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The Inner Chapters by Chuang Tzu
The Inner Chapter One:
Free and Easy Wandering
The Inner Chapter Two:
Theories on all things being equal
The Inner Chapter Three:
Opinions on Nurturing Life
The Inner Chapter Four:
Relating to the Human World
The Inner Chapter Five:
Calculations on Filfilling Virtue
The Inner Chapter Six:
Teachings from those who were Great who are no longer alive
The Inner Chapter Seven:
Responding to (Complying with) Emperors and Kings
Interpretations of The Inner Chapters
Interpretation of Chapter 1: Loosening the Bonds of our Fixed Preconceptions - The Tao Way Interpretation of Chapter 2: Overcome Dualism by Smoothing Things Out Interpretation of Chapter 3: Skills as Expression of Dao Interpretation of Chapter 4: Avoid Involvement in Society and its Conflicts - Stay Natural Interpretation of Chapter 5: Deviance as a Virtue beyond Social and Natural Conventions - the Art of Nature Interpretation of Chapter 6: The Tao of Stoicism and Sociality Interpretation of Chapter 7: Preserve your Life by withdrawing from Society
Chapter 1: Free and Easy Wandering
In the northern darkness there is a fish and his name is K’un. The K’un is so huge I don’t know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P’eng. The back of the P’eng measures I don’t know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.
The Universal Harmony records various wonders, and it says: “When the P’eng journeys to the southern darkness, the waters are roiled for three thousand li. He beats the whirlwind and rises ninety thousand li, setting off on the sixth-month gale.” Wavering heat, bits of dust, living things blown about by the wind - the sky looks very blue. Is that its real color, or is it because it is so far away and has no end? When the bird looks down, all he sees is blue too. If water is not piled up deep enough, it won’t have the strength to bear up a big boat. Pour a cup of water into a hollow in the floor and bits of trash will sail on it like boats. But set the cup there and it will stick fast, for the water is too shallow and the boat too large. If wind is not piled up deep enough, it won’t have the strength to bear up great wings. Therefore when the P’eng rises ninety thousand li, he must have the wind under him like that. Only then can he mount on the back of the wind, shoulder the blue sky, and nothing can hinder or block him. Only then can he set his eyes to the south.
The cicada and the little dove laugh at this saying, “When we make an effort and fly up, we can get as far as the elm or the sapanwood tree, but sometimes we don’t make it and just fall down on the ground. Now how is anyone going to go ninety thousand li to the south!” If you go off to the green woods nearby, you can take along food for three meals and come back with your stomach as full as ever. If you are going a hundred li, you must grind your grain the night before; and if you are going a thousand li you must start getting together provisions three months in advance. What do these two creatures understand? Little understanding cannot come up to great understanding; the short-lived cannot come up to the long-lived. How do I know this is so? The morning mushroom knows nothing of twilight and dawn; the summer cicada knows nothing of spring and autumn. They are short-lived. South of Ch’u there is a caterpillar which counts five hundred years as one spring and five hundred years as one autumn. Long, long ago there was a great rose of Sharon that counted eight thousand years as one spring and eight thousand years as one autumn. Yet P’eng-tsu alone is famous today for having lived a long time, and everybody tries to ape him. Isn’t it pitiful!
Among the questions of T’ang to Ch’i we find the same thing. In the bald and barren north, there is a dark sea, the Lake of Heaven. In it is a fish which is several thousand li across, and no one knows how long. His name is K’un. there is also a bird there, named P’eng, with a back like Mount T’ai and wings like clouds filling the sky. He beats the whirlwind, leaps into the air, and rises up ninety thousand li, cutting through the clouds and mist, shouldering the blue sky, and then he turns his eyes south and prepares to journey to the southern darkness. The little quail laughs at him, saying, “Where does he think he’s going? I give a great leap and fly up, but I never get more than ten or twelve yards before I come down fluttering among the weeds and brambles. And that’s the best kind of flying anyway! Where does he think he’s going?” Such is the difference between big and little.
Therefore a man who has wisdom enough to fill one office effectively, good conduct enough to impress one community, virtue enough to please one ruler, or talent enough to be called into service in one state, has the same kind of self-pride as these little creatures. Sung Jung-tzu would certainly burst out laughing at such a man. The whole world could praise Sung Jung-tzu and it wouldn’t make him exert himself; the whole world could condemn him and it wouldn’t make him mope. He drew a clear line between the internal and the external, and recognized the boundaries of true glory and disgrace. But that was all. As far as the world went, he didn’t fret or worry, but there was still ground he left unturned. Lieh Tzu could ride the wind and go soaring around with cool and breezy skill, but after fifteen days he came back to earth. As far as the search for good fortune went, he didn’t fret and worry. He escaped the trouble of walking, but he still had to depend on something to get around. If he had only mounted on the truth of Heaven and Earth, ridden the changes of the six breaths, and thus wandered through the boundless, then what would he have had to depend on?
I thought this was all insane and refused to believe it. He doesn’t eat the five grains. “He said that there is a Holy Man living on faraway Ku-she Mountain.big and nothing to back it up. If you took the throne. she uses no more than one branch.” Hsü Yu said. he can protect creatures from sickness and plague and make the harvest plentiful. climbs up on the clouds and mist.Therefore I say. “it’s a waste of light to go on burning the torches. “I was listening to Chieh Yü’s talk . the priest and the impersonator of the dead at the sacrifice do not leap over the wine casks and sacrificial stands and go take his place. Now if I take your place. going on and on without turning around.will I be doing it so I can play the part of a guest? When the tailor-bird builds her nest in the deep wood. “When the sun and moon have already come out.” Chien Wu said to Lien Shu. Go home and forget the matter. Yao wanted to cede the empire to Hsü Yu. “You govern the world and the world is already well governed. will I be doing it for a name? But name is only the guest of reality . it’s a waste of water to go on irrigating the fields. By concentrating his spirit. he takes no more than a bellyful. the Sage has no fame. and gentle and shy like a young girl. rides a flying dragon. the world would be well ordered. with skin like ice or snow. my lord. I beg to turn over the world to you. drinks the dew. the Perfect Man has no self.” . but sucks the wind.no more end than the Milky Way. I go on occupying it. wild and wide of the mark.” he said. the Holy Man has no merit. I have no use for the rulership of the world! Though the cook may not run his kitchen properly. but all I can see are my failings. and wanders beyond the four seas. isn’t it? When the seasonal rains are falling. I was completely dumbfounded at his words . never coming near human affairs!” “What were his words like?” asked Lien Shu. When the mole drinks at the river.
why should he wear himself out over the affairs of the world? There is nothing that can harm this man. I split it in half to make dippers. From his dust and leavings alone you could mold a Yao or a Shun! Why should he consent to bother about mere things?” A man of Sung who sold ceremonial hats made a trip to Yüeh. “We can’t expect a blind man to appreciate beautiful patterns or a deaf man to listen to bells and drums. And blindness and deafness are not confined to the body alone . Though the age calls for reform. This man. the fruit was big enough to hold five piculs. is about to embrace the ten thousand things and roll them into one. But he went to see the Four Masters of the far away Ku-she Mountain. I planted them.the understanding has them too.“You would!” said Lien Shu. Though flood waters pile up to the sky.” . I tried using it for a water container. “The king of Wei gave me some seeds of a huge gourd. Yao brought order to the people of the world and directed the government of all within the seas. he will not drown. with this virtue of his. Though a great drought melts metal and stone and scorches the earth and hills. and when they grew up. Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu. he will not be burned. and when he got home north of the Fen River.but I decided they were no use and so I smashed them to pieces. as your words just now have shown. but they were so large and unwieldly that I couldn’t dip them into anything. It’s not that the gourds weren’t fantastically big . he was dazed and had forgotten his kingdom there. but the Yüeh people cut their hair short and tattoo their bodies and had no use for such things. but it was so heavy I couldn’t lift it.
Now you had a gourd big enough to hold five piculs. watching for something to some along. Why didn’t you think of making it into a great tub so you could go floating around the rivers and lakes. if we sell our secret. not hesitating to go high or low . It certainly knows how to be big. The king put the man in charge of his troops. The salve had the power to prevent chapped hands in either case. and generation after generation his family made a living by bleaching silk in water. “Maybe you’ve never seen a wildcat or a weasel. “I have a big tree named ailanthus. Now you have this big tree and you’re distressed because it’s useless.until it falls into the trap and dies in the net. big as a cloud covering the sky. Why don’t you plant it in NotEven-Anything Village. It leaps and races east and west.because they used it in different ways. instead of worrying because it was too big and unwieldly to dip into things! Obviously you still have a lot of underbrush in your head!” Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu. but one made used it to get a fief. and that winter they fought a naval battle with the men of Yüeh and gave them a bad beating. who was having trouble with the state of Yüeh. we can make a hundred measures in one morning. too. are big and useless. though it doesn’t know how to catch rats. or lie . relax and do nothing by its side. You could stand it by the road and no carpenter would look at it twice. “You certainly are dense when it comes to using big things! In Sung there was a man who was skilled at making a salve to prevent chapped hands. or the field of Broad-and-Boundless. Let’s let him have it!’ The traveler got the salve and introduced it to the king of Wu. Your words. It crouches down and hides. A portion of the conquered territory was awarded to the man as a fief. Then again there’s the yak. A traveler heard about the salve and offered to buy the prescription for a hundred measures of gold. `For generations we’ve been bleaching silk and we’ve never made more than a few measures of gold.Chuang Tzu said. The man called everyone to a family council. while the other one never got beyond silk bleaching . and so everyone alike spurns them!” Chuang Tzu said. Its trunk is too gnarled and bumpy to apply a measuring line to. its branches too bent and twisty to match up to a compass or square.’ he said. `Now.
how can it come to grief or pain?” . if there’s no use for it. nothing can ever harm it.down for a free and easy sleep under it? Axes will never shorten its life.
He seemed despondent. and a heart be made to resemble dying embers? Now this lone man sitting at his table isn’t the same person who was sitting here a while ago. as though he’d lost an important part of himself.” Zi Qi said: . Image of a Succesful Traveler) stood waiting patiently in front of him. Intense of a Southern neighborhood) sat alone at his table. Yan Cheng Zi You (Mr.The Inner Chapter Two: Theories on all things being equal Nan Guo Zi Qi (Mr. looking up at the sky and sighing. then said: “Who is it that’s sitting here? Can a body really be made to resemble dead wood.
whistling. but I’ll come up with an answer! At this moment I lost myself .” Zi Qi said: “When the Great Clod (the earth) belches vapors. That’s only the beginning. Small knowledge concentrates on what’s far away and obscure.do you know what I mean? You may have heard the music made by people. but not heard the music made by the heavens. and the strong winds contribute the overtones. You may have heard the music made by the earth. screeching. like ears. Then it proceeds to rage and make loud noises through all the valleys and holes on earth. . like mouths. like goblets.“Sitting here. the headwinds sing “Yoooh!”. By themselves they all attain what’s right for them. wailing. I’d appreciate it if you’d explain more about the music of the heavens. but not heard the music made by the earth. sucking. I didn’t think it was good to question what was happening.” Zi You replied: “I’d really appreciate it if you’d explain more about that. but makes each of them follow their own patterns. The music produced by people uses various bamboo instruments. to these peculiar sounding instruments?” Zi You replied: “The music produced by the earth uses the many crevaces and caves. and the tailwinds sing “Yaaah!” The soft winds contribute the undertones. it’s called the wind. like sockets. Haven’t you ever heard the sounds of the wind blowing? In the awesome elegant mountain forests there are huge trees surrounded by crevaces and caves which are like noses. growling. shouting. Roaring. The harsh winds blow through all the empty holes and caves. like sewers. like mortars. so is there anyone who’d really be able to enslave them?” Great knowledge concentrates on what’s close and vivid. Haven’t you ever been an audience to this harmonious melody. like canals. howling.” Zi Qi said: “It blows on each of the thousands of things differently.
not being able to turn away from them. When awake other shapes are revealed. Enough! Enough already! There’s dawn. They indulge in their own motivated actions.worry/distress. That seems easy enough to understand. Day and night naturally follow each other. nothing can cause them to return to seeing the bright side of things. . Enjoyment can arise from what was once empty. When sleeping there’s a connection with the spirit. adaptability/ restrictions. and there’s sunset. It’s possible to have personal beliefs. Big fears create apathy and seclusion. It might seem like there’s some perfect truth. sorrow/pleasure. using words that vanish in the course of a day. stress/laziness. We may become apathetic. each day our hearts and minds compete. Connecting and meeting together. but what’s special can’t really be observed clearly. They kill as easily as autumn turns to winter. but if it’s not understood there’s no reason to do anything else. All they experience is happiness/anger. just like mushrooms can be produced by the vapors on the soil.to have feelings about things but not to create dogma around them. but not to allow them take an actual form . openness/pretense. They each have their place for creating life! There is no “other” without a “me. and they use words that have become as stagnant as sewer water. trying to take control of what they determine to be Right or Wrong. depressed and secretive. and no one knows how that happens. Small fears create worry and concern.” There is no “me” without something to grab hold of. Nearly dead in their hearts.Big talk is bright and flashy. Their disgust closes in on them. Small talk is chattering and scattered. They shoot out like arrows from a crossbow.
that’s really incredibly sad! Are people originally born with those kinds of ridiculous thoughts? Am I the only one who thinks that’s ridiculous. and nothing is able to stop them. That’s definitely something to be sad about! What advantage is it for anyone to speak about Immortality? If their shape is so twisted that their minds can’t make sense any more. Once we’ve received this body. their working relationship would become useless and decrease to the point where nothing would work in perfect harmony. we don’t lose the use of it until we’ve exhausted it. or are there others who agree? . nine openings and six organs complete our existence. They wear themselves out by galloping all over the place. Which of those do we feel closest to? Do you express joy for all of them? Do you cherish one over another? Don’t they all act as your servants? Are any of those servants capable enough to control one of the others? Do any of them give themself over as a servant and accept another as their ruler? Does a truly perfect ruler exist among them? If we try to extablish that kind of heirarchy.A hundred bones. and still don’t have a clue how to get out of it. they still don’t achieve the success they were reaching for. Living things destroy each other and make waste of each other. They’ve tired themselves out completely with all their battling. Isn’t that sad! After a whole life of battling and fighting.
But what he’s intending to say might seem really vague. To make something out of nothing . So what’s the point of speaking? What if there were no words? Speaking is thought to be different from the chirping of baby birds. the other thinks is Right. and Wrong into Right . One who speaks is actually saying something.then you’d really have to be sharp-sighted. Words are hidden in grandiose speeches. that’s as silly as thinking you could set out for Yue today and arrive there yesterday. In order to make Right into Wrong. the other thinks is Wrong. Then we have the Confucian and Mohist ideas of Right and Wrong. If you haven’t yet succeded in connecting with your own heart but have a sense of Right and Wrong.If it was meant for everyone to follow a teacher. What one thinks is Right. Can words be used to clarify? Can they be used to confuse? How has Dao become so hidden that there is True and False? How has speech become so hidden that there is Right and Wrong? Where is it that Dao doesn’t exist? Which words are there that shouldn’t exist? Dao is hidden in small accomplishments. .even the Great Yu wouldn’t know how to do that. How could one as simple as me be able to follow those instructions! Speaking isn’t merely blowing wind out of our mouths. That would be like trying to make something out of nothing. would there be a single person who’d be without a teacher for a moment? Does the quest for knowledge mean replacing one’s true feelings with the teachings of someone else? Fools tend to group together. What one thinks is Wrong.
others can be understood. . If you have knowledge of yourself. This has a set of Rights and a set of Wrongs. The reason there is Wrong is because there is Right. One may compare life to death. If you look at something as a That. a wise person doesn’t follow that course of reasoning.that’s refered to as the pivot of Dao. and This is also on account of That.Things are merely a That or a This. One may compare death to life. So……. One may compare what’s suitable with what’s not suitable. The reason there is Right is because there is Wrong. What’s Right is part of the endless circle. it can’t be seen clearly. using this reasoning: This is also That. That is also This. Therefore. What’s Wrong is part of the endless circle. One may compare what’s not suitable with what’s suitable. but reflects on what comes from the heavens. That has a set of Rights and a set of Wrongs. Does that result in there still being a That and a This? Is the result that there is no longer a That and a This? When That and This find nothing to keep them apart . Therefore. it’s been said: “That stems from This. Only when the pivot is in the middle of an unbroken ring can it respond endlessly.” That and This make comparisons about life with their own theories.
Therefore. isn’t as good as using something that’s not a finger as a representation of what’s a finger and what’s not a finger. Without anything. What can’t. Very few get ahold of something they’re content with. Heaven and earth are fingers. How could it not be so? What’s not so is not so. as to a small shoot of grass and a mighty pillar. Things actually are somewhat so. and since they can relate to each other. a . Only someone with keen perception can find the unity in all things. Therefore. To use a horse as a representation to show what’s a horse and what’s not a horse. Go with Dao and there’s success.” The monkeys were all happy. what would stand out as unusual? Dao joins with all of them. nothing can. When they stop without not knowing why they’ve done that. The amount they were fed didn’t change.” What’s meant by “three in the morning”? There was a monkey keeper who gave these instructions for feeding nuts to the monkeys: “Give them three in the morning and four at night. How could it be so? What’s so is so. The ten thousand things are horses. nothing is so.That’s why it’s been said: “You really have to be sharp-sighted. Without anything. an ugly ogre and Xi Shi (woman known as an acme of beauty). What makes connections gets a hold of something. Things actually somewhat can. not because of looking for their usefulness but by dwelling in the idea that everything is ordinary. What’s useful makes connections. they’re getting the gist of Dao.” The monkeys were all outraged. give them four in the morning and three at night. Ordinary things are without differentiation and destruction. To differentiate between them brings a result. To wear out your spirit and intelligence trying to unify everything without knowing they’re already in harmony is called “three in the morning. What can. Things that are spoken become so. isn’t as good as using something that’s not a horse as a representation of what’s a horse and what’s not a horse. So he said: “Okay. What’s ordinary is useful.” To use a finger as a representation to show what’s a finger and what’s not a finger. but their reactions showing pleasure or anger got them what they wanted. and that result is their destruction. can. they unite. can’t.
Then they came up with the belief that some things really were above others. then neither I nor anyone else has accomplished anything. then I’ve also accomplished things. In what way did they do that? First they believed that things did not really exist as separate entities. they came up with a belief that there actually were separate things. all of Wen’s students kept fiddling with the strings for the rest of their lives. slipping into doubt about what’s dazzling. Since ancient times people have been trying to extend their knowledge. clansman Zhao wouldn’t play the zither. How much did these three gentlemen know? All of them were prosperous. but they didn’t place any one thing above another. so they were famous for the rest of their lives. but in all that time they didn’t accomplish anything. Furthermore. Each of them were so good at what they did that they acted like it was easy enough for anyone to have the ability to be as talented as they were. but they hadn’t made a determination of which things were Right and which were Wrong. Zhao Wen played the zither. Therefore. that’s what a wise person uses as a . If that can be called an accomplishment. If that can’t be called accomplishment. Hui Zi leaned against a shade tree. Shi Kuang weilded his baton. they began to cherish their own accomplishments. However. they really lost their way. Could there really be any sense of accomplishment while one was so lost? Could there be no sense of accomplishment while one was so lost? Feeling a sense of accomplishment while lost. That was the extent of it and nothing more needed to be added. This is called being able to adapt. Losing their way. Next. clansman Zhao (a famous musician) would play the zither. When they came to the conclusion that they could make a distinction between what was Right and what was Wrong. even though they had abilities in different areas.wise person finds harmony with Right and Wrong and relaxes with the equality of the heavens. Not feeling a sense of accomplishment while lost. other people didn’t have the same talents as they did. So their determination to teach others was in vain and their talent died with them.
There has not yet been a beginning that began anything. The whole universe and I came into being together. there’d be no point in determining what was existence and what was non-existence. Nowadays there are all sorts of words. There was a beginning. There is no beginning to existence just as there is no beginning to non-existence. or haven’t said anything at all. if we proceed from nothing to something and arrive at three. One category may not fit in with another. If they were all grouped together. If after a while existence and non-existence came to an end. Since there’s already this connection. Words have never been consistent. and a huge mountain is small. then not knowing whether there actually was an existence or a non-existence. so they definitely have limits. There is existence. Although that may be so. then there’d be no need for distinctions. Going forward with these calculations. there is Right. Now that I’ve already made those statements. they might form a new category. Existence and non-existence have not yet begun. As for Dao. but rather accepting that everything is simply ordinary. Maybe they don’t fit into any category. there never were distinctions. Grouped together.map. and all living things are connected to me. please check out these words. and Peng Zu (a man who lived for eight hundred years) is young. Instead of looking for what’s useful. what’s the use of speaking about it? Since that’s all that can be said about this ultimate connection. even the cleverest mathemetician couldn’t reach the end. Nothing has a longer life than a stillborn child. In the whole world there’s nothing larger than the tip of an animal’s hair. There is non-existence. There is Left. I’d like to say something about those limits. These two (separately) with one (the two together) becomes three. Let’s call it quits. can we stop talking about it? One together with words becomes two. that’s called really being sharp-sighted. just imagine what would happen if we proceeded from something to something! Let’s not proceed. There are personal . I don’t know if I’ve really said anything. There’s no way to know which category they fit into. to say nothing of ordinary people! Therefore.
whereas everybody else argues trying to make their point. a wise person leaves open to doubt. With disagreements. Sincere honesty isn’t believed. Magnificent courage doesn’t cause distress. What’s outside the realm of this world. Of these five. there is one-up-manship. there are no arguments. even with detachment there is nondetachment. Magnificent honesty doesn’t mediate.ethics. What’s inside the realm of this world. Dao that is obvious is not Dao. Magnificent arguments use no words. but not get into arguments over it. Magnificent compassion is not benevolent. That’s why it’s been said: “Those who argue can’t see past their own noses. a wise person will come to their own conclusions. One might ask: “How can that be?” A wise person holds on to what he believes. Courage which causes distress attains nothing. There are conversations. There is detachment. Consistent compassion is unsuccessful. there are societal mandates. These are called the eight expressions of the heart.” Magnificent Dao makes no determinations. a wise person will discuss but won’t come to definitive conclusions about any of it. Words used in arguments are futile. About the ancient records of the first kings (historical events). Therefore. how many could be correctly followed? . there are debates.
this would be called preserving a bright light in the darkness. What’s causing me to feel this way?” Shun replied: “The rulers of those three states are still living among cottontails and mugwort (undeveloped states and thus easily conquered). That would be called self-sufficiency. All living things were exposed by that brightness. then doesn’t anyone know anything?” . Knowing how to argue without words and how to follow Dao without guideposts . and now the message of your own heart is coming through to you as brightly as those suns!” Nie Que (Cracked and Missing Teeth) asked of Wang Ni (Master of Bewilderment): “Do you know of anything that everyone would agree is Right?” Ni said: “How would I know that!” “Do you know what you don’t know?” “How would I know that! “If that’s true. yet not emptied.it would seem like having the ability to really know something. A long time ago. How could you not feel uncomfortable? A long time ago ten suns all came out at once.Therefore. one who knows when to stop at what they don’t know has arrived. I still feel uncomfortable about it. saying: “I want to attack the states of Zong. Even though I’m sitting here on a throne with so much power. Yao asked some questions of Shun (his prime minister). Poured into. Kuai and Xu Ao. yet not filled up. Not knowing the place from which anything arises . Flushed out.
then a fully achieved person wouldn’t know what’s beneficial or harmful either!” Wang Ni replied: “A fully achieved person is like a spirit! The great marshes could be set on fire. Hawks and crows have a taste for mice. Eels and fish mate in the water.” .“How would I know that! Nevertheless. I’ll try to say something about it. which knows the right place to make a home? People eat herbivorous animals. If a person slept in a damp place. and the ways of Right and Wrong are enmeshed in confusion and chaos. but she wouldn’t be startled. they’d get rheumatism in their backs and walk bent over. which knows what tastes best? Male monkeys find female monkeys attractive. How can I know if what I claim I know to be true is rejecting the idea that there is something I might not know? How can I know if what I claim I don’t know to be true is rejecting the idea that there is something I do know? Now let me ask you some questions. but she wouldn’t feel hot. Neither death nor life can cause changes within her. but when fish saw them they’d plunge deep into the water. and travel beyond the four seas. Mao Qiang and Li Ji were considered beautiful by most people. How would I be able to tell them apart!” Ni Que said: “If you don’t know what’s beneficial or harmful. straddle the sun and moon. and if deer saw them they’d gallop quickly away. which knows the most about feminine attractiveness? From my point of view. Of those four. the principles of benevolence and righteousness. wind could cause a tsunami in the ocean. Would it be the same for a monkey? Of those three. Thunder could suddenly echo through the mountains. A person like that could ride through the sky on the floating clouds. Centipedes taste sweet to snakes. they’d tremble with fear and shake uncontrolably. The rivers in China could all freeze over. Elks and deer eat grass and hay. Would it be the same for an eel? If a person lived in a tree. but she wouldn’t feel cold. Of those four. Stags mate with does. and there’s little reason for her to even consider benefit or harm. and if birds saw them they’d soar high up into the sky.
On her way to the state of Jin (to become a concubine for the . trying to be subserviently respectful to others . my friend?” Chang Wu Zi said: “Upon hearing this. even the Yellow Emperor would be perplexed. don’t look to avoid bankruptcy. participating in a long life because they’ve succeded at connecting with simplicity. and any description of him is inadequate since he travels outside the dust and dirt (troubles of everyday life).Qu Que Zi (Mr. “How could I know that enjoyment of life isn’t a delusion? How could I know that a dislike of death isn’t like a simpering fledgling who doesn’t know how to get back to his nest? Li Ji was the daughter of the border warden Ai. You see a crossbow and can’t wait to have a bird roasting in the oven. Full Grown Shade Tree): “I’ve heard my Master say that a wise person is considered to be someone who doesn’t get involved in a career. and you listen to them abstractly. A wise person is foolishly childlike. There’s no way to describe him. My Master thinks that’s a pretty hasty and impulsive way of looking at things. so how could Qiu (Confucius) fully understand it! As for you. They don’t strive for profit. but I think it’s the way of moving with mysterious Dao. If all living things availed themselves of what they are. you’re getting way ahead of yourself. How does it seem to you. trying to make sense out of what’s evasive and chaotic. and have no reason to get involved in those things. I’ll give you some abstract words to savor.everybody labors at those things. trying to become intimate with everything. Startled Squawking Bird) asked of Chang Wu Zi (Mr. You see an egg and can’t wait for it to crow. okay? “Trying to hold the outer edges of the sun and moon to restrain the whole universe. in that way they’d be beneficial to each other. don’t find enjoyment in competetion.
As for what I’ve said. but when they wake up they realize it was just a dream. Princes! Paupers! Indeed! You and Qiu (Confucius) are both dreaming. “Suppose we have an argument with each other. One who dreams of weeping and sobbing wakes up in the morning and goes hunting.then she regretted ever having cried.king) she wept to much that she soaked the front of her dress. After one has completely woken up they realize it was all just a big dream. it would be like dawn and sunset occuring at the same time. If Right was no different from Non-Right. When I call you a dreamer. shared with the king his luxuriuos bed. then you and I and others wouldn’t be able to come to any agreement. but they’re harmonized within the scope of the heavens. forget righteousness. In the middle of a dream they might think they’re actually a part of the dream. In that way they spread out gracefully then fade away after running their course. But when she arrived at the palace. Should we ask someone else to decide who’s Right? What if we ask someone who agrees with you? Since he already agrees with you. What’s meant by being ‘harmonized within the scope of the heavens?’ One could say: Right may not be Right. Vibrate with boundlessness. I’m also a dreamer. If you beat me instead of me beating you. and ate the tender grain-fed meat at his table . it could be called a flight of fancy. and both of us be Wrong? Since neither of us can come to an agreement on that. then there’d be no reason for arguments about what was So and what was Non-So. how can he make the decision! What if we ask someone who agrees with me? Since he already agrees with me. How could I know if the dead wouldn’t repent their former craving for life! “One who dreams of a drunken banquet wakes up in the morning weeping and sobbing. A fool believes himself to be awake. then there’d be no reason for arguments about what was Right and what was Non-Right. then other people would be impervious to our muddled ignorance. So may not be So. While they’re dreaming. they don’t know they’re dreaming. If in all the generations to come we could meet up with someone who had such great wisdom that they knew how to explain all this. In that way totally dwell in boundlessness. am I necessarily Right and you’re Wrong? Must one of us be Right. how can he make the decision! Since that’s so. If So was no different from Non-So. how can he make the decision! What if we ask someone who disagrees with both of us? Since he already disagrees with both of us. are you necessarily Right and I’m Wrong? If I beat you instead of you beating me. or it might not seem to be waiting for anything.” . and the other Wrong? Could both of us be Right. Do we depend on other people’s opinions? “Each changing tone of sound might be waiting for another sound to reverberate with. Forget the passage of time. how can he make the decision! What if we ask someone who agrees with both of us? Since he already agrees with both of us. inwardly and privately actually believing he knows who he really is.
Happily absorbed in being a butterfly. The luminous outline around a shadow. A little while ago you sat down. I was thrilled to fly around and do what butterflies do.The penumbra asked the shadow: “A little while ago you moved.) A while ago I. When I woke up. or if I was a butterfly dreaming I was Zhou. dreamed I was a butterfly. I suddenly found that I was Zhou. It’s called metamorphosis. . How can you act so irrationally?” The shadow replied: “Do I have to depend on something else to be the way I am? Does what I depend on also have to depend on something else to be what it is? Is my dependence like a snake’s on its scales or a cicada’s on its wings? How can I know why I am so? How can I know why I am not otherwise?” (Note: Penumbra: A space of partial illumination [as in an eclipse] between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light. Zhuang Zhou (Zhuangzi). I didn’t even know I was Zhou. and now you’re standing up. and now you’ve stopped. I didn’t know if I was Zhou dreaming I was a butterfly. There must be something that separates Zhou from the butterfly.
your loved ones can be supported. Using what’s limited to try to catch up with what’s unlimited can only bring trouble. but there are no limits to knowledge. Someone who already thinks they’re knowledgable is really in trouble. and you can live out your natural life span. your life can be perfected. . then your body can be protected. If you sort through for the strongest points fate has provided to you and set your course by them.The Inner Chapter Three: Opinions on Nurturing Life There are limits in our lives. Acting badly doesn’t necessarily bring punishment. Acting with kindness doesn’t necessarily bring warm responses.
Each section of the ox has a gap. and the edge of my knife is narrower than that opening.” Lord Wen Hui said: “Oh. Nevertheless. When I come upon places where muscle and bone connect. excellent! How did you come up with such a perfect technique?” Cook Ding set down his knife and replied: “Your servant is fond of Dao. Those are the gaps where I thrust my narrow blade. Nowadays. With a steady rhythm. My brain knows when to stop and let my spirit take over. I proceed with caution and keep my guard up. It’s as sharp now as it was when it was first honed. all I could see was a whole ox. At the time when I first began as a butcher.Cook Ding was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen Hui (Kind Gentle Official). I’ve had my knife for nineteen years. Following the natural grain. That’s why I’ve had this knife for nineteen years and it’s still like new. It was equal to the dancing performed to the music of “The Mulberry Grove. noting the large gaps between the cartilage and observing the huge hollows . his foot thrust forward. and I’ve butchered over a thousand oxen. like a clump of dirt . every time I come to a dense spot. I no longer saw the ox as a whole. I sense with my spirit instead of looking with my eye. I look for its difficulties. considering when I should stop and when I should move slowly. his shoulders hunched. Three years later. that’s the only time I need to be forceful! A good cook changes his knife every year because he cuts. I move the knife just a little bit and that part is quickly separated.every slice of meat fell in front of him as his knife seemed to hum a melody. which advances techniques. So wide are those places where I place my knife that there’s lots of leeway. With his hands in place. it didn’t miss a beat. An ordinary cook changes his knife every month because he hacks.they already provide me with a map.” and as skillful as the musicians playing “The Jing Shou. and his knee bent .
or is he more related to people?” “To the heavens. Most people try to act in ways that bring them approval from other people. A disciple asked: .” Lord Wen Hui said: “Excellent! What I’ve gotten from your words is how to nourish life. he was startled and said: “Who is that guy? Why is he so removed from the rest of us? Is he more related to the heavens. that would be bad for it. “A marsh pheasant will take ten steps to get one peck of food. Then I lift up my knife and stand up straight.shifitng on the ground. not to people. a hundred steps to get one drink of water. If it was treated like a god or a king. not of people. It wouldn’t stay in a cage if it was given unlimited amounts of food and water. He prefers to have understanding of the heavens.” When Lao Dan (Lao Zi) died. pausing to look at at all my work until I’m satisfied with it.” When Gong Wen Xuan (Official Concealed Chariot) saw the Teacher of the Right. The life the heavens has given him is what makes him appear so isolated. Qin Shi mourned for him by uttering three howls and leaving. Then I properly clean my knife and stow it away.
” “If that’s so. sorrow and happiness don’t enter the picture. not to be alone while crying their tears. By peacefully accepting the opportunity and later comfortably submitting. . who came to assemble here wanted not to be alone while saying their words. they’ve forgotten they can endure their suffering.“Weren’t you a friend of the Master?” “Yes. By trying to escape their many natural emotions.” If you keep pointing at stuff you’ll become like firewood. the Master took that opportunity. Each of them. When it was appropriate for him to come. there were a lot of old people crying . In ancient times this was called dismissing the ruler from his earthly responsibilities. the Master submitted. but now I don’t. A few of them cried as though they were crying for the loss of their own mothers. then can you really be comfortable mourning in this way?” “Yes. When it was appropriate for him to leave.as though they were crying for the loss of their own children. At first I thought of him as a man. When I went in to mourn. The ancients called this trying to escape natural torment. I was. therefore. The flame will keep burning you up and you won’t know when it’ll stop. I can.
” “What for? .The Inner Chapter Four: Relating to the Human World Yan Hui (a disciple of Confucius) went to see Zhong Ni (Confucius) and asked his permission to take a hiatus. “Where are you going?” “To the state of Wei.
and neither will get you anywhere. Before the ideals of society took over. and knowledge is expressed in disputes. If you already think you have substantial virtue and solid beliefs. how would you have the time to go around trying to fix the cruelty of others! In addition. then there’s no way to help anyone.’ The doctor’s offices are filled with sick people. leave it. and their bodies litter the countryside like weeds in a swamp. I’d like to come up with a way to reform all or at least some of what’s going on there.” Zhong Ni said: “Ha. Try to fit all the pieces together. If you can . With so much worrying. do you know how virtue is wasted and how knowledge is expressed? Virtue is wasted on trying to become famous. I remember something you once said. Master: ‘If a country is in order. Both of those are terrible methods. The more they multiply. If you can share with me your thoughts about this. He’s taking advantage of his position and can’t see the mistakes he’s making. If a country is in turmoil. the more upset you’ll get. He thinks nothing at all of his people dying. The people can’t do anything about it. One who tries to become famous steps on others.Hui replied: “The news reports that the prince of Wei is acting like a spoiled brat. go to it. an achieved person worked first on getting all the parts within himself attuned before trying to attune all the parts in others. and you’ll just find more pieces lying around. When you’re upset you’ll be worried and sad. If there’s still something not dealt with in yourself. ha! It seems dangerous to go there just to get your ear chopped off! The Way isn’t about wanting to fit all the pieces together. and one who wants to show off their knowledge uses it as a weapon in debates. you haven’t even begun to consider the essence of other people.
Yao attacked the states of Cong. Start out that way and it’d never end. On the other hand. Yu attacked You Hu. your shape would go limp. Then your approach would be like calling people weeds which needed to be sorted through. This would be like using fire to fight fire or using water to try to stop a flood. if you gave a hint that you didn’t believe in the profound words he was saying. but if you show the evilness in that then you’d just appear to be trying to make yourself look better than they are. and you’d probably end up being killed right there in front of such a violent person! “Keep in mind that Jie (a tyrant) killed Guan Long Feng (his minister). that would put you in serious trouble. Everyone had warned those ministers ahead of time that they should remain subserviant and not raise a ruckus. “Besides. “As for some other ancient rulers . their warfare continued. Then you’d just be increasing what was already there. and your mind for the time being would take in everything he said. It seems pretty dangerous to approach people like that. Those states were laid to waste. and Zhou (a tyrant) killed Prince Bi Gan (his minister). then you wouldn’t be trying to take over a precious place in other people’s hearts. Then your eyes would start to burn. What would be the use in asking him to change his ways? If you spend too much time pondering over how to instruct him. Being chastized by having rules and regulations about benevolence and righteousness pointed out is the type of violent method that people have already had to deal with. and yet there was no end to their thirst for material gain. much less you! . but they let the rulers push them down so low that the rulers thought nothing of squashing them. They were that desperate to keep their titles. nor may he hate those who are unworthy. bodies were tortured and killed. the prince might not have any preference for those who are worthy. Zhi and Xu Ao. people will revolt against it. your expression would go dumb.give up on competing for fame. the prince would inevitably take advantage of your lack of preparedness. Haven’t you heard of their obsession with fame and posessions? The desire to become rich and famous is something even a wise person couldn’t overcome. If you sort through people like that. your mouth would drop open.
not acting from my own selfinterest. bowing down. A person like that is gradually diminishing their own virtue. I could keep centered within myself. since you must have had something in mind to begin with. Keeping what I know to be right to myself. I’d simply be a follower of the people. people would call me childish. people wouldn’t be able to find fault with me. Since I’d simply be following the actions of the heavens. If I’m just citing what the ancients said in the past. Being successful at appearing to be like him (the prince). All people do that. but you can’t be sure from all those theatrics what’s really in his spirit. How could he find any use for you!” “Okay then. Then how could my words be taken as seeking approval from others or seeking their disapproval? Being this way. I’d be citing what the ancients believed. shutting himself off from any advice coming from others while not finding anything to criticize within himself. My words would echo what they taught and be substantial for that reason. then would that do?” . In that way I’d be echoing what’s true and correct. kneeling in submission. give me the gist of it. but be so adaptable on the outside that I’d appear to be like him. I know the emperor would look on me like a child of the heavens. and in that way I’d be seen as a follower of the people. Ordinary people won’t disobey him because he makes mandates on their feelings and controls what’s in their hearts.“Okay.these are the rituals performed by respectful people. not what I myself believe. Offering sacrifices. Being adaptable on the outside. and beating my chest with my fist . I would thus be seen as a follower of the respected ancients. so why would I dare to act otherwise? By conducting myself in this way. devoting serious effort and being single-minded in my purpose? How about that?” “Huh? What are you thinking? That man (the prince) creatively puts on a showy display of greatness. I could follow on the tails of the actions of the heavens. as though I was merely a follower of the heavens. while having a strong belief their virtue is great! He’ll hold on to that belief and refuse to change.” Yan Hui said: “What if I were to remain level-headed and open.
but you’d manage to get away without being accused of any crime. then I’ll tell you what I think. I don’t remember having a drink of wine or a bite of meat in several months. I’m asking for your suggestions. not the fasting of the heart/mind.” Zhong Ni replied: “Go on a fast. Can that be considered fasting?” “That’s the kind of fasting one does for religious rituals. although your methods are a little shaky. how would that really get anyone to make any drastic changes! You’d still sound a bit like a preacher. then you’re not in tune with the heavens. Even though someone might stop and listen to you.” Yan Hui said: “I don’t know what else to try.Zhong Ni replied: “Huh? What are you thinking? For the most part you’re right.” Yan Hui said: “My household is poor.” . Do you think it’s easy to come up with a plan of action? If you think it’s easy.
or who I really am. Give up listening with your heart. would that be called openness?” The Master said: “You’ve got it. but it’s difficlut to walk without touching the ground. If you don’t make headway. We’ve all heard about things that have wings and can fly. We haven’t heard about those who are ignorant that are considered to be knowledgable. With no need to physically or mentally escape the situation. then speak naturally.Hui asked: “Can I ask what’s the fasting of the heart/mind?” Zhong Ni replied: “Unify your frame of mind. then you’d almost be done. The heart stops at making calculations. . It’s easy to be a fake if you’re trying to act like everyone else. If you make any headway. then stop. In the essence of the spirit is openness that’s waiting to receive all things. Now we’re speaking the same language! You can go about traveling in his realm and not be affected by fame. but listen with your heart. Give up listening with your ears. To walk without leaving tracks is easy. realizing that all environments are the same and you have no alternative than to be where you are.” Yan Hui said: “I haven’t yet gotten a grip on just what I’m supposed to be doing. We’ve all heard about people who are smart that are considered to be knowledgable. We haven’t heard about things that don’t have wings and can fly. but it’s difficult to be a fake if your actions arise naturally. In that openness is the fasting of the heart. If I’ve gotten to the point of having no sense of who I am. but listen with the vital essence of your spirit! Listening stops at the ears. Pondering Dao accumulates more openness.
but I’m already feeling like my nature is topsy-turvy. How much more scattered most people allow themselves to get!” When Zi Gao (the Duke of She in the state of Chu) was about to depart on a mission to the state of Qi. I must show the utmost respect and not be impatient. Master. he asked Zhong Ni (Confucius): “This is a really important bridge the king is sending me to build (between our nations). then it would certainly bring a series of troubles from the way people would react. mind racing). I’m completely inadequate for this task. If affairs are unsuccessful. Few who don’t follow Dao will enjoy success. Master. and by the evening I was drinking ice water to cool off .’ I eat whatever is handy. and the path taken by Fu Xi and Ji Qu to the end. do you have any words of advice?” Zhong Ni said: . I’m already getting the worst of it in both ways. have no skill at cooking. If affairs are successful. certainly I’ll have a series of troubles from the way people will react. An empty room lets in the most brightness. As a minister of the state. This morning I received my instructions.supernatural beings would be drawn to that place and even more so would human beings. Even ordinary people can’t be pushed to do something. and so my kitchen doesn’t get overheated.that’s called sitting at a gallop (body still. It’s good fortune to stop. To allow what you see and hear free access to come inside.“Look for each of the places where there’s a blockage. To evade trouble whether there’s success or failure . and Qi is waiting for me as an emissary. Someone who can’t find a moment to stop . but to keep your mind and knowledge out of it .I’m feeling so hot inside! I haven’t even found out the details of what I’m supposed to do yet. stop.only someone with virtue can do that. That’s the position taken by Yu and Shun. let alone princes and dukes! I’m really scared. you once told me this about bridging the gap of different cultures: ‘Dealing with ordinary affairs can appear small or large. This is the way all living things adapt. then it would certainly upset the balance of nature. If I’m not successful in this mission.
is the attainment of virtue. there’d be no place in the whole world he could escape. One who acts as a subject or child to others would certainly not be out to get anything for themselves. One of them is fate and the other is duty. despite their position. Passing on angry words requires much venom. not with exaggerated words. and to be comfortable with that is the utmost in filial piety. To be of service to your own heart. and it can’t be driven from their heart. To pass on words that might express the delight or the anger of one of the parties is the most diffucult thing in the world to do.“There are two universal mandates in this world. If they’re physically apart from each other then they must use words to express their friendship. then most likely you’ll remain whole (not suffer amputation or death). A child’s love for their parents is fated. A subject’s service to his ruler is duty. These are called universal mandates. and those words usually have to be passed on by someone. To be of service to your ruler. when would there be any spare time for thinking about whether you’re enjoying life and dreading death! My dear friend.’ . it’s said in the Fa Yan (”Book of Rules”): ‘Pass on what has been actually said. that’s the way to proceed! “Please let me tell you something I heard: Ordinarily those in intimate relationships must blend with each other’s beliefs. because if he didn’t follow along and tried to oppose the ruler. To properly express joyful tidings requires exaggerated compliments. despite the tasks requested of you. despite the fact that joy or sorrow have overcome you and realizing that they are part of fate and that neither of them will last for long. Being so involved in the needs of others and forgetting about oneself. Ordinarily these exaggerations can get pretty ridiculous. If they’re ridiculous enough then no one would believe they’re true. and the messenger would be doomed. Therefore. and to be comfortable with that is the most complete loyalty. To be of service to your parents.
anger can arise for no apparent reason other than as a reaction to harsh and biased words. If they don’t even know they’re doing that.“Another thing to remember: A skillful and strong fighter (martial artist) starts out openly showing his moves then will usually end up being more deceptive. The more they drink. How would you be affected by reporting back what happened on the mission? Nothing other than the fact that what happened was caused by destiny. and not even know they’re doing that. You can’t be too cautious! “For the time being let things ride and follow your heart. They begin simply enough. If you push someone too much. the more unexpected moves he uses. One who speaks can cause a stormy sea (disturbance). Therefore. Then you’ll know you’ve finished with it. The longer the fight lasts. What begins with sincerity often ends up in rudeness. then they won’t respond from their heart. but they usually eventually become much more complex. Ordinary affairs are much the same. the more they laugh like lunatics. Disturbances can easily cause one to take actions. but look for what would appease both sides. A bad settlement is irreparable. and one who acts on it can lose sight of reality. Its last exhalation is so suddenly expelled that feelings of terror arise in both the hunter and the hunted. without pushing for success . who knows where it’ll end up? Therefore. A fine settlement takes time. Losing sight of reality can easily cause one to be in danger. “An animal doesn’t choose which sound to make when it dies. it’s said in the Fa Yan: ‘Without making demands.” . Figure that you probably won’t necessarily get fulfillment yourself. One who’s at a party drinking liquor starts out in control of himself then will usually end up getting out of control.that’s when the most beneficial outcome will result.’ Making demands and pushing for success would be dangerous in this matter. You’re the one who makes it more difficult than that.
what can I do?” Qi Bo Yu responded: “Good question! Be on guard. don’t let that affect what’s in your heart. you’ll lose your balance. there are still a couple of things you have to be careful about. then that would be dangerous to my state. then you also act without concern for your own safety. and get your own motivations in order! As to your outer appearance. As to your inner feelings. If you get so involved in the peace within your heart that you show it on the outside. If he starts exploring ways to overcome his limits. you’ll hear everything as though it was music to your ears. you’ll fall apart. If he acts without being concerned for his own safety. “If the prince acts like an innocent child. you can reach into the place within him that’s without faults. If you get so involved in conforming to what’s around you that you let it affect your heart. and become a spoiled brat. and you’ll lose consciousness. Even if you do all that. then that would be dangerous to my own well-being. there’s nothing better than compliance. If I allow him to proceed without suggesting a better method. so he asked of Qu Bo Yu (a minister of the state of Wei): “This is a man whose natural disposition is to kill. but not smart enough to recognize his own faults. If you get to that point. Just because you’re feeling peaceful inside. . then you also act like an innocent child with him. your blood will run cold. there’s nothing better than peacefulness. In a situation like this. then you also act like you’re exploring ways to overcome limits. be cautious. seek fame. don’t let that affect how you act on the outside. He’s smart enough to recognize other people’s faults. If I insist on showing him a better method. act seductively. Just because you’re comforming on the outside.Yan He (a scholar from the state of Lu) was about to become tutor of the eldest son of Duke Ling in the state of Wei.
By determining the times when they’d be hungry or full. The distinguished carpenter paid it no mind and just kept going without pausing. be cautious! One who thinks they’re good at tearing down what has already built up momentum will be offensive. “Haven’t you heard the story of the guy who raised and tamed tigers? He didn’t dare give them living animals for food. and it measured a hundred spans around. “There was a man who loved his horse. Be on guard. but got carried away with thinking it could be good at doing anything. what was once a killer can be turned into the opposite. since by tearing them apart their viciousness would increase. and at least ten of the branches were large enough to be used to build the side of a boat. It was as tall as the mountains in the background. Isn’t there always a reason for caution?” A master carpenter named Shi (Stone Face). and filled up large shells with its urine. The horse was startled by the slap on his rump and pulled on its bit. since by killing them their viciousness would increase. he ran to catch up with carpenter Shi and said: .“Haven’t you heard the story of the praying mantis? It got so mad that it stretched out its arm trying to stop a speeding car. If paying attention to something gets too extreme. He didn’t dare give them whole carcasses of animals. It was so big that an ox standing behind it wouldn’t be visible. and will soon come to an end. Sightseers were packed together as if in a marketplace. then love gets lost. Tigers are a different species than people. He filled up baskets with its excrement. and the guy tried to slap it away. arrived at the town of Qu Yuan where he saw an oak tree that served as a local shrine. A mosquito or horsefly landed near the horse’s tail. Its branches extended out for eighty feet. he could keep the violence in their hearts calmed down. on his way to the state of Qi. thus smashing the guy’s head to the ground and crushing his chest with its hoof. and they have to be coaxed by their trainer in order to become docile. When his assistant had his fill of gazing at it. Therefore. It didn’t know that it didn’t have the ability to do that.
and it’s been a big help to me.” When carpenter Shi returned home. were you not even willing to look at it. and although I almost died. They have a painful life. Use it to make tools. Why. That’s why it’s been able to grow so old. and is completely useless. and they’d quickly rot. Use it to make a boat.on which the fruit hang down like gourds? When their fruit ripens. nothing seems to escape that. they’re stripped and left naked.“I’ve been carrying this heavy axe around and following you. and the small branches are torn to shreds. the oak used as a shrine appeared to him in a dream and said: “With what else would you choose to compare me? Would you compare me with trees that have intricately fine grains? Or with the peach. Use it to make any kind of door and the knotholes would let in moisture. Just by the nature of what they are they’re open to the assaults of the vulgar world. The large branches are broken. pear. and it would sink. what’s the point in estimating something by its appearance? Yet a defective person like you who’s nearly dead has the nerve to point out defects in a tree?” . I’d been trying to find out how to be useless for a long time. Master. That wood isn’t good for anything. Use it to make a fence post and it’d be infested with worms. sir. now I’ve figured it out. how could I have managed to grow this huge? Since you and I are connected just like everything else. tangerine. Use it to make coffins. grapefruit . If I’d made myself to be of any use whatsoever. and we haven’t yet seen such great building material until now. and they’d quickly fall apart. and thus they don’t live out their natural life span but come to a premature end in the middle of their time. but just kept walking on?” “Stop it! Don’t say another word! The wood of that tree is defective. Of living things.
Zi Qi said: “What kind of tree is this? It must be very strange timber!” He turned his face up and looked at its thin branches which were so bent and twisted that they couldn’t be used as rafters and beams. but come to a premature . If it didn’t allow itself to be treated like a shrine. A group of a thousand chariots could be hidden under the cover of its shade. and it stung his mouth and left a sore. then why does it continue to be a shrine?” “Shush! Don’t say another word! It’s only resting there. Zi Qi said: “This tree really is incapable of providing anything useful. His assistant asked: “If it was so intent on being useless. That’s how it’s been able to grow so large. any cruelty toward it is averted. they don’t live out their natural life span.Carpenter Shi woke up and related the story in his dream. Those trees that have grown so large that you can’t get both hands around their trunks are cut down by people who want to make posts to tie up their monkeys. He touched one of the leaves to his tongue. By acting like it doesn’t know what it is. Those seven or eight spans around are chopped down by officials and rich merchants to make sides for their family altars. Therefore. Those that are three or four spans around are chopped down by people to make decorations for their palatial homes. but if it was judged by how it could be used in a more conventional way. there’d be many who’d want to chop it down! It provides a place where many different kinds of people can feel protected. he saw a large and unusual tree. Aha! A holy person would be just as incapable!” In the state of Song there’s an area called Jing Shi. He smelled it then became like a mad man and had a hangover for more than three days. cypress and mulberry trees. He bent down and looked at the tree’s roots which were so gnarled and knotty that they couldn’t be used to make coffins. it wouldn’t have gotten this far!” When Nan Bo Zi Qi (Exalted Count of Southern Darkness) was traveling in the hills of Shang (Busy Metropolis). where there are catalpas.
By beating the husk off rice and sorting it. When the emperor sent out officials to round up a group of laborers. If a person who’s been denied a normally formed body from birth can still find a way to feed himself and live out his natural life span. the top of his spine was like a finger pointing to the sky. these are the things a holy man considers to be very lucky. as it’s considered to bring bad luck. When the emperor sent out officials to round up an army from the civilian population. That’s the trouble with having material value. and both of his thigh bones were forced up next to his ribs. By mending and washing clothes he was able to make enough to feed himself. and people who are suffering from diarrhea can’t be used in the River Sacrifices. then so too should someone who’s been denied Virtue! .end by the use of axes and hatchets in the middle of their growth. pigs with turned up snouts. his five vital organs protruded to the outside. when preparing for a sacrificial offering. his shoulders were higher than the top of his head. oxen with white foreheads. His chin was hidden in his bellybutton. There was a deformed man called Shu (Dislocated). he was able to make enough to feed ten people. he was excused because he constantly got sick and didn’t have any stamina. Therefore. he received three times as much as anyone else as well as ten bundles of firewood. he was excused when he exposed his deformed body. On the other hand. This is something all respected shamans know about. When the emperor sent out officials to distribute food to the ill and sickly.
Good fortune is as light as a feather. one can only expect to escape punishment. By its own nature. In this day and age.When Kong Zi (Confucius) traveled to the state of Chu. Stop! Stop evaluating people by their Virtue! Danger! It’s dangerous to draw a line in the sand and rush over to your side! Enchanted by the light. When the world has Dao. When the world doesn’t have Dao. Varnish is useful. walked up to his outer gate and said: “Phoenix! Phoenix! (a bird of good omen) How much Virtue has declined! We can’t wait for the future to sort it out. Jie Yu (Car Accident Victim). cooking oil is used up in a frying pan. Sages come to life. but no one knows how to carry it. mountain trees are cut down. . and we can’t chase after the past. My own path may seem distastefully crooked. Everyone knows the usefulness of the useful. but no one knows how to avoid it. A cinnamon tree is edible. Sages rest on their laurels. so the trees that produce it are tapped. Misfortune is as heavy as dirt. so it’s cut down. the madman of Chu. but at least I haven’t harmed my feet!” By their own nature. So enchanted by the light it’s a wonder we haven’t harmed our paths. but no one knows the usefulness of the useless.
throughout the state of Lu. has as many followers as you do. He has throngs of followers. How can someone who’s unconcerned with teaching with words and has a mutilated body still have a completed heart? What kind of person is he?” . and when he sits down he doesn’t carry on discussions. Chang Ji (Ordinary Younger Brother) asked Zhong Ni: “Wang Tai. When he stands up he doesn’t preach. Master. about the same number as Zhong Ni (Confucius). Those who go to him empty return fulfilled.The Inner Chapter Five: Calculations on Filfilling Virtue In the state of Lu there’s a person named Wang Tai (Great Lame Horse) who lost one of his feet. who has lost a foot (by amputation as punishment for a crime).
I’m always so behind the times that I haven’t had a chance yet to go and listen to him. yet not be persuaded to follow what others do.” . and doesn’t look for what they’re lacking. but they don’t affect him. He can examine carefully what’s flawless. Even if heaven and earth were to crumble and fall. At that point. He regards losing his foot as though he was shaking off a clump of mud. He looks at the unity of things. yet he guards what they put stock in. If you look at things from the point of view of their similarities. How can a person like that remain so single-hearted?” Zhong Ni said: “Much is made of death and life. such a person not only doesn’t evaluate things with his ears and eyes. not even that would shake him up. and surely those who aren’t the least bit like me would do the same. yet he’s a respected teacher.” Chang Ji said: “That guy’s missing a foot. but lets his heart and mind float with the harmony of his own nature. which makes him quite extraordinary. then all living things share a unity. I’ll go learn from him. His fate is different from other things. then the liver and gall bladder are as far apart as the states of Chu and Yue.” Chang Ji asked: “What do you mean by that?” Zhong Ni said: “If you look at things from the point of view of their differences. Why should it be limited to the state of Lu? I’ll attract the whole world to follow him.Zhong Ni said: “This Master is a Sage.
and use his heart to achieve a sense of durability in his heart. who’d lost a foot (as punishment for having committed a crime). to observe clearly using their eyes and ears. to being compensated by all living things. and if people followed after him. The only goal that kind of person has in mind is seeking to make a name for himself. and Zi Chan of Zheng (Prime Minister of Zheng) both had Bo Hun Wu Ren (Professor Confused Nonentity) as their teacher. as everyone’s true course has been set from birth. only Yao and Shun could remain true to their own course . only the pine and cypress could remain on their own course staying green in both summer and winter. and to never allow their mind to deteriorate! That kind of person would just get up and leave one day. Feeling secure from danger at the beginning of his journey. to know the unity of their awareness. but they can see their reflections in still water. Complying with what was fated from the earth. . Why do others want to be sheltered by him?” Zhong Ni replied: “There’s no way for people to see their reflections in running water.being able to lead all living things. what would he care about what anyone else was doing?” Shen Tu Jia (Admired Straightforward Student). to align all the limbs of their body. not fearing what will happen to him. he’s able to achieve an understanding of his heart. Multitudes of people can only be stilled by staying still. one brave soldier would feel powerful enough to penetrate nine armies.Chang Ji said: By losing his own sense of separateness. Suppose someone set their mind to being controled by both the heavens and the earth. Complying with what was fated by the heavens. If one is lucky they can realize their true course has been set from birth.
Who’s really the guilty person here?” Zi Chan said: . If dust has settled. but you’re still able to speak like you did. you’ve come to seek guidance from our great Master. Zi Chan said to Shen Tu Jia: “If I leave first. and you’ll be faultless. then I’ll wait and go later. Now I’m about to leave. then you wait and go later. If you leave first. then no dust has settled on it. so can you wait a while? Why would you refuse? When you come across a Prime Minister and don’t obey him.’ Now. then you wait and go later.” The next day both of them were again sitting on the same mat in the hall.Zi Chan said to Shen Tu Jia: “If I leave first. then it’s not bright. If you leave first. then I’ll wait and go later. is that because you think you’re equal to him?” Shen Tu Jia said: “Can there be a Prime Minister as rude as this within my teacher’s gates? You think simply because you’ve been appointed Prime Minister that other people should cater to you? There’s a well-known saying: ‘If a mirror is bright. Spend a lot of time with someone who’s upright.
saying: “You don’t have to say another word. When someone who has both feet laughs at me because I don’t have as many feet as they have. If they’re standing there right out in the open and still don’t get hit by the arrow. only a person with a clear heart can do that. How can I know if my master’s bathed me in goodness. One might wander into the middle of a field where Yi is practicing archery.“You’ve already gotten yourself into this situation (losing a foot). Zhong Ni said: .” In the state of Lu there’s a mutilated man named Shu Shan the Toeless. or if I’ve just settled down peacefully on my own? I’ve been following my Master for nineteen years. I get angry and go into a rage. but you keep trying to separate us by excluding me due to my outer appearance. There are some people who don’t have the appearance of committting a crime even though they were guilty. But when I come to visit my teacher. and he still hasn’t acknowledged the fact that I’ve lost a foot. then I calm down and change my attitude. Now you and I are connected by something much deeper than how many appendages we each have. that’s destiny. he came to see Zhong Ni (Confucius). Why don’t you take a cold hard look at yourself and see if you can come up with anything virtuous there at all?” Shen Tu Jia said: “There are lots of people who have the appearance of having committed a crime even though they weren’t guilty. yet you still think you could compete with Yao as to which of you is better. Who’s really the guilty person here?” Zi Chan. To realize that certain things can’t be changed and quietly accept destiny. changed his attitude and took on a new demeanor. Walking on his heels. taken aback.
I thought you were a Master of the heavens and earth. How much more so should those who think they have perfect Virtue!” Toeless told this story to Lao Dan (Laozi) and then said: . Kong Zi said to his attentive disciples: “That man was mutilated by having his toes chopped off. why don’t you come on in? Please allow me to explain to you what I have to share. What’s the point of coming to see me now!” Toeless said: “It was only because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing and took my body lightly that I lost part of my feet. and by committing crimes you brought this disaster on yourself. There’s nothing the earth doesn’t bear the burden of. Master. that you could treat me this way!” Kong Zi (Confucius) said: “That was really narrow-minded of me. but he still wants to take on the task of looking back and learning from his previous mistakes. Where’s your knowledge. striving to keep what I have remaining of my body whole. There’s nothing the heavens doesn’t cover with a protective shield.” Toeless left. Now I come here showing as much respect as someone who has feet. Sir.“You weren’t careful in the first place.
When unmarried women saw him. is he? Why do so many disciples keep treating him as though he were a respected guest? He’s seeking to become famous by being considered extraordinary and unusual. wouldn’t it?” Toeless said: “Since he thinks his punishment is coming from the heavens. nor does he earn the kind of money that would allow him to support anyone. Doesn’t he know that a perfected person would view being treated that way as being shackled?” Lao Dan said: “Why not straighten him out by showing him how life and death are linked on a single branch. and he didn’t know anything other than what went on in his immediate environment. He blended with others but didn’t speak out for himself.“I thought Kong was a perfected person. He’s never been known to speak out for himself. how could he possibly be released!” Duke Ai of the state of Lu asked Zhong Ni (Confucius): “There was an ugly man in the state of Wei named Ai Tai Ta (Sad-Looking Horse Face). he’s probably the ugliest person in the whole world. The adult men who hung out with him thought so highly of him that they couldn’t leave his presence. . but he’s not there yet. and how approval and disapproval are linked on a single thread? That would release him from his shackles.’ That happened dozens of times and keeps happening over and over. Besides that. but always blends harmoniously with other people and that’s all. they’d beg their parents: ‘I’d rather be that man’s concubine than the wife of a well-to-do gentleman. He’s never been in a position of authority that would allow him to save anyone from death.
something they once placed a lot of importance on had vanished. How much more so would that be for someone who’d perfected their virtue! Now Ai Tai Ta didn’t need to say a word. A man who’s acquired a wife no longer needs to adorn his outer appearance nor seek a higher position (make themselves more attractive in order to get a wife). I demanded that he come to me so I could have a look at him. What sort of person was he?” Zhong Ni said: “I was once on a mission to the state of Chu. but you completely trusted him. they have no need for a fancy coffin or funeral. I offered him the job. I was so embarrassed that I immediately turned over the position to him. as though he was looking for a reason to decline. This guy must have some very unusual qualities. he left. “Those who’ve passed the requirements to become the Emperor’s assistants no longer need to file their nails or pierce their ears (make themselves outwardly attractive in order to gain prominence). When a person has lost their feet. In all the instances mentioned above. and I’ve come to trust him completely. as though there was nothing else that could bring me pleasure any more in the whole country. but a love of what her physical form could provide.yet males and females both found him compelling. He must have a great ability to be complete. even though his virtue wasn’t apparent in his outer form. In a short time they all withdrew from her and went away. When a soldier dies in battle. and along the way I saw some young piglets nursing on their dead mother. nor did she seem to be similar to them in any way. they have no reason to love shoes. Without even saying goodbye to me. He didn’t show any achievements. I was really sorry to lose him. and you were afraid he wouldn’t take the offer. As my state is without a Prime Minister. The love they had for their mother wasn’t based merely on loving her physical form. and determined that he surely must be the ugliest person in the world. He looked indecisive about how to respond. You wanted to give him your entire country. Their outer form was already sufficient enough to gain them acceptance. They no longer saw her as resembling themselves.” . He’s been here for almost a year. I also demanded that he stay with me for a month so I could get a better idea of what kind of person he was. but you wanted to keep him close to you.
Since there’s no way to base personal harmony on something so unpredictable. I’m afraid I have no substance whatsoever. Day and night follow each other and precede each other. That’s called having a great ability to be complete. and experience eternal springtime with every living thing. Duke Ai explained this story to Min Zi (one of Confucius’ disciples): “I used to sit on my throne facing South (the direction a ruler’s throne faced) and ruled the whole world. no living thing would be able to be separated from it. Kong (Confucius) and I don’t relate to each other like ruler and servant . Welcome every moment with the fullness of your heart. it shouldn’t have the ability to affect the storehouse of one’s spiritual powers. worth and worthlessness.those simply reflect how situations can change and are ordered by destiny.connect with it and don’t lose the joyfulness that comes from it.” On another day. I held in my hands the ability to determine the course of people’s lives. poverty and wealth. it’s displayed like a decoration. have taken too lightly the appearance my body gave off. accumulation and loss.we’re merely friends who share virtue. It can be a great example.” . praise and blame. When virtue has succeeded in creating harmony. When virtue isn’t apparent from one’s outer form. Do this whether it’s day or night. it becomes level and still. failure and success. and thus could lose my country. I considered myself to be one who had attained expertise in everything.Duke Ai asked: “What do you mean by a great ability to be complete?” Zhong Ni said: “Death and life. and grieved at their deaths.” “What’s meant by having a virtue that isn’t apparent by one’s outer form?” “When water has reached its full capacity. Participate in what really causes harmony . Now that I’ve heard the words of a true expert. hot and cold . but human knowledge is incapable of regulating them. as it protects what’s within and allows evaporation of what’s on the surface. hunger and thirst.
A man with a club foot. . If people remember what was forgotten. Large and great . when virtue is predominant. virtue promotes intimacy. Duke Huan was so won over by the guy that he thought anyone who would be considered to have a perfect form would have to have the same neck and shoulders as him. why would she need to use people? She has a human form but is without human sentimentality. She’s without human sentimentality. Since she receives this nourishment from the heavens. therefore she’s classified as a person. Therefore. and then forget what was remembered . a person’s physical form is forgotten. a wise person goes wandering and sees that knowledge promotes misfortune. A man with a goiter on his neck as big as a huge jar explained his theories to Duke Huan of Qi. so what use is there for business? These four are the gruel (meager provisions) provided by the heavens.that can be called true forgetting. so what use is there for virtue? Doesn’t barter. Duke Ling was so won over by the guy that he thought anyone who would be considered to have a perfect form would have to have the same neck and shoulders as him. One who has the gruel of the heavens is nourished by the heavens.her single accomplishment is with the heavens. work promotes business. so what use is there for knowledge? Doesn’t chop things apart. so what use is there for bonding? Is without alienation. Insignificant and small .that’s the way she’s classified by humanity. and who had no lips explained his theories to Duke Ling of Wei. promises promote bondage. She has a human form. a stooped posture. A wise person doesn’t scheme. Therefore. therefore judgments about right and wrong can’t affect her.
how could they be called a person?” Zhuangzi replied: “Dao gives him his demeanor. the heavens give him a physical shape. how could he not have sentimentality?” Zhuangzi said: “Having a sense of right and wrong is what I call sentimentality. Someone I’d refer to as being without sentimentality . how would they still be able to have a body?” Zhuangzi said: . They would constantly follow what naturally occurs without looking to profit from life.” Hui Zi said: “If someone doesn’t look to profit from life.” Hui Zi said: “If a person has no sentimentality.Hui Zi said to Zhuangzi: “Are there humans without sentimentality?” Zhuangzi replied: “There are.that kind of person wouldn’t allow his likes and dislikes to cause physical harm to his body. so how could he not be called a person?” Hui Zi said: “Since it’s already been determined he’s a person.
All the while you’re leaning against a tree grunting. and you use it to chirp about pointless arguments. yet laboring to refine your spiritual essence.” . drifting off into a stupor under this tall shade tree. you’re remaining outside of your spirit. The heavens chose this physical shape for you. Now.“Dao gives him his demeanor and the heavens give him a physical shape. but they don’t create in him a way for likes and dislikes to harm his body.
One who knows the actions of the heavens merges her life with the heavens. . One who knows the actions of people accepts that knowledge is a part of her intellect and increases that knowledge because she accepts her own ignorance.The Inner Chapter Six: Teachings from those who were Great who are no longer alive One who has knowledge about what actions are of the heavens and what actions are of people has reached attainment. In the end she will have lived out her natural life span and not have been cut down in the middle of her youth. She’s fulfilled every aspect of her knowledge.
his heart was adaptable. one has to become a true person before they can have true knowledge. This is called not using the mind to contribute to Dao. He didn’t feel a need to be gracious when he left. while other people’s breath only filled the top of their lungs. his forehead was unwrinkled. Someone like that could move from one situation to another with no regret. He didn’t forget where he began. and didn’t plan for a lucrative career. enter water without feeling wet. What is a true person? The true person of ancient times wasn’t opposed to the idea of being different than the rest of society. nor did he feel a need to be aloof when he entered. and what I think is coming from people isn’t coming from the heavens? Moreover. and measure up her self worth without becoming smugly self-satisfied. One gets to a certain point then starts questioning how far they’ve gotten. joy and anger flowed through him like the four seasons. A true person breathed all the way down to her heels. This kind of perception enables one to ascend on the tails of Dao. Having knowledge can only go so far and then it’s subject to measurements. but didn’t question where he’d end up. He could leave as swiftly as he arrived. and not using people to assist the heavens. Those who harbor old desires deeply within them leave only a shallow space for the heavens to maneuver. The true person of ancient times could sleep without dreaming. He celebrated what was received. How could I sort out whether what I think is coming from the heavens isn’t coming from people. his appearance was unruffled. there’s still something to be concerned about. could eat food without relishing in it. Being such. could awaken without anxiety. and there was nothing more to it. didn’t try to be macho. The true person of ancient times wasn’t aware of expressing joy in life.Even so. Someone like that could climb to dizzying heights without trembling in fear. With a coolness like autumn and a warmth like springtime. and could completely fill her lungs when breathing. That’s what was called a true person. He found contentment with all things and didn’t think about when he’d reach the . nor of feeling aversion to death. and recaptured what had been forgotten. and enter fire without feeling the heat. Those who bend over in submission seem to spew forth words from their mouths like vomit.
knowledge as opportunity. but didn’t grovel for favors. Because she regarded suffering as a compression of the body. She was so inattentive that she forgot what she was going to say. A true person of ancient times appeared to be acting properly. his country might be destroyed but the people’s hearts wouldn’t be lost. She had some rough edges. if a wise person has to resort to using weapons. She seemed to be lacking. and virtue as a means of protection. but they couldn’t be comfortable enough with their own natures to follow themselves. but didn’t superficially attract anything. Therefore. Shu Qi. even though she didn’t conform to the norm. She was extensively empty. The benefits would carry over to all the future generations. Xu Yu. One who loses himself seeking fame won’t be a good student. Ji Tuo. Therefore. Because she regarded rituals as flights of fancy. and Shen Tu Di (men who were moralists and reformers in ancient times who ended up being killed or committing suicide) were all in service to what other people served. trying to transfer happiness into other living things will not make one a sage. She regarded suffering as a compression of the body. When there was a new fad or trend she didn’t follow it. Experiencing intimate personal relationships will not make one benevolent. Trying to keep in time with the heavens will not make one worthy. Wu Guang. she . One who isn’t able to reconcile advantage with disadvantage will not be a good ruler. Hu Bu Xie. she was gentle with reprimands. but wasn’t obstinate. One who inadvertently loses his body won’t be good at serving others. rituals as flights of fancy. She seemed harsh to those of her own generation! She was so diverse that there was no way to control her. Ji Zi. but not because of his love for any person. agreeably followed what other people followed.pinnacle. Bo Yi. What she was willing to concede stopped with her own virtue. She brightly lit up everything around her as though she was ecstatic! She soared like an eagle as though there was no need to find a place to land! Her facial expression took on a glowing quality.
Death and life are destined. There are certain things a person can’t do anything about. They moisten each other with their saliva and splatter each other with foam. she encouraged others to walk on their own feet in order to reach the pinnacle and people genuinely attended to what they were involved with. Rather than to praise Yao and condemn Jie. Being united is unity. cradles us in our old age. around midnight a strong person might come . They’re as certain as the the sky progressing from night into dawn. she followed people. and she united with what wasn’t enjoyable. There might be something even more effective than that! When a stream dries up the fish gather together in a crater on the land. So. it would be better to forget both of them and how different their Ways were. and provides a place to rest our bodies after we die. Being united. It’d be better for them to be swimming freely in rivers and lakes than to be concerned with havng to do these things to keep each other alive. but he believes it’s in a secure place. but their bodies eventually die anyway. When the heavens and people join together. which would be like trying to hide a mountain in a swamp. Because she regarded virtue as a means of protection. what’s good at keeping us alive will also be good at providing a place for us to die. Therefore. there’s no need for one to be victorious over the other. Being not united. she united with what was enjoyable. and not being united is unity. struggles to keep us alive. Because she regarded knowledge as an opportunity. Even so. All living things are in that situation. A true person is said to be like this. A man may try to hide away a boat in a gully. she followed the heavens. she used what was available in dealing with her affairs.went along with the times. There might be something even above that! People set up someone who they believe has special powers to heal them. There are those who set up a special figure as the Father of the Heavens (God) and are only able to love the image they have of him as a person. The great clump of earth (the world) is loaded down with our physical forms.
Whether it’s better to die young or to live to an old age. Hiding something small within something larger might seem like the appropriate thing to do. but can’t be perceived. as though they’re waiting for one thing to come along and change everything! Dao expresses itself and provides evidence of itself.people just keep looking for ways to find meaning in those things. but can’t be measured by time. Since it was so dark outside. It’s like everyone is looking for more things to be concerned about. It provided vital energy for both demons and gods. Fu Xi got it and found the key to the breath of Mother Nature. but doesn’t become old. However. It was so ancient that it was there before anything existed. and those changes might not necessarily ever come to an end. whether things will start out good or end up good . The clansman Shi of Wei got it so as to support the heavens and earth. a wise person will travel where things take them rather than trying to constrain things where they don’t belong. It was around from the most remote ages. . It doles out things. It reaches lower than the core of the earth. and they’d be pleased about that. It was rooted in itself and grew from its own roots before there was a universe. It can enter within you. Is there pleasure to be found in counting the victories? Therefore. It began before the heavens and earth. no one would know. but doesn’t become deep. Someone might have an especially attractive body. It gave life to both the heavens and the earth. Living things are already constantly in this great situation. there would be no place left for anything to be removed to. but doesn’t become tall. If a man were to hide everything in the world within the world.along and hoist the boat onto his shoulders and walk away with it. but not by taking actions or showing a shape. a human shape can be changed by any number of things. It reaches higher than the ether of the sky. yet anything could still be carted off. but doesn’t take anything back.
No one knows where it (this mountain) begins or ends. Then he suddenly was in control of the whole empire. Peng Zu got it and was able to live from the time of the beginning of the Zhou dynasty through the succession of five rulers (five lifetimes for most people). Xi Wang Mu got it and sat on Shao Guang.Wei Dou (a star in the constellation Sagittarius considered to be the center point of our galaxy) got it so as to eternally stay true to its course. perching on the hand of Sagittarius and riding into Scorpio’s basket as though he was a shooting star. Nan Bo Zi Qi (Exalted Count of Southern Curiosity) asked of Nu Yu (Independent Woman): “You’re old in years. said to have a human face and the body of an animal) got it so as to penetrate the Kun Lun mountains. Kan Pi (a spirit. Fu Yue got it so as to become Prime Minister to Wu Ding. Why is that?” “Ive learned about Dao. Zhuan Xu got it so as to dwell in the Black Palace.” Nan Bo Zi Qi said: “Can Dao be obtained through studying?” . Ping Yi (a spirit of the Yellow River) got it so as to travel through the great river. Jian Wu (a mountain spirit) got it so as to dwell on Mount Tai. The sun and moon got it so as to constantly keep moving. Huang Di got it so as to rise up into the clouds in the heavens. but your face beams like a child. Yu Qiang (god of the North Sea) got it and stood on the North Pole.
I really wanted to teach him. I still kept at him. he could then see each thing individually. After nine days he could disregard life. After seven days he could disregard living things. There was a guy named Bu Liang Yi (Rigidly Biased Fortuneteller) who had the ability to become a sage. What kills life isn’t death. Nan Bo Zi Qi asked: “Are you the only one who’s heard about this?” “I heard about this from Master of Various Texts. I still kept at him. but don’t have the ability to become a sage. Master of Various Texts heard about it from Oral Tradition. he could then enter where there is no death and no birth. A name for this would be Embracing Contentment. Being able to overcome a sense of past and future.embraces and then becomes complete. One who embraces contentment . Humble Servant heard about it from Oblivious Chanter. Yet I kept a close watch on him and tried to explain it. Oblivious Chanter heard about it from . After three days he could disregard the world.“What? How could that be posssible? You’re not the kind of person who could do that anyway. I’m wise enough to learn about Dao. he could then overcome a sense of past and future. without rejecting. As for how he related to things . without constructing. he could then penetrate everything like the first rays of sun in the morning. After he disregarded life. Being able to see each thing individually. Oh. without destroying. Oral Tradition heard about it from Clear Sightedness. After he disregarded living things. Being able to penetrate everything like the first rays of sun in the morning.without following. what great hopes I had that he’d end up becoming a true sage! It’s not so easy to change one who has the ability to become a sage into one who is wise enough to learn about Dao simply by explaining it to them. Clear Sightedness heard about it from Midday Whisperer. After he disregarded the world. What brings forth life isn’t birth. but wasn’t wise enough to learn about Dao. Midday Whisperer heard about it from Humble Servant.
looked at his image in the water and said: “Ugh! Look at this thing I’ve been turned into. his heart was clear and he didn’t seem concerned. his chin was hidden in his bellybutton.” Zi Si (Great Sacrificial Attendant). and how inflexible and stiff it is. Even though his vital energy seemed to be completely out of whack. his shoulders were higher than the top of his head. Dark Mysteries heard about it from Solitary Star. Zi Si went to see how he was doing. Zi Li (Great Ploughman) and Zi Lai (Great Messenger) all came together to have a chat saying: “Who can consider what doesn’t exist as his head.then I could use it to tell when it was nighttime. surviving and perishing. Solitary Star heard about it from Uncertain Beginning.then I could ride on it. Supposing my right arm gradually turned into a crossbow . What need would I have for any other means of transportation! . and they they knew they’d formed a deep friendship with each other. Zi Yu got sick.then I could use it to shoot down a bird to roast. Supposing my buttocks gradually turned into a wheel and my spirit into a horse .” Zi Si asked: “Do you hate it?” “What’s the point in hating what’s been taken away or what’s been given to me! Supposing my left arm gradually turned into a chicken . Some time later.Dark Mysteries. I’d like to take them as a friend. and his fingers were curved into hooks that pointed up to the sky. “How remarkable! This thing I’ve been turned into. are part of the same whole. that’s become so inflexible and stiff!” His back had become curved and hunched. his five vital organs protruded to the outside.” The four of them all looked at each other and laughed. They felt a profound intimacy with each other in their hearts. He dragged himself over to the well. Zi Yu (Great Charioteer). life as his spine and death as his buttocks? Whoever knows that life and death.
east. and for those who can’t find a release. Therefore.“Furthermore. that which is good at keeping me alive will also be good at providing a place for me to die. he’s directed by them as though they were his father and mother. and the metal jumped up at him and said: ‘I absolutely must be made into Mo Ye (a famous ancient Chinese double edged sword)’. whatever is received comes at the right time. panting and gasping while near death. What reason could I find for hatred!” Some time later. His wife and children were grouped around him sobbing. and provides a place to rest my body after I die. This is what’s been called being released from bondage. south and north converge at a point that sets the destiny he must follow. the . Zi Lai became ill. How silly to look at this as some sort of crime that’s been committed! The great clump of earth (the world) is loaded down with my physical form. Zi Li went to see how he was doing and said to them: “Shame on you! Get away from him! Don’t show sadness . Now if a great blacksmith was pounding some metal. living things can’t be victorious over what Nature has been causing to occur since the beginning of time. Calmly accepting and dwelling in compliance. and if I try to prevent it then I’m being foolhardy. west. then neither grief nor joy would be able to creep in.” He then leaned against the door jamb and said to his friend: “How remarkable! The changes you’re experiencing! What will you become next . cradles me in my old age.he’s merely going through changes.what will you turn into? Will you become a rat’s liver? Will you become an insect’s arm?” Zi Lai said: “When a father and mother produce a child. struggles to keep me alive. Whatever has been lost must be adapted to. When those multiple energies within a person converge. They’ve brought me close to death. Besides. there will always be something to put them into bondage.
travel on the mist. if I were ever to try to go against the shape my form has taken and say: ‘Make me a whole person. When he had not yet been buried. then Mother Nature would think that this person was an ill omen.blacksmith would think that piece of metal was an ill omen. nothing but a whole person’. we just as naturally suddenly wake up. One of them said: “Who can join with others while not joining with others. Kong Zi (Confucius) heard about it and sent Zi Gong (a disciple of Confucius) to go see what was going on. Now. Feeling a profound intimacy with each other in their hearts. They sang together: “Oh. stirring up things without any end in sight. One of the friends was composing a tune while the other was playing music. act with others while not acting with others? Who can ascend to the heavens. Not long after that Zi Sang Hu died. Sang Hu has arrived! . Sang Hu has arived! “Oh.” Zi Sang Hu (Great Silkworm Cultivator). where is it that we shouldn’t go? As naturally as we fall into a sound sleep. Now. all the while forgetting about life without getting exhausted?” The three of them all looked at each other and laughed. Meng Zi Fan (Elder Great Mercenary) and Zi Qin Zhang (Great Lute Stringer) were three friends who got along well with each other. and Mother Nature is like a master blacksmith. they knew they’d formed a deep friendship with each other. if the universe is like one great big oven.
They consider life to be an insignificant attachment hanging there like a wart. “While we’re still serving as humans!” Zi Gong rushed into the room and asked: “How in the world could you both be singing over a dead body . whereas I wander within the limits set by society. and it was stupid of me to send you there to console them. forget about their internal organs. They sit right next to the dead body singing without showing any signs of adapting their demeanor to the situation.is that proper conduct?” The two friends looked at each other and laughed.free and unfettered without acting like they have something to gain. What kind of people are they?” Kong Zi said: “They both wander around outside the set boundaries. then said: “How could that guy know what proper conduct is?” Zi Gong returned to tell Kong Zi what had happened: “What kind of people are those guys? They can’t even control their behavior and have no respect for their friend’s physical body. In that way they pace back and forth through the dust and dirt while not being affected by it . or be troubled about being observed by everybody else’s eyes and ears!” . Being that way. Those outside and those inside don’t mingle with each other. and they wander among the singular essence of the universe. how would they have any conception of life and death or past and future! They avail themselves of the strange anatomy of their bodies. and death to be the final removal of the ulcerated growth. in complete disorder. don’t pay much attention to their ears and eyes. How could they be troubled or anxious about society’s rules and mandates. and repeatedly experience endings and beginnings without having a clue what’s going on.“And already returned to his original being. rely on the harmony of their vessel. The only boundaries those two adhere to are those set on people by Nature.
People were established together in Dao. Therefore it’s been said: ‘Fish forget about each other when in rivers and streams. Those who are established together in water penetrate to the depths of a pond and find nourishment. Therefore it’s been said: ‘Someone who has little to do with Nature would be looked up to by people. but is tuned in to the heavens. he seems odd to other people. People forget about each other when on the path of Dao. why do you rely on the boundaries?” “I’m the heaven’s sacrificial lamb. That’s something I could share with you.” Kong Zi said: “Fish were established together in water.” Zi Gong said: “Then I’d appreciate hearing more about boundaries. Master.’ “ Yan Hui asked Zhong Ni (Confucius): .’ “ Zi Gong said: “May I ask about the non-conformist?” “As for the nonconformist.Zi Gong said: “That being so. Those who are established together in Dao don’t cater to others and their lives are easier. Someone who is looked up to by people would have little to do with Nature.
“When Meng Sun Cai’s mother died. giving the appearance that one’s heart was broken. for one. and mourned without wailing. nor about what’s going to happen in the future. Meng Sun doesn’t think much about life. does that mean that perceptions will stop changing? Maybe you and I are peculiar in that we’re dreaming and haven’t yet awakened? “That guy (Meng Sun) was startled by the transformation of a shape (his mother’s death). but his heart wasn’t damaged by it. he wept without shedding a tear. if limitations eventually change. By being at ease with what’s been taken away. and isn’t affected . He doesn’t think much about what happened in the past. He seems to adapt to whatever happens around him. How can someone who’s evidently so superficial to their core still receive accolades? I. Mr. find this astonishing.) Zhong Ni said: “Mr.” (Note: Part of the rituals mandated in China at the time considered to be proper behavior at a funeral were the three mentioned above: Crying uncontrolably while shedding many tears. Although he didn’t do any of those three things. He dwells where each moment is like a new dawn. nor does he think much about death. how can perceptions not change along with them? If limitations remain the same. By waiting for events to come about on their own without trying to figure them out. that shows a bit of being at ease. and wailing loudly at the loss. Meng Sun has reached a pinnacle! He’s advanced beyond mere knowledge. didn’t feel sadness in the center of his heart. he’s still thought of as the best mourner in the state of Lu. he’s already adapted to them! “Moreover.
That’s because he can put himself in their place. So how could I really know about myself simply by listening to the words I speak? You might dream you’re a bird and soar up into the sky.’ “ Xu You said: “Then why have you driven all the way out here? Since the Great Yao has already stained you with ideas about benevolence and righteousness. Mr. Meng Sun is uniquely awake. We can’t tell whether the words we’re using are based on being awake or if they’re coming from a dream. Moreover. If people cry. Trace of a Beard) went to see Xu You (a legendary hermit).only then can one enter into the boundless unity of Nature. but I’d still like to check out that kind of path by walking along side it. or dream you’re a fish and sink to the bottom of a deep pond. how will you be able to wander in many directions. Xu You said: “How has Yao enriched you?” Yi Er Zi replied: “Yao told me: ‘You must bow down with benevolence and righteousness while speaking clearly about Right and Wrong.emotionally by death.” Xu You said: . Faked laughter isn’t as good as the kind that naturally erupts. swinging freely with reckless abandon. “Trying to make a situation more pleasant isn’t as good as laughing out loud. he too cries. and stunted you with ideas about Right and Wrong. Be comfortable with those eruptions and give up trying to modify them .” Yi Er Zi (Mr. spinning down a path that constantly moves?” Yi Er Zi replied: “You might be right. he can make connections beyond what I can hear with my own ears.
but not because that’s benevolent. Ju Liang lost all sense of his strength. but not because that’s a special skill.“That’s not remotely possible. “Promoted clarity throughout all generations. . A blind man can’t truly appreciate the pleasures of seeing beautiful things and outstanding colors. you never can tell. making me able to ride along with you and follow you as my teacher?” Xu You said: “Humph! But then. “Increased from the beginning of time. All of them eventually became refined by picking up on what was sent out.” Yi Er Zi said: “Wu Zhuang lost all sense of her beauty. but not because that’s righteous. Huang Di abandoned all sense of his knowledge. I’ll give you the general outline of what I’d say to you: “My teacher! My Teacher! “Gave to all living things. How can I know if some great force might come along and get rid of my stains and replace what was stunted. One who has impaired eyesight can’t even tell the difference between green and yellow embroidery on a robe. “Enabled the universe to contain all the shapes which have been cut and carved. but not because that’s admirable.
” On another day they met again and Hui said: “I’ve reached a new plateau in my cultivation.” Zhong Ni (Confucius) asked: “What do you mean by that?” “I’ve fogotten all about benevolence and righteousness.” Zhong Ni perked up at this and asked: “What do you mean by sitting in forgetfulness?” .” “What do you mean by that?” “I sit in forgetfulness. but you’re still not finished.” Yan Hui said: “I’ve reached a new plateau in my cultivation.” “What do you mean by that?” “I’ve forgotten all about rituals and celebrations” “That’s great.” On another day they met again and Hui said: “I’ve reached a new plateau in my cultivation.“From this place begin your wandering.” “That’s great. but you’re still not finished.
Any knowledge has evaporated as well as any sense of my own shape. then you’d be without preferences. but I can’t figure it out. then you’d easily change. Zi Yu went into the house and said: “I’ve just heard the lyrics to your song.” . “Zi Sang might have gotten sick!” So he packed up some food and went to feed his friend. What are you trying to say?” “I was just wondering what’s caused me to get to such an extreme state. as though the lyrics were so rushed that parts were missing. Would my father and mother have wanted me to end up so poor? The heavens are impartial as to what it will protect. As a result. When there had been a continuous downpour for ten days. The earth is impartial as to what it will support. Why would the heavens and the earth make me in particular so poor? I keep asking what it is that’s done this to me. he heard what sounded like something between a song and wailing. My intelligence and cleverness become overshadowed by darkness. That’s what I mean by sitting in forgetfulness.” Zi Yu (Great Charioteer) and Zi Sang (Great Silkworm Cultivator) were friends. it must be due to destiny. A voice accompanied by a drum and lute sang out: “Father? Mother? The heavens! Mankind!” The sounds were all jumbled and didn’t seem to make sense. Transforming in that way. I feel embraced by a great openness. but I can’t get an answer. When he reached Zi Sang’s door. Zi Yu said. If it can just happen that one could reach this extreme state. you’ve become almost a Sage! I beg you to allow me to take you as my teacher and follow you.Yan Hui replied: “My bones seem to droop like branches overloaded with fruit.” Zhong Ni said: “Being embraced in that way.
.The Inner Chapter Seven: Responding to (Complying with) Emperors and Kings Nie Que (Cracked and Missing Teeth) asked Wang Ni (Master of Bewilderment) four questions. Cattail Coat) about it. Nie Que jumped up with great delight and ran to tell Pu Yi Zi (Mr. and four times he (Wang Ni) said he didn’t know.
a bird can soar very high to avoid being harmed by an arrow. As for Clansman Tai. Moreover. Kuang Jie Yu asked: “What did Ri Zhong Shi (Sleeps Until Midday) tell you?” Jian Wu replied: “He told me that a ruler should wrap himself up in what has been prescribed as righteousness to the fullest degree.” . but are they really? Then one may simply look for proper behavior and stop there. and he’d never even consider the faults of others.” Jian Wu went to see Kuang Jie Yu (Lunatic Hit by a Chariot). it would be like trying to wade across the ocean. would they simply expect to see an outer appearance of compliance? Things may appear to be attuned.Pu Yi Zi said: “Is this something new to you? Clansman You Yu (Emperor Shun) wasn’t as good as Clansman Tai (a legendary ruler. If a wise person were to set out to govern anything. As for Clansman You Yu. A gopher can dig very deep into the earth beneath a sacred hill to avoid the risk of being dug up. There was a time those two creatures didn’t need to have that kind of knowledge. he still hid behind benevolence in order to coerce people. People wouldn’t dare to ignore what he said and would all be transformed!” Jie Yu said: “That would be like browbeating them with virtue. If that’s the way someone tries to govern the world. possibly Fu Xi). His knowledge was sensitively honesty. but he could never give up seeing the faults of people. In one moment he could become a horse and in the next moment become an ox. he would lie down completely at ease and wake up refreshed. In that way he got what he wanted from the people. his virtue was extremely genuine. trying to carve a channel through a river or trying to make a mosquito carry a mountain on its back.
I can become like a small bird and peek through tall grass. Why would you come around here asking me about setting the world in order as though I have any feelings in my heart about that?” He (Tian Gen) repeated the question. When he reached the top of a foaming waterfall. he came upon a nondescript man and asked: “Excuse me. and travel around without wondering where my neighborhood is.” . Wherever I happen to be at the moment would be like an open countryside. so the nondescript man said: “You wander light-heartedly. adopt an indifferent attitude. spontaneously go along with things and don’t hold on to your self-image. Then the world would be governed properly.Tian Gen (Firmly Planted in the Heavens) was traveling along the sunny side of a fertile hill. Once I’m satisfied with that. I was just about to give myself over to the creator of things. not be restrained by the six directions. but may I ask you about how one can govern the world?” The nondescript man replied: “Go away! You’re a despicable person to have the nerve to ask me about something so unpleasant.
Because a monkey is easily trained and a yak is obedient. Could he be compared with the enlightened kings?” Lao Dan replied: “From the viewpoint of a Sage. Can those be compared with the enlightened kings?” This unsettled Yang Zi Ju. it’s the beautiful markings on tigers and leopards that cause them to be hunted. They stood on what happens naturally. he can easily diffuse their intensity. and wandered without a sense of their own existence. Whoever tries to get to him. That kind of person could exhaust their body and still have a frustrated heart.” . even a pettty person could easily practice those methods.Yang Zi Ju went to see Lao Dan (Laozi) and said: “There’s a person around here who can come down with any sort of illness yet remain as strong as a roof beam. Besides that. who then asked: “Can I ask you about the way the enlightened kings ruled?” Lao Dan replied: “The enlightened kings ruled by being able to prevail over the entire world but having no sense of their own self-importance. but without requiring the people to depend on them. He never tires in his learning about Dao. They had no reason to boost their own selfworth. They were able to change the way all living things dealt with each other. they’re both captured and taken advantage of. thus caused things to realize their own happiness.
Try to bring him back to see me again. When the people of Zheng saw him. who would be punished and who would receive blessings. When Lie Zi saw him. With a coop full of chickens but no fertile male. in an effort to get them to believe in it. but haven’t yet shared its practical applications. I saw something so strange about him .” The next day Lie Zi brought him to see Hu Zi.” Lie Zi went back into the house. month and day . he was fascinated. Try to get this guy to come over here with you so I can see what he’s up to.” .he looked like wet ashes. it’s no wonder you’re so easily taken in by other people. He probably saw that my natural workings were out of whack.In the state of Zheng there was a sorcerer called Ji Xian (One Who Can Influence the Seasons). they’d all run away as he approached.probably not for more than ten days. who would live a long life and who would die young. Master. Then I came across someone who’s even more perfected. crying so hard that his tears drenched the front of his shirt while he was telling Hu Zi what had been said. He knew when a person would die or be born. he (Ji Xian) told Lie Zi: “Oh dear! Sir. He could predict those things and pinpoint them to the year. and went to tell Hu Zi (Lie Zi’s teacher) about it: “At first I thought I could reach perfection by using your methods.” Hu Zi said: “I’ve already shared with you the literature. and yet you’re so sure you’ve grasped Dao.like a field of grass that’s unmoving with the blades bent over. what kind of eggs would be produced? By trying to adapt Dao to the exaggerations of this generation. your Master is on the verge of death. Hu Zi said: “While he was here I appeared to him like patterns on the earth . When they left. He won’t live much longer . who would survive and who would perish.as though he was truly connected with some spiritual force.
” The next day both of them came back to see Hu Zi. he (Ji Xian) told Lie Zi: “Sir. .” Lie Zi went back into the house and related this to Hu Zi. When he stabilizes a little. When they left. He probably saw that everything in me was working in fine order.” Lie Zi went back into the house and related this to Hu Zi. your Master is in disorder. I wasn’t concerned with fame or possessions. he (Ji Xian) told Lie Zi: “What good luck that your Master had a chance to meet me! He’s been completely healed. When they left. and now he’s going to live! I can see that those obstructions he was experiencing were only temporary. and all of my inner workings hummed like a fine machine. let me come back and check on him. Hu Zi said: “While he was here I appeared to him like dust in the sky.The next day both of them came back to see Hu Zi. I can’t make heads or tails out of his condition. Try to bring him back to see me again.
He saw disorder and rectification as one and the same until the end of his days. For three years he didn’t go anywhere. he only used his form as a means to stand erect. Try to bring him back to see me again. Still water can be examined in a deep pond. making myself like the wind or like a wave on the ocean. Becoming like a clod of dirt. He spent his time carving figurines and returning to a simple life. Flowing water can be examined in a deep pond. A large fish can be examined in a deep pond. . but couldn’t catch up. so he returned and told Hu Zi: “He’s already taken off. There are nine ways a deep pond can be be examined. and those are three of them.” The next day both of them came back to see Hu Zi. He had no outside relationships with the affairs of others. He spent time cooking at his wife’s oven. and I can’t find him anywhere. the man lost his composure and ran off. I made myself completely empty and compliant. That’s why he ran away.Hu Zi said: “This time I appeared to him like a large pipe in which nothing can become clogged. Before he had a chance to get settled. Hu Zi said: “Go find him!” Lie Zi ran after him.” After this happened Lie Zi considered himself to not yet have learned anything and decided to make a fresh start. and feeding the pigs in the same way he would feed people.” Hu Zi said: “This time I appeared to him as though I hadn’t yet been associated with any known species. He probably saw that there was nothing within me to be diagnosed. without having a clue as to who I was.
and wandering without a purpose.Without seeking to become famous after death. The Fixer and Nonchalant were trying to figure out a way to repay Chaos for his kindness. The Fixer and Nonchalant often met with each other on the territory of Chaos. Without a will or a face of its own. . The emperor of what lies between the two extremes is known as Hun Dun (Chaos [the primordal blob out of which heaven and earth divided] ). The emperor of Nan Hai (the South Sea) is known as Shu (The Fixer).and that’s all. Allowing emptiness to be regained . Endlessly receiving from the heavens. Endlessly allowing the body to be guided by the spirit within. The emperor of Bei Hai (the North Sea) is known as Hu (Nonchalant). and not looking for results. Without seeking to become an event planner. Without seeking to become a scheming politician. In that way they have the ability to win over things without harming them. A perfected person’s attention is like a mirror. Without seeking to become a smart ruler. and Chaos was very considerate towards them. Free flowing and unhidden.
“People all have seven apertures so they can see, hear, eat and breathe. He’s the only one without them, so let’s try and bore some for him.” Each day they bore one aperture into him. On the seventh day Chaos died.
Interpretation Chapter 1:
"Free and Easy Wandering"
The title of the first chapter of the Zhuangzi has also been translated as “Free and Easy Wandering” and “Going Rambling Without a Destination.” Both of these reflect the sense of the Daoist who is in spontaneous accord with the natural world, and who has retreated from the anxieties and dangers of social life, in order to live a healthy and peaceful natural life. In modern Mandarin, the word xiaoyao has thus come to mean “free, at ease, leisurely, spontaneous.” It conveys the impression of people who have given up the hustle and bustle of worldly existence and have retired to live a leisurely life outside the city, perhaps in the natural setting of the mountains.
But this everyday expression is lacking a deeper significance that is expressed in the classical Chinese phrase: the sense of distance, or going beyond. As with all Zhuangzi’s images, this is to be understood metaphorically. The second word, ‘yao,’ means ‘distance’ or ‘beyond,’ and here implies going beyond the boundaries of familiarity. We ordinarily confine ourselves with our social roles, expectations, and values, and with our everyday understandings of things. But this, according to Zhuangzi, is inadequate for a deeper appreciation of the natures of things, and for a more successful mode of interacting with them. We need at the very least to undo preconceptions that prevent us from seeing things and events in new ways; we need to see how we can structure and restructure the boundaries of things. But we can only do so when we ourselves have ‘wandered
beyond’ the boundaries of the familiar. It is only by freeing our imaginations to reconceive ourselves, and our worlds, and the things with which we interact, that we may begin to understand the deeper tendencies of the natural transformations by which we are all affected, and of which we are all constituted. By loosening the bonds of our fixed preconceptions, we bring ourselves closer to an attunement to the potent and productive natural way (dao) of things.
Paying close attention to the textual associations, we see that wandering is associated with the word wu, ordinarily translated ‘nothing,’ or ‘without.’ Related associations include: wusuo (no place), wuyou (no ‘something’), and most famously wuwei (no interference). Roger Ames and David Hall have commented extensively on these wu expressions. Most importantly, they are not to be understood as simple negations, but have a much more complex function. The significance of all of these expressions must be traced back to the wu of Laozi: a type of negation that does not simply negate, but places us in a new kind of relation to ‘things’—a phenomenological waiting that allows them to manifest, one that acknowledges the space that is the possibility of their coming to presence, one that appreciates the emptiness that is the condition of the possibility of their capacity to function, to be useful (as the hollow inside a house makes it useful for living). The behavior of one who wanders beyond becomes wuwei: sensitive and responsive without fixed preconceptions, without artifice, responding spontaneously in accordance with the unfolding of the inter-developing factors of the environment of which one is an inseparable part.
But it is not just the crossing of horizontal boundaries that is at stake. There is also the vertical distance that is important: one rises to a height from which formerly important distinctions lose what appeared to be their crucial significance. Thus arises the distinction between the great and the small, or the Vast (da) and the petty (xiao). Of this distinction Zhuangzi says that the petty can not come up to the Vast: petty understanding that remains confined and defined by its limitations cannot match Vast understanding, the expansive understanding that wanders beyond. Now, while it is true that the Vast loses sight of distinctions noticed by the petty, it does not follow that they are
We drop the tools that we have been taught to use to tame the environment. The petty. The useless has use.thereby equalized. A flourishing life may indeed look quite unappealing from a traditional point of view. Indeed. One may give up social ambition and retire in relative poverty to tend to one’s shen and cultivate one’s xing (nature. chides him for this very reason. For the Vast still embraces the petty in virtue of its very vastness. and we allow it to teach us without words. Now. and explore the world in all its unfamiliarity. in protecting the ancestral and preserving one’s life. Now. so that one can last out one’s natural years and live a flourishing life. is not able to reciprocate. but it is extremely impractical and often altogether useless. Zhuangzi’s friend and philosophical foil. A soaring imagination may be wild and wonderful. this notion of a flourishing life is not to be confused with a ’successful’ life: Zhuangzi is not impressed by worldly success. the Vast that goes beyond our everyday distinctions also thereby appears to be useless. . we leave behind everything we find familiar. precisely in virtue of its smallness. Huizi. It has a use in the cultivation and nurturing of the ’shen’ (spirit). We imitate its spontaneous behavior and we learn to respond immediately without fixed articulations. as Guo Xiang suggests. only not as seen on the ordinary level of practical affairs. But Zhuangzi expresses disappointment in him: for his inability to sense the use of this kind of uselessness is a kind of blindness of the spirit. or life potency). To summarize: When we wander beyond.
about the limits of language and thought. with allusions and allegories. This creates a problem for the interpreter. and baffling metaphors juxtaposed without explanation. our lives. In part.Interpretation of Chapter 2: "Theories on All Things Being Equal" If the Inner Chapters form the core of the Zhuangzi collection. sometimes even contradiction. at any rate. under the presupposition that no sense can be made of a contradiction. Graham. and are filled with paradox. the most complex and intricate of the chapters of the Zhuangzi. and our understanding itself. such as A. It is. our world. Those translators. who do this are following the interpretation of the Jin dynasty commentator Guo Xiang. The most perplexing sections concern language and judgment. It appears to be concerned with the deepest and most ‘abstract’ understanding of ourselves. highly condensed arguments. they appear to attempt to express an understanding about the limits of understanding itself. then the Qi Wu Lun may be thought of as forming the core of the Inner Chapters. The most common way to remove the contradictions is to insert references to points of view. But the contradictions are not easy to dismiss: their context indicates that they have a deep significance. our language. . C. who presents the philosophy as a form of relativism: apparently opposing judgments can harmonized when it is recognized that they are made from different perspectives. How do we deal with the contradictions? The most common solution is to paraphrase them so as to remove the direct contradictoriness. and especially for the translator.
Here. every thing has its place. every thing has its own value that follows from its own nature.According to Guo Xiang’s interpretation. In this way. to accept its own place in the hierarchical system. every position. According to Guo Xiang the vast and the small are equal in significance: this is his interpretation of the word qi in the title. He would have to acknowledge that his Daoist philosophy. it appears to be articulated precisely in response to those who oppose the traditional Ruist values of humanity and rightness (ren and yi) by claiming to have a superior mystical ground from which to judge them to be lacking. . This. and each person. no matter how shocking they may seem to us. and every function. the Vast perspective of the giant Peng bird is no better than the petty perspectives of the little birds who laugh at it. and that it is no less short-sighted than the logic-chopping of the Mohists. radical relativism actually forestalls the possibility of radical critique altogether! According to this reading. to acknowledge its value in the functioning of the whole. But there is a problem with taking this reading too seriously. however. its own nature (ziran). we see another of the possible consequences of such a position: paradoxically enough. So nothing should be judged by values appropriate to the natures of other things. is to encourage each thing. And indeed. its effect is usually one of destabilization of the social structure. Simply put. however. arguing that the established values have no more validity than any of the minority values. Thus. is no improvement over Confucianism after all. “equalization of all viewpoints”. its inherent conservativeness. indeed even this articulation of relativism. and it is the kind of problem that plagues all forms of radical relativism when one attempts to follow them through consistently. No intelligent radical relativist could fail to see this most obvious and direct consequence of their position. is a consequence that Zhuangzi does not recognize. This is surely an indication that the radical relativistic interpretation is clearly a misreading. Guo Xiang’s purpose in asserting this radical uniqueness and necessity of each position is conservative in this way. And the level of Zhuangzi’s intelligence clearly is above the ordinary. Guo Xiang’s aim in asserting the equality of every thing. Guo Xiang. Zhuangzi would have to acknowledge that his own position is no better than those he appears to critique. Indeed. such a radical relativism usually has the goal of issuing a fundamental challenge to the status quo. draws precisely this conclusion. Now.
because we can never know anything with absolute certainty. these latter feel that we ought never to make any final judgments that go beyond the immediate evidence. When we see that such things are beyond our ability to know with certainty. This is not quite the claim of the ancient Skeptics. for example) have focused their attention on aspects of the text that express affinities with the Hellenistic philosophy of Skepticism. the resonances with Zhuangzi’s philosophy are clear. Now. the textual contradictions are also resolved by appealing to different perspectives from which different judgments appear to be true. we should refrain from making judgments about whether it is good or bad for us. or that what we now think of as something terrible to be feared (death. Once one has learnt how to shift easily between the perspectives from which such different judgments can be made. Such a state of emotional tranquility they call ‘ataraxia. or the immediate appearances. When we accept this. for example) might not be an extraordinarily blissful awakening and a release from the toils and miseries of worldly life. we will learn to let go of our anxieties and accept the things that happen to us with equanimity. We should simply accept what appears at face value and have no further beliefs about its ultimate consequences. While he does not refrain from making judgments. the most common form of which is the claim that we cannot ever claim to know anything.Recently. We bracket (epoche) these ultimate judgments. Zhuangzi also accepts a form of fallibilism. or its ultimate value. Arguing from a position of fallibilism.’ Now. we learn to accept the changes of things in all their aspects with equanimity. then one can see how such apparently contradictory things can be true at the same time—and one no longer feels compelled to choose between them. In particular. for at least the reason that we might always be wrong about anything we claim to know—that is. he nevertheless acknowledges that we cannot be certain that what we think of as good for us may not ultimately be bad for us. In the Skeptical reading. it is important not to confuse this with what in modern philosophy is thought of as a doctrine of skepticism. some western interpreters (Lisa Raphals and Paul Kjellberg. we refrain from dividing things into the acceptable and the unacceptable. .
There is another way to resolve these contradictions.’ or ‘linguistically’ available to us. It is to this claim. learn to nurture those aspects of our heart-minds (xin). which are themselves neither sharp nor rigid. We will be able to sense and respond to what can only be vaguely expressed without forcing it into gross and unwieldy verbal expressions. In the tradition of Laozi’s cosmology. The Mohists believe that social harmony can only be achieved when we have clarity of distinctions. they must be one or the other and they cannot be both. they are not just what is ‘consciously. and the aim of the sage is to settle into this axis. so that one may observe the changes without being buffeted around by them. the theme of opposites is taken up by the Mohists. but with a very different understanding.’ ‘conceptually. ‘affirmed’ shi) or unacceptable (buke) (also ‘rejected’ fei). Put another way. I believe. There must always be a clear distinction between the two. then we will eventually find our place at the axis of the way (daoshu) and will be able to ride the transformations of the cosmos free from harm. beneficial/harmful. Rejecting also the Mohist style of discussion. that are in tune with the natural (tian) and ancestral (zong) within us. Now. The later Mohists present a detailed analysis of judgments as requiring bivalence: that is judgments may be acceptable (ke) (also. that Zhuangzi is directly responding. our natural tendencies (xing). Zhuangzi’s worldview is also one of seasonal transformations of opposites. aphoristic. good/bad. If we. which involves recognizing the importance of continuous transformation between opposites. our knowledge and understanding (zhi. especially of evaluative distinctions: true/false. he appeals to an allusive. in their later Mohist Canon. mythological style of poetic writing to upset the distinctions and blur the boundaries that the Mohists insist must be held apart. Zhuangzi’s position is that this kind of sharp and rigid thinking can result ultimately only in harming our natural tendencies (xing). on the contrary. The world is seen as a giant clod (da kuai) around which the heavens (tian) revolve about a polar axis (daoshu). tong. All transformations have such an axis. da) are not just what we can explicitly see before us and verbalize: in modern terms. Zhuangzi also insists on a level of understanding .
not evident or obviously present. modes that allow us to live. It seems that bivalent distinctions leave out too much on either side of the divide: they are too crude a tool to cope with the subtlety and complexity of our non-conceptual modes of knowing. It is then that we are able to cope directly with what from the limited perspective of our socialized and ‘linguistic’ understanding seems to be too vague. There are hidden modes of knowing. we at the same time nurture these non-cognitive modes of understanding. these modes of knowing also give us tremendous skill in coping with others and with our environments. calls this capacity shenming: “spirit insight. too paradoxical. understand. breathe. read our environments through subtle signs. connect with others without words.’ which Hall and Ames render as ‘unprincipled knowing. literally ‘without knowing.’ or ‘unknowing. through psycho-physical meditative practices. most ancestral part of our pysches. These modes of knowing Zhuangzi calls wuzhi.’ What is known by such modes of knowing.that goes beyond such relatively crude modes of dividing up our world and experiences. . becomes paradoxical and appears contradictory.” When we nurture that deepest and most natural. too open. embodied wisdoms. following a traditional folk psychology of his time. when we attempt to express it in words. move. that enable us to deal successfully with our circumstances. Zhuangzi.
but the skill of the sage goes beyond this. ’skill. one must retreat from social life. an example of skill in controlling the very life force itself. The mastery achieved is demonstrated (both metaphorically. A technique is a procedure that may be mastered. indicating one’s attunement with the transformations of nature. and processes. we see many examples of individuals who have achieved extraordinary levels of excellence in their achievements—practical. Huzi. and spiritual. and very lowly. or at least one must retreat from the highly complex and artificially structured social life of the city. and thus highly responsive to the tendencies (xing) of all things. nurtured and cultivated (yang). Zhuangzi sees civic involvement as particularly inimical to the preservation and cultivation of one’s natural life. any physical activity. a . or carving beautiful ceremonial bell stands. practical embodied skill is a metaphor representing the mastery of the life of the sage. like the Anarchist chapters. is replete with examples: a cicada catcher. The result is a sagely and skillful life. There is a ‘life’ within one that is a source of longevity. One might say that it has become an ‘art.’ a dao. This place is to be protected (bao). deals with the way to nurture and cultivate one’s ‘life force’ (sheng. Chapter 19. and is also quite literally a sign of sagehood (though not all those who are skillful are to be reckoned as sages). kept whole (quan). Mastering Life. We must be careful how we understand this word. an ancestral place from which the phenomena of one’s life continue to arise.Interpretations on Chapter 3: "Opinions on Nurturing Life" This chapter. With Zhuangzi’s conception. In order to cultivate one’s natural potencies.’ Zhuangzi takes pains to point out that it is no mere technique. aesthetic. xing) so as to enable one to live skillfully and last out one’s natural years (qiong qi tian nian). One undergoes a psycho-physical training in which one’s sensory and physical capacities become honed to an extraordinary degree. Thus. making wooden wheels. and literally) by practical embodied skill. That is. whether butchering a carcass. Butcher Ding provides an example of a practical. skill. in chapter 7. becomes a dao when it is performed in a spiritual state of heightened awareness (’attenuation’ xu). Liezi’s teacher. people.
a swimmer. and Woodcarver Qing. a carpenter. whose aesthetic skill reaches magical heights. .ferryman.
The more we try to control and curtail these natural meanderings. re-calibrated. The result is that phenomena guided by such artificial structures quickly lose their course. The Daoists are skeptical of the ability of deliberate planning to deal with the complexities of the world within which our social structures have their place. a wisdom that cannot be matched by deliberate artificial thinking. the more complicated and unwieldy the social structures become. . The Daoists perceive the unfolding of the transformations of nature as exhibiting a kind of natural intelligence. they will never be fully able to cope with the fluid flexibility of natural changes. and shi and fei for the Mohists. This gives rise to the development and articulation of the artificial concepts of ren and yi for the Ruists. and have to be constantly regulated. Even the developments of the social world when left to themselves are ‘natural’ developments. and Primitivists in general. are highly critical of the artificiality required to create and sustain complex social structures. structured thinking. especially in circumstances of great danger: a life of civic engagement in a time of social corruption. and as such escape the confines of planned.Interpretation of Chapter 4: "Relating To The Human World" In this chapter. but now takes on the problem of how to protect and preserve one’s life and last out one’s years while living in the social realm. According to the Daoists. Zhuangzi continues the theme broached by the last chapter. thinking that can be articulated in words. no matter how complex we make our structures. The Daoists.
Thus. that is. pleasure and pain. we set up one of two types of systems: the intuitive renyi morality of the Ruists. Zhuangzi makes up a story about Confucius’ most beloved and most virtuous follower. or the articulated structured shifei of the Mohists.The Ruists emphasize the importance of cultivating the values of ren ‘humanity’ and yi ‘appropriateness/rightness. their pleasure. Our judgments can be positive or negative. There are also times—if one has a Ruist sensibility—when one will be moved to do what one can and must in order to improve the social situation. The best thing is to steer clear of such situations. Yen Hui. and to do so at the expense of others.’ The Mohists identify a bivalent structure of preference and evaluation. and these in turn arise out of our emotional responses to the phenomena of benefit and harm. Zhuangzi sees both of these as dangerous. and their power. But there are times when one cannot do so: there is nothing one can do to avoid involvement in a social undertaking. They lead to the desire of rulers to increase their personal profit. Neither can keep up with the complex transformations of things and so both will result in harm to our shen and xing. who feels called to help ‘rectify’ the King of a state known for his selfishness and brutality. . and these arise out of our acceptance and rejection of things or of judgments.
redirect it through skilled and subtle manipulations. This is a psycho-physical discipline of attenuation. and of how they transform and develop. One then responds with the skill of a sage to the dangerous moods and intentions of one’s worldly ruler. be aware of the natures of things. is ultimately misguided. In the presence of danger. do not confront it: always dance to one side. in which one nurtures one’s inner potencies. that do not take control. but by adding their own weight appropriately. There is little to nothing one can do to change things in a corrupt world.Zhuangzi thinks that such a motivation. One must treat all dangerous social undertakings as a Daoist adept: one must perform xinzhai. then you should be aware of the dangers. fasting of the heart-mind. Be on the lookout for the ‘triggers’: the critical junctures at which a situation can explode out of hand. while admirable. until one achieves a heightened sensitivity to the tendencies of things. redirect the momentum of the situation. . But if you really have to try.
Thus to go to that which is beyond is not necessarily to become inhuman. one might argue that it is to create the possibility of deepening one’s most genuine humanity. To hold fast to that which is beyond both living and dying.’ As the Commander of the Right says in chapter 3. redirected. insofar as this is a deeper nature still. is perhaps also to hold fast to something that is beyond human and inhuman. .” These then are people whose natural capacity (de) has been twisted somehow. people born with ‘ugly’ deformities. it saw to it that I would be one footed. this out of the ordinary appearance. is a sign of something deeper: a potency and a power (de) that connects them more closely to the ancestral source. To identify with and nurture this source is to nurture that which is at the root of our humanity. hunchbacks with no lips. But what goes beyond is also the source of life. who were unsuccessful in bringing virtue and harmony to a corrupt state. “When tian (nature) gave me life. this extraordinary physical form. and whose signs of virtue indicate that they have gone beyond. Indeed.Interpretation of Chapter 5: "Calculations on Filfilling Virtue" This chapter is populated with a collection of characters with bodily eccentricities: criminals with amputated feet. At any rate. These are the sages that Zhuangzi admires: those whose virtue (de) is beyond the ordinary. Perhaps some of these are moralistic advisors. like those of chapter 4. so that it gives them a potency (de) that is beyond the normal human range. and instead received the harsh punishment of their offended ruler? But it is also possible that some were born with these physical ‘deformities.
not Man. Or caused by Man?” He then said to himself: “It is Heaven.One Legged Man Kung Wen Hsien saw Yo Shi and exclaimed: “What kind of person is this? How come only one foot? Is this ordained by Heaven. The image of Man is given by Heaven. . Heaven’s destiny let him be crippled.
Therefore we know this is the work of Heaven.” -The True Tao . not Man.
The zhenren like Laozi’s sage is somehow simultaneously unified with things. This is sometimes expressed with what I take to be the hyperbole that the sage or zhenren can never be drowned by the ocean. In fact. nor are their most extreme phases able to upset the balance of the zhenren.Interpretation of Chapter 6: "Teachings From Those Who Were Great But Are No Longer Alive" The first part of this chapter is devoted to a discussion of the zhenren: the “True Man. and with the cycles of yin yang. . followers of what has come to be known as “religious” Daoism would. the natural/heaven and the human. the zhen ren. and yet not tied down by them. is in tune with the cycles of nature. A genuinely flourishing human life cannot be separated from the natural. and is not upset by the vicissitudes of life. probably take these statements more literally. I believe. to be forced to choose between being natural or being human is a mistake. and suggests that the greatest wisdom lies in the ability to understand both. Thus. The zhenren is in tune with the cycles of nature. There are several sections devoted to explicating this genuine humanity. However.” It begins by asking about the relation between tian and ren. and is not disturbed or harmed by them. We find that the genuinely human person. Genuine humanity is natural humanity.” the “genuine person. but nor can it on that account deny its own humanity. the zhenren is not harmed by them either in what appears to us to be their negative phases. nor burned by fire.” or “genuine humanity.
and yet. it was the predicament itself that Zhuangzi described. the ‘axis of the way. by holding fast to our ancestral nature. to be sure. Ordinarily. Again. By maintaining ourselves as a shifting and responding center of gravity we are able to maintain an equanimity without giving up our feelings altogether. In chapter two. Zhuangzi tries to delve deeper to reach the center of balance. not that we must experience whatever is ‘fated’ for us. but a tranquil appreciation of the richness. but only that we should acknowledge and accept our situatedness. as the ‘raw materials’ that we have to deal with. We enjoy riding the dragon without being thrown around by it.’ that allows one to undergo these changes with tranquility. our thrownness into our situation. Zhuangzi hints at the process by which we are to cultivate our genuine and natural humanity. and he tried to focus on the inseparability and indistinguishability of the two aspects of this single process of transformation. we are buffeted around like flotsam in a storm. We learn how to identify with that center which functions as an axis of stability around which the cycles of emotional turbulence flow. and even to accept them with a kind of ‘joy. These are meditative practices and psycho-physical disciplines—”yogas” perhaps—by which we learn how to nourish the ancestral root of life that is within us. In this chapter. sadness and joy. beauty.’ Not an ecstatic affirmation. or that we ought not to minimize harm and suffering where we can do so. and by following the nature of the environment—by “matching nature with nature”—we free ourselves from the mercy of random circumstances.In the second part of the chapter. living and dying. . In this chapter we see a mature development of the ideas of life and death broached in the first three chapters. Zhuangzi continues musing on the significance of our existential predicament as being inextricably tied into interweaving cycles of darkness and light. and ‘inevitability’ of whatever experiences we eventually will undergo.
‘forgotten’ differences between self and other. to wander beyond. It is not unreasonable to believe that similar techniques have been handed down by the practitioners of religious Daoism. These meditative and yogic practices are hinted at in this chapter. our boundaries until they include the entire cosmic process. develops through its natural (tian) tendencies (xing). and simultaneously as a whetstone and as a grindstone. nonetheless. and then still following its natural tendencies. it winds down: enters (ru) back into the undifferentiated (wu) from which it emerged (chu). or this particular body. the greater flow. but nothing in the text reveals what they are. The truest friendship arises when members of a community identify with this unknown undifferentiated process in which they are embedded. and also in chapter 7.’ . and spontaneously follows the natural developments of which they are inseparable ‘parts. self-identification. This entire process is seen as like a potter’s wheel. We somehow learn to expand. It is clear. not with the particular arisings of these particular emotions. sharpened. and arise. but with what lies within (and below and above) as their ancestral root. and are ground back down only to be made into new forms. flourishes. responding to those of its natural environment.There are mystical practices hinted at that enable the sage to identify with the datong. on which things are formed. With each ‘birth’ (sheng) some ‘thing’ (wu) new arises. that part of the change is a change in selfunderstanding.
This ‘withdrawal’ has two functions: the first is to preserve one’s ‘life’. allowing them to manifest and flourish. which. and 6: that of withdrawing from society. . but closes by returning to a recurring theme from chapters 1. Or. the second is to allow society to function naturally. These themes resonate with those of the Anarchist chapters in the Outer (and Miscellaneous) chapters: 8 to 11a and 28 to 32. 5. then one learns how to minimize them. These encourage a life closer to nature in which one lets go of deliberate control and instead learns how to sense the tendencies of things. 3. one should allow them to follow their natural course.Interpretation of Chapter 7: Responding to (Complying with) Emperors and Kings The last of the Inner Chapters does not introduce anything new. Rather than interfering with social interactions. if harm and danger are unavoidable. Zhuangzi believes. will be both imaginative and harmonious. and how to accept whatever one does have to suffer with equanimity. while also adding one’s weight to redirect their momentum away from harm and danger. and thus to bring itself to a harmonious completion.