increases, then they carry confusion among the fishes of the deep.
When the knowledge of fences and nets

and snares increases, then they carry confusion among the beasts of the fi
eld.  When cunning and deceit and

flippancy and the sophistries of the "hard" and white' and identities and
differences increase in number and variety,

then they overwhelm the world with logic.

        Therefore it is that there is often chaos in the world, and the lo
ve of knowledge is ever at the bottom of it.  For all

men strive to grasp what they do not know, while none strive to grasp what
 they already know; and all strive to

discredit what they do not excel in, while none strive to discredit what t
hey do excel in.  That is why there is chaos.

Thus, above, the splendor of the heavenly bodies is dimmed; below, the pow

er of land and water is burned up, while

in between the influence of the four seasons is upset.  There is not one t
iny worm that moves on earth or insect that

flies in the air but has lost its original nature.  Such indeed is the wor
ld chaos caused by the desire for knowledge!

Ever since the time of the Three Dynasties downwards, it has been like thi
s.  The simple and the guileless have been

set aside; the specious and the cunning have been exalted.  Tranquil inact
ion has given place to love of disputation;

and disputation alone is enough to bring chaos upon the world.




        THERE HAS BEEN such a thing as letting mankind alone and tolerance
; there has never been such a thing as

governing mankind.  Letting alone Springs from the fear lest men's natural
 dispositions be perverted and tolerance

springs from the fear lest their character be corrupted.  But if their nat
ural dispositions be not perverted, nor their

character corrupted, what need is there left for government?

        Of old, when Yao governed the empire, he made the people live happ
ily; consequently the people struggled to be

happy and became restless.  When Chieh governed the empire he made the peo
ple live miserably; consequently the

people regarded life as a burden and were discontented.  Restlessness and
discontent are subversive of virtue; and

without virtue there has never been such a thing as stability.

        When man rejoices greatly, he gravitates towards yang (the positiv
e pole).  When he is in great anger, he

gravitates towards yin (the negative pole).  If the equilibrium of positiv
e and negative is disturbed, the four seasons

are upset, and the balance of heat and cold is destroyed, man himself suff
ers physically thereby.  It causes men to

rejoice and sorrow inordinately, to live disorderly lives, to be vexed in
their thoughts, and to lose their balance and

form of conduct.  When that happens, then the whole world seethes with rev
olt and discontent, and we have such

men as Robber Cheh, Tseng, and Shih.  Offer the entire world as rewards fo
r the good or threaten the wicked with

the dire punishments of the entire world, and it is still insufficient (to
 reform them).  Consequently, with the entire

world, one cannot furnish sufficient inducements or deterrents to action.
 From the Three Dynasties downwards, the

world has lived in a helter-skelter of promotions and punishments.  What c
hance have the people left for living the

even tenor of their lives?

        Besides, love (over-refinement) of vision leads to debauchery in c
olor; love of hearing leads to debauchery in

sound; love of charity leads to confusion in virtue; love of duty leads to
 perversion of principles; love of ceremonies

(li) leads to a common fashion for technical skill; love of music leads to
 common lewdness of thought; love of

wisdom leads to a fashion for the arts; and love of knowledge leads to a f
ashion for criticism If the people are

allowed to live out the even tenor of their lives, the above eight may or
may not be; it matters not.  But if the people

are not allowed to live out the even tenor of their lives, then these eigh
t cause discontent and contention and strife,

and throw the world into chaos.

        Yet the world worships and cherishes them.  Indeed deep-seated is
the mental chaos of the world.  Is it merely a

passing mistake that can be simply removed?  Yet they observe fasts before
 their discussion, bend down on their

knees to practise them, and sing and beat the drum and dance to celebrate
them.  What can I do about it?

        Therefore, when a gentleman is unavoidably compelled to take charg
e of the government of the empire, there is

nothing better than inaction (letting alone).  By means of inaction only c
an he allow the people to live out the even

tenor of their lives.  Therefore he who values the world as his own self m
ay then be entrusted with the government of

the world and he who loves the world as his own self may then be entrusted
 with the care of the world.<<56>>

Therefore if the gentleman can refrain from disturbing the internal econom
y of man, and from glorifying the powers

of sight and hearing, he can sit still like a corpse or spring into action
 like a dragon, be silent as the deep or talk with

the voice of thunder, the movements of his spirit calling forth the natura
l mechanism of Heaven.  He can remain

calm and leisurely doing nothing, while all things are brought to maturity
 and thrive.  What need then would have I

to set about governing the world?

        Ts'ui Chu: asked Lao Tan <<57>> , saying, "If the empire is not to
 be governed, how are men's hearts to be kept


        "Be careful," replied Lao Tan, "not to interfere with the natural
goodness of the heart of man.  Man's heart may

be forced down or stirred up.  In each case the issue is fatal.  By gentle
ness, the hardest heart may be softened.  But

try to cut and polish it, and it will glow like fire or freeze like ice.
In the twinkling of an eye it will pass beyond the

limits of the Four Seas.  In repose, it is profoundly still; in motion, it
 flies up to the sky.  Like an unruly horse, it

cannot be held in check.  Such is the human heart."

        Of old, the Yellow Emperor first interfered with the natural goodn
ess of the heart of man, by means of charity

and duty.  In consequence, Yao and Shun wore the hair off their legs and t
he flesh off their arms in endeavoring to

feed their people's bodies. They tortured the people's internal economy in
 order to conform to charity and duty.

They exhausted the people's energies to live in accordance with the laws a
nd statutes.  Even then they did not

succeed.  Thereupon, Yao (had to) confine Huantou on Mount Ts'ung, exile t
he chiefs of the Three Miaos and their

people into the Three Weis, and banish the Minister of Works to Yutu, whic
h shows he had not succeeded.  When it

came to the times of the Three Kings,<<58>> the empire was in a state of f
oment.  Among the bad men were Chieh

and Cheh; among the good were Tseng and Shih.  By and by, the Confucianist
s and the Motseanists arose; and then

came confusion between joy and anger, fraud between the simple and the cun
ning, recrimination between the

virtuous and the evil-minded, slander between the honest and the liars, an
d the world order collapsed.  Then the great

virtue lost its unity, men's lives were frustrated.  When there was a gene
ral rush for knowledge, the people's desires

ever went beyond their possessions.  The next thing was then to invent axe
s and saws, to kill by laws and statutes, to

disfigure by chisels and awls.  The empire seethed with discontent, the bl
ame for which rests upon those who would

interfere with the natural goodness of the heart of man.

        In consequence, virtuous men sought refuge in mountain caves, whil
e rulers of great states sat trembling in their

ancestral halls.  Then, when dead men lay about pillowed on each other's c
orpses, when cangued prisoners jostled

each other in crowds and condemned criminals were seen everywhere, then th
e Confucianists and the Motseanists

bustled about and rolled up their sleeves in the midst of gyves and fetter
s! Alas, they know not shame, nor what it is

to blush!

        Until I can say that the wisdom of Sages is not a fastener of cang
ues, and that charity of heart and duty to one's

neighbor are not bolts for gyves, how should I know that Tseng and Shih we
re not the singing arrows <<59>>

(forerunners) of (the gangsters) Chieh and Cheh?  Therefore it is said, "A
bandon wisdom and discard knowledge,

and the empire will be at peace."

        The Yellow Emperor sat on the throne for nineteen years, and his l
aws obtained all over the empire.  Hearing that

Kuangch'engtse was living on Mount K'ungt'ung, he went there to see him, a
nd said, "I am told that you are in

possession of perfect Tao. May I ask what is the essence of this perfect T
ao?  I desire to obtain the essence of the

universe to secure good harvests and feed my people.  I should like also t
o control the yin and yang principles to

fulfil the life of all living things."

        "What you are asking about," replied Kuangch'engtse, "is merely th
e dregs of things.  What you wish to control

are the disintegrated factors thereof.  Ever since the empire was governed
 by you, the clouds have rained before

thickening, the foliage of trees has fallen before turning yellow, and the
 brightness of the sun and moon has

increasingly paled.  You have the shallowness of mind of a glib talker.  H
ow then are you fit to speak of perfect


        The Yellow Emperor withdrew. He resigned the Throne.  He built him
self a solitary hut, and sat upon white

straw.  For three months he remained in seclusion, and then went again to
see Kuangch'engtse.

        The latter was lying with his head towards the south.  The Yellow
Emperor approached from below upon his

knees.  Kowtowing twice upon the ground, he said, "I am told that you are
in possession of perfect Tao.  May I ask

how to order one's life so that one may have long life?"

        Kuangch'engtse jumped up with a start.  "A good question indeed!"
cried he.  "Come, and I will speak to you of

perfect Tao.  The essence of perfect Tao is profoundly mysterious; its ext
ent is lost in obscurity.  "See nothing; hear

nothing; guard your spirit in quietude and your body will go right of its
own accord.

        "Be quiet, be pure; toil not your body, perturb not your vital ess
ence, and you will live for ever.

        "For if the eye sees nothing, and the ear hears nothing, and the m
ind thinks nothing, your spirit will stay in your

body, and the body will thereby live for ever.

        "Cherish that which is within you, and shut off that which is with
out for much knowledge is a curse.

        "Then I will take you to that abode of Great Light to reach the Pl
ateau of Absolute Yang.  I will lead you through

the Door of the Dark Unknown to the Plateau of the Absolute Yin.

        "The Heaven and Earth have their separate functions.  The yin and
yang have their hidden root.  Guard carefully

your body, and material things will prosper by themselves.

        "I guard the original One, and rest in harmony with externals.  Th
erefore I have been able to live for twelve

hundred years and my body has not grown old."

        The Yellow Emperor kowtowed twice and said, "Kuangch'engtse is sur
ely God.

        "Come," said Kuangch'engtse, "I will tell you.  That thing is eter
nal; yet all men think it mortal.  That thing is

infinite; yet all men think it finite.  Those who possess my Tao are princ
es in this life and rulers in the hereafter.

Those who do not possess my Tao behold the light of day in this life and b
ecome clods of earth in the hereafter.

        "Nowadays, all living things spring from the dust and to the dust
return.  But I will lead you through the portals

of Eternity to wander in the great wilds of Infinity.  My light is the lig
ht of sun and moon.  My life is the life of

Heaven and Earth.  Before me all is nebulous; behind me all is dark, unkno
wn.  Men may all die, but I endure for


        When General Clouds was going eastwards, he passed through the bra
nches of Fuyao (a magic tree) and

happened to meet Great Nebulous. The latter was slapping his thighs and ho
pping about.  When General Clouds saw

him, he stopped like one lost and stood still, saying, "Who are you, old m
an, and what are you doing here?"

        "Strolling!" replied Great Nebulous, still slapping his thighs and
 hopping about.

        "I want to ask about something," said General Clouds.

        "Ough!" uttered Great Nebulous.

        "The spirits of Heaven are out of harmony," said General Clouds; "
the spirits of the Earth are smothered; the six

influences <<61>>   of the weather do not work together, and the four seas
ons are no longer regular.  I desire to

blend the essence of the six influences and nourish all living beings.  Wh
at am I to do?"

        "I do not know! I do not know!" cried Great Nebulous, shaking his
head, while still slapping his thighs and

hopping about.

        So General Clouds did not press his question.  Three years later,
when passing eastwards through the plains of

the Sungs, he again fell in with Great Nebulous.  The former was overjoyed
, and hurrying up, said, "Has your

Holiness <<62>>  forgotten me? Has your Holiness forgotten me?"   He then
kowtowed twice and desired to be

allowed to interrogate Great Nebulous; but the latter said, "I wander on w
ithout knowing what I want.  I rush about

without knowing whither I am going.  I simply stroll about, watching unexp
ected events.  What should I know?"

        "I too regard myself as rushing about," answered General Clouds; "
but the people follow my movements.  I

cannot escape the people and what I do they follow.  I would gladly receiv
e some advice."

        "That the scheme of empire is in confusion," said Great Nebulous,
"that the conditions of life are violated, that

the will of the Dark Heaven is not accomplished, that the beasts of the fi
eld are scattered, that the birds of the air cry

at night, that blight strikes the trees and herbs, that destruction spread
s among the creeping things, --this, alas! is the

fault of those who would rule others."

        "True," replied General Clouds, "but what am I to do?"

        "Ah!" cried Great Nebulous, "keep quiet and go home in peace!"

        "It is not often," urged General Clouds, "that I meet with your Ho
liness.  I would gladly receive some advice."

        "Ah," said Great Nebulous, "nourish your heart.  Rest in inaction,
 and the world will be reformed of itself. Forget

your body and spit forth intelligence.  Ignore all differences and become
one with the Infinite.  Release your mind,

and free your spirit.  Be vacuous, be devoid of soul.  Thus will things gr
ow and prosper and return to their Root.

Returning to their Root without their knowing it, the result will be a for
mless whole which will never be cut up.  To

know it is to cut it up.  Ask not about its name, inquire not into its nat
ure, and all things will flourish of themselves."

        "Your Holiness," said General Clouds, "has informed me with power
and taught me silence.  What I had long

sought, I have now found."  Thereupon he kowtowed twice and took leave.

        The people of this world all rejoice in others being like themselv
es, and object to others being different from

themselves.  Those who make friends with their likes and do not make frien
ds with their unlikes, are influenced by a

desire to be above the others.  But how can those who desire to be above t
he others ever be above the others?

Rather than base one's Judgment on the opinions of the many, let each look
 after his own affairs.  But those who

desire to govern kingdoms clutch at the advantages of (the systems of) the
 Three Kings <<63>>  without seeing the

troubles involved.  In fact, they are trusting the fortunes of a country t
o luck, but what country will be lucky enough

to escape destruction?  Their chances of preserving it do not amount to on
e in ten thousand, while their chances of

destroying it are ten thousand to nothing and even more.  Such, alas! is t
he ignorance of rulers.

        For to have a territory is to have something great.  He who has so
me thing great must not regard the material

things as material things.  Only by not regarding material things as mater
ial things can one be the lord of things. The

principle of looking at material things as not real things is not confined
 to mere government of the empire.  Such a

one may wander at will between the six limits of space or travel over the
Nine Continents unhampered and free.

This is to be the Unique One.  The Unique One is the highest among men.

        The doctrine of the great man is (fluid) as shadow to form, as ech
o to sound.  Ask and it responds, fulfilling its

abilities as the help-mate of humanity.  Noiseless in repose, objectless i
n motion, he brings you out of the confusion

of your coming and going to wander in the Infinite.  Formless in his movem
ents, he is eternal with the sun.  In

respect of his bodily existence, he conforms to the universal standards. T
hrough conformance to the universal

standards, he forgets his own individuality.  But if he forgets his indivi
duality, how can he regard his possessions as

possessions?  Those who see possessions in possessions were the wise men o
f old.  Those who regard not

possessions as possessions are the friends of Heaven and Earth.

        That which is low, but must be let alone, is matter.  That which i
s humble, but still must be followed, is the

people.  That which is always there but still has to be attended to, is af
fairs.  That which is inadequate, but still has to

be set forth, is the law.  That which is remote from Tao, but still claims
 our attention, is duty.  That which is biassed,

but must be broadened, is charity.  Trivial, but requiring to be strengthe
ned from within, that is ceremony.

Contained within, but requiring to be uplifted, that is virtue.  One, but
not to be without modification, that is Tao.

Spiritual, yet not to be devoid of action, that is God.  Therefore the Sag
e looks up to God, but does not offer to aid.

He perfects his virtue, but does not involve himself.  He guides himself b
y Tao, but makes no plans.  He identifies

himself with charity, but does not rely on it.  He performs his duties tow
ards his neighbors, but does not set store by

them.  He responds to ceremony, without avoiding it.  He undertakes affair
s without declining them, and metes out

law without confusion.  He relies on the people and does not make light of
 them.  He accommodates himself to

matter and does not ignore it.  Things are not worth attending to, yet the
y have to be attended to.  He who does not

understand God will not be pure in character.  He who has not clear appreh
ension of Tao will not know where to

begin.  And he who is not enlightened by Tao,  --alas indeed for him!   Wh
at then is Tao?  There is the Tao of God,

and there is the Tao of man.  Honour through inaction comes from the Tao o
f God: entanglement through action

comes from the Tao of man.  The Tao of God is fundamental: the Tao of man
is accidental.  The distance which

separates them is great.  Let us all take heed thereto!


        AUTUMN FLOODS <<64>>


        In the time of autumn floods, a hundred streams poured into the ri
ver.  It swelled in its turbid course, so that it

was impossible to tell a cow from a horse on the opposite banks or on the
islets.  Then the Spirit of the River laughed

for joy that all the beauty of the earth was gathered to himself.  Down th
e stream he journeyed east, until he reached

the North Sea.  There, looking eastwards and seeing no limit to its wide e
xpanse, his countenance began to change.

And as he gazed over the ocean, he sighed and said to North-Sea Jo, "A vul
gar proverb says that he who has heard a

great many truths thinks no one equal to himself.  And such a one am I.  F
ormerly when I heard people detracting

from the learning of Confucius or underrating the heroism of Po Yi, I did
not believe it.  But now that I have looked

upon your inexhaustibility --alas for me ! had I not reached your abode, I
 should have been for ever a laughing stock

to those of great enlightenment!"

        To this North-Sea Jo (the Spirit of the Ocean) replied, "You canno
t speak of ocean to a well-frog, which is limited

by his abode.  You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, which is limite
d by his short life.  You cannot speak of

Tao to a pedagogue, who is limited in his knowledge.  But now that you hav
e emerged from your narrow sphere and

have seen the great ocean, you know your own insignificance, and I can spe
ak to you of great principles.

        "There is no body of water beneath the canopy of heaven which is g
reater than the ocean.  All streams pour into

it without cease, yet it does not overflow.  It is being continually drain
ed off at the Tail-Gate <<65>>  yet it is never

empty.  Spring and autumn bring no change; floods and droughts are equally
 unknown.  And thus it is

immeasurably superior to mere rivers and streams.  Yet I have never ventur
ed to boast on this account.  For I count

myself, among the things that take shape from the universe and receive lif
e from the yin and yang, but as a pebble or

a small tree on a vast mountain.  Only too conscious of my own insignifica
nce, how can I presume to boast of my


        "Are not the Four Seas to the universe but like ant-holes in a mar
sh?  Is not the Middle Kingdom to the

surrounding ocean like a tare-seed in a granary?  Of all the myriad create
d things, man is but one.  And of all those

who inhabit the Nine Continents, live on the fruit of the earth, and move
about in cart and boat, an individual man is

but one.  Is not he, as compared with all creation, but as the tip of a ha
ir upon a horse's body?

        "The succession of the Five Rulers <<66>> , the contentions of the
 Three Kings, the concerns of the kind-

hearted, the labors of the administrators, are but this and nothing more.
 Po Yi refused the throne for fame.  Chungni

(Confucius) discoursed to get a reputation for learning.  This over-estima
tion of self on their part --was it not very

much like your own previous self-estimation in reference to water?"

        "Very well," replied the Spirit of the River, "am I then to regard
 the universe as great and the tip of a hair as


        "Not at all," said the Spirit of the Ocean.  "Dimensions are limit
less; time is endless.  Conditions are not constant;

terms are not final.  Thus, the wise man looks into space, and does not re
gard the small as too little, nor the great as

too much; for he knows that there is no limit to dimensions.  He looks bac
k into the past, and does not grieve over

what is far off, nor rejoice over what is near; for he knows that time is
without end.  He investigates fullness and

decay, and therefore does not rejoice if he succeeds, nor lament if he fai
ls; for he knows that conditions are not

constant.  He who clearly apprehends the scheme of existence does not rejo
ice over life, nor repine at death; for he

knows that terms are not final.

        "What man knows is not to be compared with what he does not know.
The span of his existence is not to be

compared with the span of his non-existence.  To strive to exhaust the inf
inite by means of the infinitesimal

necessarily lands him in confusion and unhappiness.  How then should one b
e able to say that the tip of a hair is the

ne plus ultra of smallness, or that the universe is the ne plus ultra of g

        "Dialecticians of the day," replied the Spirit of the River, "all
say that the infinitesimal has no form, and that the

infinite is beyond all measurement.  Is that true?"

        "If we look at the great from the standpoint of the small," said t
he Spirit of the Ocean, "we cannot reach its limit;

and if we look at the small from the standpoint of the great, it eludes ou
r sight.  The infinitesimal is a subdivision of

the small; the colossal is an extension of the great.  In this sense the t
wo fall into different categories.  This lies in the

nature of circumstances.  Now smallness and greatness presuppose form.  Th
at which is without form cannot be

divided by numbers, and that which is above measurement cannot be measured
.  The greatness of anything may be a

topic of discussion, and the smallness of anything may be mentally imagine
d.  But that which can be neither a topic

of discussion nor imagined mentally cannot be said to have greatness or sm

        "Therefore, the truly great man does not injure others and does no
t credit himself with charity and mercy.  He

seeks not gain, but does not despise the servants who do.  He struggles no
t for wealth, but does not lay great value

on his modesty.  He asks for help from no man, but is not proud of his sel
f-reliance, neither does he despise the

greedy.  He acts differently from the vulgar crowd, but does not place hig
h value on being different or eccentric; nor

because he acts with the majority does he despise those that flatter a few
.  The ranks and emoluments of the world

are to him no cause for joy; its punishments and shame no cause for disgra
ce.  He knows that right and wrong

cannot be distinguished, that great and small cannot be defined.

        "I have heard say, 'The man of Tao has no (concern) reputation; th
e truly virtuous has no (concern for)

possessions; the truly great man ignores self.' This is the height of self

        "But how then," asked the Spirit of the River, "arise the distinct
ions of high and low, of great and small in the

material and immaterial aspects of things?"

        "From the point of view of Tao," replied the Spirit of the Ocean,
"there are no such distinctions of high and low.

>From the point of view of individuals, each holds himself high and holds
others low.  From the vulgar point of

view, high and low (honors and dishonor) are some thing conferred by other
s.  "In regard to distinctions, if we say

that a thing is great or small by its own standard of great or small, then
 there is nothing in all creation which is not

great, nothing which is not small.  To know that the universe is but as a
tare-seed, and the tip of a hair is (as big as) a

mountain, --this is the expression of relativity <<67>>

        "In regard to function, if we say that something exists or does no
t exist, by its own standard of existence or non-

existence, then there is nothing which does not exist, nothing which does
not perish from existence.  If we know that

east and west are convertible and yet necessary terms in relation to each
other, then such (relative) functions may be


        "In regard to man's desires or interests, if we say that anything
is good or bad because it is either good or bad

according to our individual (subjective) standards, then there is nothing
which is not good, nothing -- which is not

bad.  If we know that Yao and Chieh each regarded himself as good and the
other as bad, then the (direction of) their

interests becomes apparent.

        "Of old Yao and Shun abdicated (in favor of worthy successors) and
 the rule was maintained, while Kuei (Prince

of Yen) abdicated (in favor of Tsechih) and the latter failed.  T'ang and
Wu got the empire by fighting, while by

fighting, Po Kung lost it.  From this it may be seen that the value of abd
icating or fighting, of acting like Yao or like

Chieh, varies according to time, and may not be regarded as a constant pri
nciple.  "A battering-ram can knock down

a wall, but it cannot repair a breach.  Different things are differently a
pplied.  Ch'ichi and Hualiu (famous horses)

could travel 1,000 li in one day, but for catching rats they were not equa
l to a wild cat.  Different animals possess

different aptitudes.  An owl can catch fleas at night, and see the tip of
a hair, but if it comes out in the daytime it can

open wide its eyes and yet fail to see a mountain.  Different creatures ar
e differently constituted.

        "Thus, those who say that they would have right without its correl
ate, wrong; or good government without its

correlate, misrule, do not apprehend the great principles of the universe,
 nor the nature of all creation.  One might as

well talk of the existence of Heaven without that of Earth, or of the nega
tive principle without the positive, which is

clearly impossible.  Yet people keep on discussing it without stop; such p
eople must be either fools or knaves.

        "Rulers abdicated under different conditions, and the Three Dynast
ies succeeded each other under different

conditions.  Those who came at the wrong time and went against the tide ar
e called usurpers.  Those who came at the

right time and fitted in with their age are called defenders of Right.  Ho
ld your peace, Uncle River.  How can you

know the distinctions of high and low and of the houses of the great and s

        "In this case," replied the Spirit of the River, "what am I to do
about declining and accepting, following and

abandoning (courses of action)?"

        "From the point of view of Tao," said the Spirit of the Ocean.  "H
ow can we call this high and that low?  For there

is (the process of) reverse evolution (uniting opposites).  To follow one
absolute course would involve great

departure from Tao.  What is much?  What is little?  Be thankful for the g
ift.  To follow a one-sided opinion is to

diverge from Tao.  Be exalted, as the ruler of a State whose administratio
n is impartial.  Be at ease, as the Deity of the

Earth, whose dispensation is impartial.  Be expansive, like the points of
the compass, boundless without a limit.

Embrace all creation, and none shall be more sheltered or helped than anot
her.  This is to be without bias.  And all

things being equal, how can one say which is long and which is short?  Tao
 is without beginning, without end.  The

material things are born and die, and no credit is taken for their develop
ment.  Emptiness and fullness alternate, and

their relations are not fixed.  Past years cannot be recalled; time cannot
 be arrested.  The succession of growth and

decay, of increase and diminution, goes in a cycle, each end becoming a ne
w beginning.  In this sense only may we

discuss the ways of truth and the principles of the universe.  The life of
 things passes by like a rushing, galloping

horse, changing at every turn, at every hour.  What should one do, or what
 should one not do?  Let the (cycle of)

changes go on by themselves!"

        "If this is the case," said the Spirit of the River, "what is the
value of Tao?"

        "Those who understand Tao," answered the Spirit of the Ocean <<68>
>  "must necessarily apprehend the eternal

principles and those who apprehend the eternal principles must understand
their application.  Those who understand

their application do not suffer material things to injure them. "The man o
f perfect virtue cannot be burnt by fire, nor

drowned by water, nor hurt by the cold of winter or the heat of summer, no
r torn by bird or beast.  Not that he

makes light of these; but that he discriminates between safety and danger,
 is happy under prosperous and adverse

circumstances alike, and cautious in his choice of action, so that none ca
n harm him.

        "Therefore it has been said that Heaven (the natural) abides withi
n man (the artificial) without.  Virtue abides in

the natural.  Knowledge of the action of the natural and of the artificial
 has its basis in the natural its destination in

virtue.  Thus, whether moving forward or backwards whether yielding or ass
erting, there is always a reversion to the

essential and to the ultimate."

        "What do you mean," enquired the Spirit of the River, "by the natu
ral and the artificial?"

        "Horses and oxen," answered the Spirit of the Ocean, "have four fe
et.  That is the natural.  Put a halter on a

horse's head, a string through a bullock's nose.  That is the artificial.

        "Therefore it has been said, do not let the artificial obliterate
the natural; do not let will obliterate destiny; do not

let virtue be sacrificed to fame.  Diligently observe these precepts witho
ut fail, and thus you will revert to the True."

        The walrus <<69>> envies the centipede; the centipede envies the s
nake; the snake envies the wind; the wind

envies the eye; and the eye envies the mind.  The walrus said to the centi
pede, "I hop about on one leg but not very

successfully.  How do you manage all those legs you have?'

        "I don't manage them," replied the centipede.  "Have you never see
n saliva?  When it is ejected, the big drops are

the size of pearls, the small ones like mist.  At random they fall, in cou
ntless numbers.  So, too, does my natural

mechanism move, without my knowing how I do it."

        The centipede said to the snake, "With all my legs I do not move a
s fast as you with none.  How is that?"

        "One's natural mechanism," replied the snake, "is not a thing to b
e changed.  What need have I for legs?"

        The snake said to the wind, "I wriggle about by moving my spine, a
s if I had legs.  Now you seem to be without

form, and yet you come blustering down from the North Sea to bluster away
to the South Sea How do you do it?"

        "'Tis true," replied the wind, "that I bluster as you say.  But an
yone who sticks his finger or his foot into me,

excels me.  On the other hand, I can tear away huge trees and destroy larg
e buildings. This power is given only to

me.  Out of many minor defeats I win the big victory <<70>> .  And to win
a big victory is given only to the Sages."

        When Confucius visited K'uang, the men of Sung surrounded him by s
everal cordons.  Yet he went on singing to

his guitar without stop.  "How is it, Master," enquired Tselu, "that you a
re so cheerful?"

        "Come here," replied Confucius, "and I will tell you.  For a long
time I have not been willing to admit failure, but

in vain.  Fate is against me.  For a long time I have been seeking success
, but in vain.  The hour has not come.  In the

days of Yao and Shun, no man throughout the empire was a failure, though t
his was not due to their cleverness.  In

the days of Chieh and Chou, no man throughout the empire was a success, th
ough this was not due to their

stupidity.  The circumstances happened that way.

        "To travel by water without fear of sea-serpents and dragons, --th
is is the courage of the fisherman.  To travel by

land without fear of the wild buffaloes and tigers, --this is the courage
of hunters.  When bright blades cross, to look

on death as on life, --this is the courage of the warrior.  To know that f
ailure is fate and that success is opportunity,

and to remain fearless in times of great danger, --this is the courage of
the Sage.  Stop bustling, Yu!  My destiny is

controlled (by someone).

        Shortly afterwards, the captain of the troops came in and apologiz
ed, saying, "We thought you were Yang Hu;

that was why we surrounded you.  We find we have made a mistake." Whereupo
n he apologized and retired.

        Kungsun Lung <<71>>  said to Mou of Wei, "When young I studied the
 teachings of the elders.  When I grew

up, I understood the morals of charity and duty.  I learned to level toget
her similarities and differences, to confound

arguments on "hardness" and "whiteness", to affirm what others deny, and j
ustify what others dispute.  I vanquished

the wisdom of all the philosophers, and overcame the arguments of all peop
le.  I thought that I had indeed

understood everything.  But now that I have heard Chuangtse, I am lost in
astonishment.  I know not whether it is in

arguing or in knowledge that I am not equal to him.  I can no longer open
my mouth.  May I ask you to impart to me

the secret?"

        Prince Mou leaned over the table and sighed.  Then he looked up to
 heaven and laughed, saying, "Have you

never heard of the frog in the shallow well?  The frog said to the turtle
of the Eastern Sea, 'What a great time I am

having! I hop to the rail around the well, and retire to rest in the hollo
w of some broken bricks.  Swimming, I float on

my armpits, resting my jaws just above the water.  Plunging into the mud,
I bury my feet up to the foot-arch, and not

one of the cockles, crabs or tadpoles I see around me are my match. Beside
s, to occupy such a pool all alone and

possess a shallow well is to be as happy as anyone can be.  Why do you not
 come and pay me a visit?'

        "Now before the turtle of the Eastern Sea had got its left leg dow
n its right knee had already stuck fast, and it

shrank back and begged to be excused. It then told the frog about the sea,
 saying, 'A thousand li would not measure

its breadth, nor a thousand fathoms its depth.  In the days of the Great Y
u:, there were nine years of flood out of ten;

but this did not add to its bulk.  In the days of T'ang, there were seven
years of drought out of eight; but this did not

make its shores recede.  Not to be affected by the passing of time, and no
t to be affected by increase or decrease of

water, --such is the great happiness of the Eastern Sea.'  At this the fro
g of the shallow well was considerably

astonished and felt very small, like one lost.

        "For one whose knowledge does not yet appreciate the niceties of t
rue and false to attempt to understand

Chuangtse, is like a mosquito trying to carry a mountain, or an insect try
ing to swim a river.  Of course he will fail.

Moreover, one whose knowledge does not reach to the subtlest teachings, ye
t is satisfied with temporary success, --

is not he like the frog in the well?

        "Chuangtse is now climbing up from the realms below to reach high
heaven.  For him no north or south; lightly

the four points are gone, engulfed in the unfathomable.  For him no east o
r west- starting from the Mystic Unknown,

he returns to the Great Unity.  And yet you think you are going to find hi
s truth by dogged inquiries and arguments!

This is like looking at the sky through a tube, or pointing at the earth w
ith an awl.  Is not this being petty?

        "Have you never heard how a youth of Shouling went to study the wa
lking gait at Hantan? <<72>>   Before he

could learn the Hantan gait, he had forgotten his own way of walking, and
crawled back home on all fours.  If you do

not go away now, you will forget what you have and lose your own professio
nal knowledge."  Kungsun Lung's jaw

hung open, his tongue clave to his palate, and he slunk away.

        Chuangtse was fishing on the P'u River when the Prince of Ch'u sen
t two high officials to see him and said, "Our

Prince desires to burden you with the administration of the Ch'u State."
Chuangtse went on fishing without turning

his head and said, "I have heard that in Ch'u there is a sacred tortoise w
hich died when it was three thousand (years)

old.  The prince keeps this tortoise carefully enclosed in a chest in his
ancestral temple.  Now would this tortoise

rather be dead and have its remains venerated, or would it rather be alive
 and wagging its tail in the mud?"

        "It would rather be alive," replied the two officials, and wagging
 its tail in the mud."

        "Begone!" cried Chuangtse. "I too will wag my tail in the mud.

        Hueitse was Prime Minister in the Liang State, and Chuangtse was o
n his way to see him.  Someone remarked,

"Chuangtse has come.  He wants to be minister in your place."  Thereupon H
ueitse was afraid, and searched all over

the country for three days and three nights to find him.

        Then Chuangtse went to see him, and said, "In the south there is a
 bird.  It is a kind of phoenix.  Do you know it?

When it starts from the South Sea to fly to the North Sea, it would not al
ight except on the wu-t'ung tree.  It eats

nothing but the fruit of the bamboo, drinks nothing but the purest spring
water.  An owl which had got the rotten

carcass of a rat, looked up as the phoenix flew by, and screeched.  Are yo
u not screeching at me over your kingdom

of Liang?"

        Chuangtse and Hueitse had strolled on to the bridge over the Hao,
when the former observed, "See how the small

fish are darting about!  That is the happiness of the fish."

        "You not being a fish yourself," said Hueitse, "how can you know t
he happiness of the fish?"

        "And you not being I," retorted Chuangtse, "how can you know that
I do not know?"

        "If I, not being you, cannot know what you know," urged Hueitse, "
it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot

know the happiness of the fish."

        "Let us go back to your original question," said Chuangtse.  "You
asked me how I knew the happiness of the

fish.  Your very question shows that you knew that I knew.  I knew it (fro
m my own feelings) on this bridge."




1        He is reputed to have lived 800 years

2         1783 B.C.

3         Philosopher about whose life nothing is known. The book Liehtse
is considered a later compilation. See the

section "Parables of Ancient Philosophers."

4         The wind

5         2357 B.C.

6         Sage emperors

7         A sophist and friend of Chuangtse who often carried on debates w
ith him.

8        Agitations of the soul (music of Heaven) compared to the agitatio
ns of the forest (music of Earth).

9         Lit. "true lord"

10        Shih and fei mean general moral judgments and mental distinction
s; "right" and "wrong," "true" and "false," "is"

and "is not," "affirmative" and "negative," also "to justify" and "condemn
," "to affirm" and "deny."

11        The followers of Motse were powerful rivals of the Confucianists
 in Chuangtse's days.  See the selections from


12         The meaning of these two sentences is made clear by a line belo
w. "But if we put the different categories in

one. then the differences of category cease to exist."

13         Ch'eng and k'uei, lit. "whole" and "deficient."  "Wholeness" re
fers to unspoiled unity of Tao. In the following

sentences, ch'eng is used in the sense of "success " It is explained by co
mmentators that the "wholeness" of music

exists only in silence, and that as soon as one note is struck, other note
s are necessarily held in abeyance. The same

thing is true of arguments: when we argue, we necessarily cut up truth by
emphasizing certain aspects of it.

14        See Laotse, Ch. 42.

15        See Laotse, Ch. 5.

16        See Laotse, Ch. 58.

17        Lit.  in the "Palace of Heaven."

18         Personal name of Chuangtse. "tse" being the equivalent of "Mast

19        An important idea that recurs frequently in Chuangtse, all thing
s are in constant flow and change, bbt are

different aspects of the One.

20        Best disciple of Confucius.

21         Lit.  "regarded as sons (ie. fathered) by Heaven."

22        The first part of this song is found in the Analects.

23        This chapter deals entirely with deformitiesa literary device fo
r emphasizing the contrast of the inner and the

outer man.

24        A  well-known historical person, a model minister referred to in
 the Analects.

25         Lit.  "The outside of frame and bones.''

26        Hueitse often discusses the nature of attributes, like the "hard
ness" and "whiteness" of objects.

27        All of these historical and semi-historical persons were good me
n who lost their lives, by drowning or starving

themselves, or pretending insanity, in protest against a wicked world, or
just to avoid being called into office.

28        General attitude of fluidity towards life.

29        Mythical emperor (2852 B.C.) said to have discovered the princip
les of mutations of Yin and Yang.

30        With a man's head but a beast's body

31        A river spirit.

32        A mountain god

33        A semi-mythical ruler, who ruled in 2698-2597 B.C.

34        A semi-mythical ruler, who ruled in 25I4-2417 B.C., shortly befo
re Emperor Yao.

35        A water god with a human face and a bird's body.

36        A monarch of the Shang Dynasty, 1324-l266 B.C.100

37        A famous sword

38       Personal name of Confucius

39        Huang-chung and ta-lu: were the standard pitchpipes.

40        Tseng Ts'an and Shih Yu:, disciples of Confucius.

41        I Yang chu and Motse (Mo Ti).

42        Beginning with this phrase there is a marked change in style and
 vocabulary in this part.

43        Because he refused to serve the new dynasty.

44        Sun Yang, 658-619 B.C.

45        A mythical ruler

46        481 B.C.

47        There is an anachronism here for Chuangtse lived to see only the
 ninth generation of T'iens, At least the number

"twelve" must have been slipped in by a later scribe.  This evidence is no
t sufficient to vitiate the whole chapter, as

some "textual critics" claim.

48        Reference to a story.  The states Lu and Chao both presented win
e to the King of Ch'u.  By the trickery of a

servant, the flasks were exchanged, and Chao was blamed for presenting bad
 wine, and its city Hantan was beseiged.

49        See Laotse, Ch. 36

50        See Laotse, Ch. 19

51        See Laotse, Ch. 45

52        See Note 40

53        See Laotse, Ch. 1

54        All legendary ancient rulers

55        Cf. Laotse, Ch. 80

56        See Laotse, Ch. 13

57       Laotse, Tan being one of the personal names of Laotse (Li Tan, or
 Li Erh). "Lao" means "old," while "Li" is the

family name

58        The founders of the three dynasties, Hsia, Shang and Chou (2205-
222 B.C.)

59        Signal for attack

60        Lit. "Heaven"

61        Yin, yang, wind, rain, light and darkness.

62        Great Nebulous is here addressed as "Heaven." See Note 60

63        See Note 58

64        This chapter further develops the ideas in Chapter "On Levelling
 All Things" and contains the important

philosophical concept of relativity.

65       Wei-Lu:, a mythical hole in the bottom or end of the ocean

66        Mythical rulers before the Three Kings.

67        Lit. "levelling of ranks or distinctions."

68        From here on to the end of this paragraph, most of the passages
are rhymed.

69        K'uei, a mythical, one-legged animal.

70        Now a slogan used in China in the war against Japan.

71        A Neo-Motseanist (of the Sophist school) who lived after Chuangt
se.  This section must have been added by

the latter's disciples, as is easy to see from the three stones about Chua
ngtse which follow.

72        Capital of Chao.

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