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Pri mar y Sour ce Doc ument

wi t h Quest i ons ( DBQs)




S E L E C T I O N F R O M T H E Z H U A N G Z I :
C H A P T E R 3 , T H E S E C R E T O F C A R I N G F O R L I F E



I nt roduct i on

Zhuangzi (also called Zhuang Zhou) was an historically verifiable man who lived somewhere around 360-280 BCE.
The long book that bears his name is a combination of material that represents his own thinking and of other
writings incorporated by various compilers and editors. Like Confucius, Mencius, Han Fei and others, Zhuangzi lived
during the time when the kings of the Zhou dynasty had little real power and the kingdom had disintegrated into
feudal states that were constantly at war with each other in shifting patterns of alliances and enmities. During the
Warring States period (480-221 BCE), Zhuangzi and Laozi were not considered to be part of a single school of
thought. Zhuangzi is more concerned with escaping from the world; Laozi, with cunning ways of ruling it. During the
Han dynasty, both works concern with the Dao (the Way of Heaven) and their mystical understanding of that term
inspired historians to lump them together under the single category of Daoism. The name stuck. Zhuangzi and
Laozi are now forever linked as the two great progenitors of Daoist philosophy and religion.



Sel ect ed Document Exc erpt wi t h Questi ons
From Sources of Chinese Tradition, compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1999), 103-104. 1999 Columbia University Press. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher. All rights
reserved.


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Your Iife has a Iimil bul knovIedge has none. If you use vhal is Iimiled lo ursue vhal has no
Iimil, you viII be in danger. If you undersland lhis and sliII slrive for knovIedge, you viII be in
danger for cerlain! If you do good, slay avay from fame. If you do eviI, slay avay from
unishmenls. IoIIov lhe middIe, go by vhal is conslanl, and you can slay in one iece, kee
yourseIf aIive, Iook afler your arenls, and Iive oul your years.

Cook Ding vas culling u an ox for Lord Wenhui. Al every louch of his hand, every heave of
his shouIder, every move of his feel, every lhrusl of his knee -- zi, zoo! He sIilhered lhe knife
aIong vilh a zing, and aII vas in erfecl rhylhm, as lhough he vere erforming lhe dance of lhe
MuIberry Grove or keeing lime lo lhe }ingshou music.
1


Ah, lhis is marveIous! said Lord Wenhui. Imagine skiII reaching such heighls!

1
The MuIberry Grove is idenlified as a rain dance from lhe lime of King Tang of lhe Shang dynasly, and
lhe }ingshou music as arl of a Ionger comosilion from lhe lime of Yao.
Pri mar y Sour ce Doc ument , wi t h Quest i ons ( DBQ) on
SELECTI ON FROM THE ZHUANGZI : CHAPTER 3, THE SECRET OF CARI NG FOR LI FE


Asi a for Educat ors | Col umbi a Uni versi t y | ht t p: / /af e. easi a. col umbi a. edu Page 2 of 2
Cook Ding Iaid dovn his knife and reIied, Whal I care aboul is lhe Way, vhich goes beyond
skiII. When I firsl began culling u oxen, aII I couId see vas lhe ox ilseIf. Afler lhree years I no
Ionger sav lhe vhoIe ox. And nov -- nov I go al il by siril and don'l Iook vilh my eyes.
Iercelion and underslanding have come lo a slo and siril moves vhere il vanls. I go aIong
vilh lhe naluraI makeu, slrike in lhe big hoIIovs, guide lhe knife lhrough lhe big oenings,
and foIIov lhings as lhey are. So I never louch lhe smaIIesl Iigamenl or lendon, much Iess a
main |oinl.

A good cook changes his knife once a year -- because he culs. A mediocre cook changes his
knife one a monlh -- because he hacks. I've had lhis knife of mine for nineleen years and have
cul u lhousands of oxen vilh il, and yel lhe bIade is as good as lhough il had |usl come from
lhe grindslone. There are saces belveen lhe |oinls, and lhe bIade of lhe knife has reaIIy no
lhickness. If you inserl vhal has no lhickness inlo such saces, lhen lhere's Ienly of room --
more lhan enough for lhe bIade lo Iay aboul il. Thal's vhy afler nineleen years lhe bIade of my
knife is sliII as good as vhen il firsl came from lhe grindslone.

Hovever, vhenever I come lo a comIicaled Iace, I size u lhe difficuIlies, leII myseIf lo
valch oul and be carefuI, kee my eyes on vhal I'm doing, vork very sIovIy, and move lhe
knife vilh lhe grealesl sublIely, unliI fIo! The vhoIe lhing comes aarl Iike a cIod of earlh
crumbIing lo lhe ground. I sland lhere hoIding lhe knife and Iook aII around me, comIeleIy
salisfied and reIuclanl lo move on, and lhen I vie off lhe knife and ul il avay.

IxceIIenl! said Lord Wenhui. I have heard lhe vords of Cook Ding and Iearned hov lo care
for Iife! .

Quest i ons:

1. How does Zhuangzi suggest that one live ones life? How might his
recommendation have been influenced by the chaotic and warlike times in
which he lived?
2. How is the concept of the Way (Dao) relevant to understanding the story
of Cook Ding?
3. How does Zhuangzis approach to life contrast to that of Confucius and
Mencius? To that of Han Fei and Lord Shang?