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  1. The Old Fisherman
  2. Lieh Yü-khâu
  3. Thien Hsiâ

31 - The Old Fisherman

Confucius, rambling in the forest of Tzu-wei, stopped and sat down by the Apricot altar. The disciples began to read their books, while he proceeded to play on his lute, singing as he did so. He had not half finished his ditty when an old fisherman stepped down from his boat, and came towards them. His beard and eyebrows were turning white; his hair was all uncombed; and his sleeves hung idly down. He walked thus up from the bank, till he got to the dry ground, when he stopped, and, with his left hand holding one of his knees, and the right hand at his chin, listened. When the ditty was finished, he beckoned to Tzu-kung and Tzu-lu, who both responded and went to him. Pointing to Confucius, he said,

'Who is he?'

Tzu-lu replied,

'He is the Superior Man of Lu.'

'And of what family is he?'

'He is of the Khung family.'

'And what is the occupation of this Mr. Khung?'

To this question, Tzu-la gave no reply, but Tzu-kung replied,

'This scion of the Khung family devotes himself in his own nature to leal-heartedness and sincerity; in his conduct he manifests benevolence and righteousness; he cultivates the ornaments of ceremonies and music; he pays special attention to the relationships of society; above, he would promote loyalty to the hereditary lords; below, he seeks the transformation of all classes of the people; his object being to benefit the kingdom: this is what Mr. Khung devotes himself to.'

The stranger further asked,

'Is he a ruler possessed of territory?'

'No,' was Sze-kung's reply.

'Is he the assistant of any prince or king?'

'No; ' and on this the other began to laugh and to retrace his steps, saying as he went,

'Yes, benevolence is benevolence! But I am afraid he won't escape (the evils incident to humanity). By embittering his mind and toiling his body, he is imperilling his true (nature)! Alas! how far removed is he from the proper way (of life)!'

Tzu-kung returned, and reported (what the man had said) to Confucius, who pushed his lute aside, and arose, saying,

'Is he not a sage?' - and down the slope he went in search of him. When he reached the edge of the lake, there was the fisherman with his pole, dragging the boat towards him. Turning round and seeing Confucius, he came back towards him and stood up. Confucius then drew back, bowed to him twice, and went forward.

'What do you want with me, Sir?' asked the stranger. The reply was,

'A little while ago, my Master, you broke off the thread of your remarks and went away. Inferior to you, I don't know what you wished to say, and have ventured here to wait for your instructions, fortunate if I may but hear the sound of your words to complete the assistance that you can give me!'

'Ah!' responded the stranger, 'how great is your love of learning!'

Confucius bowed twice, and then rose up, and said,

'Since I was young, I have cultivated learning till I am now sixty-nine years old; but I have not had an opportunity of hearing the perfect teaching; – dare I but listen to you with a humble and unprejudiced mind?'

The stranger replied,

'Like seeks to like, and (birds) of the same note respond to one another; – this is a rule of Heaven. Allow me to explain what I am in possession of, and to pass over (from its standpoint) to the things which occupy you. What you occupy yourself with are the affairs of men. When the sovereign, the feudal lords, the great officers, and the common people, these four classes, do what is correct (in their several positions), we have the beauty of good order; and when they leave their proper duties, there ensues the greatest disorder. When the officials attend to their duties, and the common people are anxiously concerned about their business, there is no encroachment on one another's rights.

'Fields running to waste; leaking rooms; insufficiency of food and clothing; taxes unprovided for; want of harmony among wives and concubines; and want of order between old and young; – these are the troubles of the common people.

'Incompetency for their charges; inattention to their official business; want of probity in conduct; carelessness and idleness in subordinates; failure of merit and excellence; and uncertainty of rank and emolument: these are the troubles of great officers.

'No loyal ministers at their courts; the clans in their states rebellious; want of skill in their mechanics; articles of tribute of bad quality; late appearances at court in spring and autumn; and the dissatisfaction of the sovereign: these are the troubles of the feudal lords.

'Want of harmony between the Yin and Yang; unseasonableness of cold and heat, affecting all things injuriously; oppression and disorder among the feudal princes, their presuming to plunder and attack one another, to the injury of the people ceremonies and music ill-regulated; the resources for expenditure exhausted or deficient; the social relationships uncared for; and the people abandoned to licentious disorder: these are the troubles of the Son of Heaven and his ministers.

'Now, Sir, you have not the high rank of a ruler, a feudal lord, or a minister of the royal court, nor are you in the inferior position of a great minister, with his departments of business, and yet you take it on you to regulate ceremonies and music, and to give special attention to the relationships of society, with a view to transform the various classes of the people: is it not an excessive multiplication of your business?

'And moreover men are liable to eight defects, and (the conduct of) affairs to four evils; of which we must by all means take account.

'To take the management of affairs which do not concern him is called monopolising. To bring forward a subject which no one regards is called loquacity. To lead men on by speeches made to please them is called sycophancy. To praise men without regard to right or wrong is called flattery. To be fond of speaking of men's wickedness is called calumny. To part friends and separate relatives is called mischievousness. To praise a man deceitfully, or in the same way fix on him the character of being bad, is called depravity. Without reference to their being good or bad, to agree with men with double face, in order to steal a knowledge of what they wish, is called being dangerous. Those eight defects produce disorder among other men and injury to one's self. A superior man won't make a friend of one who has them, nor will an intelligent ruler make him his minister.

'To speak of what I called the four evils: To be fond of conducting great affairs, changing and altering what is of long-standing, to obtain for one's self the reputation of meritorious service, is called ambition; to claim all wisdom and intrude into affairs, encroaching on the work of others, and representing it as one's own, is called greediness; to see his errors without changing them, and to go on more resolutely in his own way when remonstrated with, is called obstinacy; when another agrees with himself, to approve of him, and, however good he may be, when he disagrees, to disapprove of him, is called boastful conceit. These are the four evils. When one can put away the eight defects, and allow no course to the four evils, he begins to be capable of being taught.'

Confucius looked sorrowful and sighed. (Again) he bowed twice, and then rose up and said,

'I was twice driven from Lu. I had to flee from Wei; the tree under which I rested was cut down in Sung; I was kept in a state of siege between Khän and Zhâi. I don't know what errors I had committed that I came to be misrepresented on these four occasions (and suffered as I did).'

The stranger looked grieved (at these words), changed countenance, and said,

'Very difficult it is, Sir, to make you understand. There was a man who was frightened at his shadow and disliked to see his footsteps, so that he ran to escape from them. But the more frequently he lifted his feet, the more numerous his footprints were; and however fast he ran, his shadow did not leave him. He thought he was going too slow, and ran on with all his speed without stopping, till his strength was exhausted and he died. He did not know that, if he had stayed in a shady place, his shadow would have disappeared, and that if he had remained still, he would have lost his footprints: his stupidity was excessive! And you, Sir, exercise your judgement on the questions about benevolence and righteousness; you investigate the points where agreement and difference touch; you look at the changes from movement to rest and from rest to movement; you have mastered the rules of receiving and giving; you have defined the feelings of liking and disliking; you have harmonised the limits of joy and anger: and yet you have hardly been able to escape (the troubles of which you speak). If you earnestly cultivated your own person, and carefully guarded your (proper) truth, simply rendering to others what was due to them, then you would have escaped such entanglements. But now, when you do not cultivate your own person, and make the cultivation of others your object, are you not occupying yourself with what is external?'

Confucius with an air of sadness said,

'Allow me to ask what it is that you call my proper Truth.'

The stranger replied,

'A man's proper Truth is pure sincerity in its highest degree; – without this pure sincerity one cannot move others. Hence if one (only) forces himself to wail, however sadly he may do so, it is not (real) sorrow; if he forces himself to be angry, however he may seem to be severe, he excites no awe; if he forces himself to show affection, however he may smile, he awakens no harmonious reciprocation. True grief, without a sound, is yet sorrowful; true anger, without any demonstration, yet awakens awe; true affection, without a smile, yet produces a harmonious reciprocation. Given this truth within, it exercises a spiritual efficacy without, and this is why we count it so valuable. In our relations with others, it appears according to the requirements of each case: in the service of parents, as gentle, filial duty; in the service of rulers, as loyalty and integrity; in festive drinking, as pleasant enjoyment; in the performance of the mourning rites, as sadness and sorrow. In loyalty and integrity, good service is the principal thing; in festive drinking, the enjoyment; in the mourning rites, the sorrow; in the service of parents, the giving them pleasure. The beauty of the service rendered (to a ruler) does not require that it always be performed in one way; the service of parents so as to give them pleasure takes no account of how it is done; the festive drinking which ministers enjoyment does not depend on the appliances for it; the observance of the mourning rites with the proper sorrow asks no questions about the rites themselves. Rites are prescribed for the practice of the common people; man's proper Truth is what he has received from Heaven, operating spontaneously, and unchangeable. Therefore the sages take their law from Heaven, and prize their (proper) Truth, without submitting to the restrictions of custom. The stupid do the reverse of this. They are unable to take their law from Heaven, and are influenced by other men; they don't know how to prize the proper Truth (of their nature), but are under the dominion of ordinary things, and change according to the customs (around them):always, consequently, incomplete. Alas for you, Sir, that you were early steeped in the hypocrisies of men, and have been so late in hearing about the Great Way!'

(Once more), Confucius bowed twice (to the fisherman), then rose again, and said,

'That I have met you today is as if I had the happiness of getting to heaven. If you, Master, are not ashamed, but will let me be as your servant, and continue to teach me, let me venture to ask where your dwelling is. I will then beg to receive your instructions there, and finish my learning of the Great Way.'

The stranger replied,

'I have heard the saying, "If it be one with whom you can walk together, go with him to the subtlest mysteries of the Tao. If it be one with whom you cannot walk together and he don't know the Tao, take care that you do not associate with him, and you will yourself incur no responsibility." Do your utmost, Sir. I must leave you, I must leave you!'

With this he shoved off his boat, and went away among the green reeds.

Yen Yüan (now) returned to the carriage, where Tzu-la handed to him the strap; but Confucius did not look round, (continuing where he was), till the wavelets, were stilled, and he did not hear the sound of the pole, when at last he ventured to (return and) take his seat. Tzu-lu, by his side in the carriage, asked him, saying,

'I have been your servant for a long time, but I have never seen you, Master, treat another with the awe and reverence which you have now shown. I have seen you in the presence of a Lord of ten thousand chariots or a Ruler of a thousand, and they have never received you in a different audience-room, or treated you but with the courtesies due to an equal, while you have still carried yourself with a reserved and haughty air; but today this old fisherman has stood erect in front of you with his pole in his hand, while you, bent from your loins in the form of a sounding-stone, would bow twice before you answered him; – was not your reverence of him excessive? Your disciples will all think it strange in you, Master. Why did the old fisherman receive such homage from you?'

Confucius leant forward on the cross-bar of the carriage, heaved a sigh, and said,

'Difficult indeed is it to change you, Yu! You have been trained in propriety and righteousness for long, and yet your servile and mean heart has not been taken from you. Come nearer, that I may speak fully to you. If you meet one older than yourself, and do not show him respect, you fail in propriety. If you see a man of superior wisdom and goodness, and do not honour him, you want the great characteristic of humanity. If that (fisherman) did not possess it in the highest degree, how could he make others submit to him? And if their submission to him be not sincere, they do not attain to the truth (of their nature), and inflict a lasting injury on their persons. Alas! there is no greater calamity to man than the want of this characteristic; and you, Yu, you alone, would take such want on yourself.

'Moreover, the Tao is the course by Which all things should proceed. For things to fail in this is death; to observe it, is life. To oppose it in practice is ruin; to conform it, is success. Therefore wherever the sagely man finds the Tao, he honours it. And that old fisherman today might be said to possess it; – dared I presume not to show him reverence?'


32 - Lieh Yü-khâu

1: Lieh Tzu is frightened

Lieh Yü-khâu had started to go to Khi, but came back when he was half-way to it. He met Po-hwän Wu-zän, who said,

'Why have you come back?'

His reply was,

'I was frightened.'

'What frightened you?'

'I went into ten soup-shops to get a meal, and in five of them the soup was set before me before (I had paid for it).'

'But what was there in that to frighten you?'

(Master Lieh) said,

'Though the inward and true purpose be not set forth, the body like a spy gives some bright display of it. And this outward demonstration overawes men's minds, and makes men on light grounds treat one as noble or as aged, from which evil to him will be produced. Now vendors of soup supply their commodity simply as a matter of business, and however much they may dispose of, their profit is but little, and their power is but slight; and yet they treated me as I have said: how much more would the lord of ten thousand chariots do so! His body burdened with (the cares of his) kingdom, and his knowledge overtasked by its affairs, he would entrust those affairs to me, and exact from me the successful conduct (of its government). It was this which frightened me.'

Po-hwän Wu-zän replied,

'Admirable perspicacity! But if you carry yourself as you do, men will flock to you for protection.'

Not long after, Po-hwän Wu-zän went (to visit Master Lieh), and found the space outside his door full of shoes. There he stood with his face to the north, holding his staff upright, and leaning his chin on it till the skin was wrinkled. After standing so for some time, and without saying a word, he was going away, when the door-keeper went in, and told Master Lieh. The latter (at once) took up his shoes, and ran barefoot after the visitor. When he overtook him at the (outer) gate, he said,

'Since you, Sir, have come, are you going away without giving me some medicine?'

The other replied,

'It is of no use. I did tell you that men would flock to you, and they do indeed do so. It is not that you can cause men to flock to you, but you cannot keep them from not so coming; – of what use is (all my warning)? What influences them and makes them glad is the display of your extraordinary (qualities); but you must also be influenced in your turn, and your proper nature be shaken, and no warning can be addressed to you. Those who associate with you do not admonish you of this. The small words which they speak are poison to a man. You perceive it not; you understand it not; – how can you separate yourself from them?

'The clever toil on, and the wise are sad. Those who are without ability seek for nothing. They eat to the full, and wander idly about. They drift like a vessel loosed from its moorings, and aimlessly wander about.'

2: Hwan of Käng

A man of Käng, called Hwan, learned his books in the neighbourhood of Khiu-shih, and in no longer time than three years became a Confucian scholar, benefiting the three classes of his kindred as the Ho extends its enriching influence for nine li [4,5 km]. He made his younger brother study (the principles of) Mo, and then they two – the scholar and the Mohist – disputed together (about their respective systems), and the father took the side of the younger. After ten years Hwan killed himself. (By and by) he appeared to his father in a dream, saying,

'It was I who made your son become a Mohist; why did you not recognise that good service? I am become (but) the fruit of a cypress in autumn.'

But the Creator, in apportioning the awards of men, does not recompense them for their own doings, but recompenses them for the (use of the) Heavenly in them. It was thus that Hwan's brother was led to learn Mohism. When this Hwan thought that it was he who had made his brother different from what he would have been, and proceeded to despise his father, he was like the people of Khi, who, while they drank from a well, tried to keep one another from it. Hence it is said,

'Now-a-days all men are Hwans.'

From this we perceive that those who possess the characteristics (of the Tao) consider that they don't know them; how much more is it so with those who possess the Tao itself! The ancients called such (as Hwan) 'men who had escaped the punishment of Heaven.'

3: The rest of the sagely man

The sagely man rests in what is his proper rest; he does not rest in what is not so; – the multitude of men rest in what is not their proper rest; they do not rest in their proper rest.

4: Not to show-reduce a valuable Tao is called Heavenly

Master Chuang said, To know the Tao is easy; not to say (that you know it) is difficult. To know it and not to speak of it is the way to attain to the Heavenly; to know and to speak of it, is the way to show the Human. The ancients pursued the Heavenly (belonging to them), and not the Human.'

5: Learning how to kill a dragon, but -

Ku Peng-man learned how to slaughter the dragon from Kih-li Yi, expending (in doing so) all his wealth of a thousand ounces of silver. In three years he became perfect in the art, but he never exercised his skill.

'Slaughtering the dragon' means 'learning the Tao' (etc.). - J. Legge.

6: Beware of much unnecessary

The sage looks on what is deemed necessary as unnecessary, and therefore is not at war (in himself). The mass of men deem what is unnecessary to be necessary, and therefore they are often at war (in themselves). Therefore those who pursue this method of (internal) war, resort to it in whatever they seek for. But reliance on such war leads to ruin.

"The mass of men deem what is unnecessary to be necessary." - The overgrown consumer society of today is packed with unecessary things.

7: Speaking against overdoing trivial things

The wisdom of the small man does not go beyond (the minutiae of) making presents and writing memoranda, wearying his spirits out in what is trivial and mean. But at the same time he wishes to aid in guiding to (the secret of) the Tao and of (all) things in the incorporeity of the Grand Unity. In this way he goes all astray in regard to (the mysteries of) space and time. The fetters of embodied matter keep him from the knowledge of the Grand Beginning. (On the other hand), the perfect man directs the energy of his spirit to what was before the Beginning, and finds pleasure in the mysteriousness belonging to the region of nothingness. He is like the water which flows on without the obstruction of matter, and expands into the Grand Purity.

Alas for what you do, (men)! You occupy yourselves with things trivial as a hair, and remain ignorant of the Grand Rest!

8: Too many ascribe their value to what rulers and businesses allot them

There was a man of Sung, called Zhâo Shang, who was sent by the king of Sung on a mission to Khin. On setting out, he had several carriages with him; and the king (of Khin) was so pleased with him that he gave him another hundred. When he returned to Sung, he saw Master Chuang, and said to him,

'To live in a narrow lane of a poor mean hamlet, wearing sandals amid distress of poverty, with a weazen neck and yellow face; – that is what I should find it difficult to do. But as soon as I come to an understanding with the Lord of a myriad carriages, to find myself with a retinue of a hundred carriages, – that is wherein I excel.'

Master Chuang replied,

'When the king of Khän is ill, the doctor whom he calls to open an ulcer or squeeze a boil receives a carriage; and he who licks his piles receives five. The lower the service, the more are the carriages given. Did you, Sir, lick his piles? How else should you have got so many carriages? Begone!'

9: Duke Âi asks whether he should employ Confucius

Duke Âi of Lu asked Yen Ho, saying,

'If I employ Kung-ni as the support of my government, will the evils of the state be thereby cured?'

The reply was,

'(Such a measure) would be perilous! It would be full of hazard! Kung-ni, moreover, will try to ornament a feather and paint it; in the conduct of affairs he uses flowery speeches. A (mere) branch is to him more admirable (than the root); he can bear to misrepresent their nature in instructing the people, and is not conscious of the unreality of his words. He receives (his inspiration) from his own mind, and rules his course from his own spirit: what fitness has he to be set over the people? Is such a man suitable for you (as your minister)? Could you give to him the nourishment (of the people)? You would do so by mistake (but not on purpose, for a time, but not as a permanency). To make the people leave what is real, and learn what is hypocritical – that is not the proper thing to be shown to them; if you take thought for future ages, your better plan will be to give up (the idea of employing Confucius). What makes government difficult, is the dealing with men without forgetting yourself; this is not according to the example of Heaven in diffusing its benefits. Merchants and traffickers are not to be ranked (with administrative officers); if on an occasion you so rank them, the spirits (of the people) do not acquiesce in your doing so. The instruments of external punishment are made of metal and wood; those of internal punishment are agitation (of the mind) and (the sense of) transgression. When small men become subject to the external punishment, the (instruments of) metal and wood deal with them; when they become liable to the internal punishments, the Yin and Yang consume them. It is only the true man who can escape both from the external and internal punishment.'

To be punished by conformism may mar a human -

10: Different groups of people

Confucius said,

'The minds of men are more difficult of approach than (the position defended by) mountains and rivers, and more difficult to know than Heaven itself. Heaven has its periods of spring and autumn, of winter and summer, and of morning and evening; but man's exterior is thickly veiled, and his feelings lie deep. Thus the demeanour of some is honest-like, and yet they go to excess (in what is mean); others are really gifted, and yet look to be without ability; some seem docile and impressible, but yet they have far-reaching schemes; others look firm, and yet may be twisted about; others look slow, and yet they are hasty. In this way those who hasten to do what is right as if they were thirsty will anon hurry away from it as if it were fire. Hence the superior man looks at them when employed at a distance to test their fidelity, and when employed near at hand to test their reverence. By employing them on difficult services, he tests their ability; by questioning them suddenly, he tests their knowledge; by appointing them a fixed time, he tests their good faith; by entrusting them with wealth, he tests their benevolence; by telling them of danger, he tests their self-command in emergencies; by making them drunk, he tests their tendencies; by placing them in a variety of society, he tests their chastity: by these nine tests the inferior man is discovered.'

We could weigh persons by many of the ancient standards and benefit too.

11: Understanding of advances

When Khâo-fu, the Correct, received the first grade of official rank, he walked with head bowed down; on receiving the second, with bent back; on receiving the third, with body stooping, he ran and hurried along the wall: who would presume not to take him as a model? But one of those ordinary men, on receiving his first appointment, goes along with a haughty stride; on receiving his second, he looks quite elated in his chariot; and on receiving the third, he calls his uncles by their personal names; – how very different from Hsü (Yu) in the time (of Yao of) Tang!

Of all things that injure (men) there is none greater than the practising of virtue with the purpose of the mind, till the mind becomes supercilious. When it becomes so, the mind (only) looks inwards (on itself), and such looking into itself leads to its ruin. This evil quality has five forms, and the chief of them is that which is the central. What do we mean by the central quality? It is that which appears in a man's loving (only) his own views, and reviling whatever he does not do (himself).

Limiting (men's advance), there are eight extreme conditions; securing (that advance), there are three things necessary; and the person has its six repositories. Elegance; a (fine) beard; tallness; size; strength; beauty; bravery; daring; and in all these excelling others: (these are the eight extreme conditions) by which advance is limited. Depending on and copying others; stooping in order to rise; and being straitened by the fear of not equalling others: these are the three things that lead to advancing. Knowledge seeking to reach to all that is external; bold movement producing many resentments; benevolence and righteousness leading to many requisitions; understanding the phenomena of life in an extraordinary degree; understanding all knowledge so as to possess an approach to it; understanding the great condition appointed for him, and following it, and the smaller conditions, and meeting them as they occur: (these are the six repositories of the person).

Ancient China was rank-driven.

Among what may limit someone's true advance in life: Beauty that is hunted down to one's loss; inviting the envy of others; copying others; depending on others when it is not called for.

12: The stone-broken pearl

There was a man who, having had an interview with the king of Sung, and been presented by him with ten carriages, showed them boastfully to Master Chuang, as if the latter had been a boy. Master Chuang said to him,

'Near the Ho there was a poor man who supported his family by weaving rushes (to form screens). His son, when diving in a deep pool, found a pearl worth a thousand ounces of silver. The father said, "Bring a stone, and break it in pieces. A pearl of this value must have been in a pool nine khung deep, and under the chin of the Black Dragon. That you were able to get it must have been owing to your finding him asleep. Let him awake, and the consequences to you won't be small!" Now the kingdom of Sung is deeper than any pool of nine khung, and its king is fiercer than the Black Dragon. That you were able to get the chariots must have been owing to your finding him asleep. Let him awake, and you will be ground to powder.'

13: No sacrificial ox

Some (ruler) having sent a message of invitation to him, Kwang-sze replied to the messenger,

'Have you seen, Sir, a sacrificial ox? It is robed with ornamental embroidery, and feasted on fresh grass and beans. But when it is led into the grand ancestral temple, though it wished to be (again) a solitary calf, would that be possible for it?

14: Chuang Tzu's grand burial request

When Master Chuang was about to die, his disciples signified their wish to give him a grand burial.

'I shall have heaven and earth,' said he, 'for my coffin and its shell; the sun and moon for my two round symbols of jade; the stars and constellations for my pearls and jewels; and all things assisting as the mourners. Won't the provisions for my burial be complete? What could you add to them?'

The disciples replied,

'We are afraid that the crows and kites will eat our master.'

Master Chuang rejoined,

'Above, the crows and kites will eat me; below, the mole-crickets and ants will eat me: to take from those and give to these would only show your partiality.'

The attempt, with what is not even, to produce what is even will only produce an uneven result; the attempt, with what is uncertain, to make the uncertain certain will leave the uncertainty as it was. He who uses only the sight of his eyes is acted on by what he sees; it is the (intuition of the) spirit, that gives the assurance of certainty. That the sight of the eyes is not equal to that intuition of the spirit is a thing long acknowledged. And yet stupid people rely on what they see, and will have it to be the sentiment of all men; – all their success being with what is external: is it not sad?

What a human sees with his two eyes is not all there is to be aware of.


33. Thien Hsiâ

1: The One, our primal source

The methods employed in the regulation of the world are many; and (the employers of them) think each that the efficiency of his own method leaves nothing to be added to it.

But where is what was called of old 'the method of the Tao?'

We must reply,

'It is everywhere.'

But then, where does the spiritual in it come down from? and where does the intelligence in it come forth from? There is that which gives birth to the Sage, and that which gives his perfection to the King: the origin of both is the One.

Not to be separate from his primal source constitutes what we call the Heavenly man; not to be separate from the essential nature thereof constitutes what we call the Spirit-like man; not to be separate from its real truth constitutes what we call the Perfect man.

To regard Heaven as his primal Source, Its Attributes as the Root (of his nature), and the Tao as the Gate (by which he enters into this inheritance), (knowing also) the prognostics given in change and transformation, constitutes what we call the Sagely man.

To regard benevolence as (the source of all) kindness, righteousness as (the source of all) distinctions, propriety as (the rule of) all conduct, and music as (the idea of) all harmony, thus diffusing a fragrance of gentleness and goodness, constitutes what we call the Superior man.

To regard laws as assigning the different (social) conditions, their names as the outward expression (of the social duties), the comparison of subjects as supplying the grounds of evidence, investigation as conducting to certainty, so that things can be numbered as first, second, third, fourth (and so on): (this is the basis of government). Its hundred offices are thus arranged; business has its regular course; the great matters of clothes and food are provided for; cattle are fattened and looked after; the (government) stores are filled; the old and weak, orphans and solitaries, receive anxious consideration: in all these ways is provision made for the nourishment of the people.

How complete was (the operation of the Tao) in the men of old! It made them the equals of spiritual beings, and subtle and all-embracing as heaven and earth. They nourished all things, and produced harmony all under heaven. Their beneficent influence reached to all classes of the people. They understood all fundamental principles, and followed them out to their graduated issues; in all the six directions went their penetration, and in the four quarters all things were open to them. Great and small, fine and coarse; – all felt their presence and operation. Their intelligence, as seen in all their regulations, was handed down from age to age in their old laws, and much of it was still to be found in the Historians. What of it was in the Shih, the Shu, the Li, and the Yo, might be learned from the scholars of Zâu and Lu', and the girdled members of the various courts. The Shih describes what should be the aim of the mind; the Shu, the course of events; the Li is intended to direct the conduct; the Yo, to set forth harmony; the Yi, to show the action of the Yin and Yang; and the Khun Khiu, to display names and the duties belonging to them.

Some of the regulations (of these men of old), scattered all under heaven, and established in our Middle states, are (also) occasionally mentioned and described in the writings of the different schools.

There ensued great disorder in the world, and sages and worthies no longer shed their light on it. The Tao and its characteristics ceased to be regarded as uniform. Many in different places got one glimpse of it, and plumed themselves on possessing it as a whole. They might be compared to the ear, the eye, the nose, or the mouth. Each sense has its own faculty, but their different faculties cannot be interchanged. So it was with the many branches of the various schools. Each had its peculiar excellence, and there was the time for the use of it; but notwithstanding no one covered or extended over the whole (range of truth). The case was that of the scholar of a corner who passes his judgement on all the beautiful in heaven and earth, discriminates the principles that underlie all things, and attempts to estimate the success arrived at by the ancients. Seldom is it that such an one can embrace all the beautiful in heaven and earth, or rightly estimate the ways of the spiritual and intelligent; and thus it was that the Tao, which inwardly forms the sage and externally the king, became obscured and lost its clearness, became repressed and lost its development. Every one in the world did whatever he wished, and was the rule to himself. Alas! the various schools held on their several ways, and could not come back to the same point, nor agree together. The students of that later age unfortunately did not see the undivided purity of heaven and earth, and the great scheme of truth held by the ancients. The system of the Tao was about to be torn in fragments all under the sky.

Sweet benevolence and harmonious music are fine things in a life.

2: Different views

To leave no example of extravagance to future generations; to show no wastefulness in the use of anything; to make no display in the degree of their (ceremonial) observances; to keep themselves (in their expenditure) under the restraint of strict and exact rule, so as to be prepared for occurring emergencies; – such regulations formed part of the system of the Tao in antiquity, and were appreciated by Mo Ti, and (his disciple) Khin Hwa-li. When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them; but they enjoined them in excess, and followed them themselves too strictly. (Mo) made the treatise 'Against Music,' and enjoined the subject of another, called 'Economy in Expenditure,' on his followers. He would have no singing in life, and no wearing of mourning on occasions of death. He inculcated Universal Love, and a Common Participation in all advantages, and condemned Fighting. His doctrine did not admit of Anger. He was fond also of Learning, and with it all strove not to appear different from others. Yet he did not agree with the former kings, but attacked the ceremonies and music of the ancients.

Hwang-Ti had his Hsien-khih; Yao, his TâKang; Shun, his TâShâo; Yü, his TâHsiâ; Tang, his TâHu; king Wän, his music of the Phi-yung; and king Wu and the duke of Kâu made the Wu.

In the mourning rites of the ancients, the noble and mean had their several observances, the high and low their different degrees. The coffin of the Son of Heaven was sevenfold; of a feudal lord, fivefold; of a great officer, threefold; of other officers, twofold. But now Master Mo alone, would have no singing during life, and no wearing of mourning after death. As the rule for all, he would have a coffin of elaeococca wood, three inches thick, and without any enclosing shell. The teaching of such lessons cannot be regarded as affording a proof of his love for men; his practising them in his own case would certainly show that he did not love himself; but this has not been sufficient to overthrow the views of Master Mo. Notwithstanding, men will sing, and he condemns singing; men will wail, and he condemns wailing; men will express their joy, and he condemns such expression: is this truly in accordance with man's nature? Through life toil, and at death niggardliness: his way is one of great unkindliness. Causing men sorrow and melancholy, and difficult to be carried into practice, I fear it cannot be regarded as the way of a sage. Contrary to the minds of men everywhere, men won't endure it. Though Master Mo himself might be able to endure it, how can the aversion of the world to it be overcome? The world averse to it, it must be far from the way of the (ancient) kings.

Master Mo, in praise of his views, said,

'Anciently, when Yü was draining off the waters of the flood, he set free the channels of the Kiang and the Ho, and opened communications with them from the regions of the four Î and the nine provinces. The famous hills with which he dealt were 300, the branch streams were 3000, and the smaller ones innumerable. With his own hands he carried the sack and wielded the spade, till he had united all the streams of the country (conducting them to the sea). There was no hair left on his legs from the knee to the ankle. He bathed his hair in the violent wind, and combed it in the pelting rain, thus marking out the myriad states. Yü was a great sage, and thus he toiled in the service of the world.'

The effect of this is that in this later time most of the Mohists wear skins and dolychos cloth, with shoes of wood or twisted hemp, not stopping day or night, but considering such toiling on their part as their highest achievement. They say that he who cannot do this is acting contrary to the way of Yü, and not fit to be a Mohist.

The disciples of Khin of Hsiang-li, the followers of the various feudal lords; and Mohists of the south, such as Ku Hu, Ki Khih, and Täng Master Ling, all repeated the texts of Mo, but they differed in the objections which they offered to them, and in their deceitful glosses they called one another Mohists of different schools. They had their disputations, turning on 'what was hard,' and 'what was white,' what constituted 'sameness' and what 'difference,' and their expressions about the difference between 'the odd' and the even,' with which they answered one another. They regarded their most distinguished member as a sage, and wished to make him their chief, hoping that he would be handed down as such to future ages. To the present day these controversies are not determined.

The idea of Mo Ti and Khin Hwa-li was good, but their practice was wrong. They would have made the Mohists of future ages feel it necessary to toil themselves, till there was not a hair on their legs, and still be urging one another on; (thus producing a condition) superior indeed to disorder, but inferior to the result of good government. Nevertheless, Master Mo was indeed one of the best men in the world, which you may search without finding his equal. Decayed and worn (his person) might be, but he is not to be rejected, – a scholar of ability indeed!

The Tao system is used to regulate goings today too. Acupuncture, Feng Shui and so on derive from it, and I Ching divination too.

3: By the warmth of the Chief Thing: forbearance

To keep from being entangled by prevailing customs; to shun all ornamental attractions in one's self; not to be reckless in his conduct to others; not to set himself stubbornly against a multitude; to desire the peace and repose of the world in order to preserve the lives of the people; and to cease his action when enough had been obtained for the nourishment of others and himself, showing that this was the aim of his mind; – such a scheme belonged to the system of the Tao in antiquity, and it was appreciated by Sung Hsing and Yin Wän. When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them. They made the Hwa-shan cap, and wore it as their distinguishing badge. In their intercourse with others, whatever their differences might be, they began by being indulgent to them. Their name for 'the Forbearance of the Mind' was 'the Action of the Mind.'

By the warmth of affection they sought the harmony of joy, and to blend together all within the four seas; and their wish was to plant this everywhere as the chief thing to be pursued. They endured insult without feeling it a disgrace; they sought to save the people from fighting; they forbade aggression and sought to hush the weapons of strife, to save their age from war. In this way they went everywhere, counselling the high and instructing the low. Though the world might not receive them, they only insisted on their object the more strongly, and would not abandon it. Hence it is said,

'The high and the low might be weary of them, but they were strong to show themselves.'

Notwithstanding all this, they acted too much out of regard to others, and too little for themselves. It was as if they said,

'What we request and wish is simply that there may be set down for us five pints of rice; – that will be enough.'

But I fear the Master would not get his fill from this; and the disciples, though famishing, would still have to be mindful of the world, and, never stopping day or night, have to say,

'Is it necessary I should preserve my life? Shall I scheme how to exalt myself above the master, the saviour of the age?'

It was moreover as if they said,

'The superior man does not censoriously scrutinize (the faults of others); he does not borrow from others to supersede his own endeavours; when any think that he is of no use to the world, he knows that their intelligence is inferior to his own; he considers the prohibition of aggression and causing the disuse of arms to be an external achievement, and the making his own desires to be few and slight to be the internal triumph.'

Such was their discrimination between the great and the small, the subtle and the coarse; and with the attainment of this they stopped.

4: Courses that belonged to the Taoists of antiquity

Public-spirited, and with nothing of the partisan; easy and compliant, without any selfish partialities; capable of being led, without any positive tendencies; following in the wake of others, without any double mind; not looking round because of anxious thoughts; not scheming in the exercise of their wisdom; not choosing between parties, but going along with all; – all such courses belonged to the Taoists of antiquity, and they were appreciated by Phäng Mäng, Thien Phien, and Shän Tao. When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them. They considered that the first thing for them to do was to adjust the controversies about different things. They said,

'Heaven can cover, but it cannot sustain; Earth can contain, but it cannot cover. The Great Tao embraces all things, but It does not discriminate between them.'

They knew that all things have what they can do and what they cannot do. Hence it is said,

'If you select, you do not reach all; if you teach some things, you must omit the others; but the Tao neglects none.'

Therefore Shän Tao discarded his knowledge and also all thought of himself, acting only where he had no alternative, and pursued it as his course to be indifferent and pure in his dealings with others. He said that the best knowledge was to have no knowledge, and that if we had a little knowledge it was likely to prove a dangerous thing. Conscious of his unfitness, he undertook no charge, and laughed at those who valued ability and virtue. Remiss and evasive, he did nothing, and disallowed the greatest sages which the world had known. Now with a hammer, now with his hand, smoothing all corners, and breaking all bonds, he accommodated himself to all conditions. He disregarded right and wrong, his only concern being to avoid trouble; he learned nothing from the wise and thoughtful, and took no note of the succession of events, thinking only of carrying himself with a lofty disregard of everything. He went where he was pushed, and followed where he was led, like a whirling wind, like a feather tossed about, like the revolutions of a grindstone.

What was the reason that he appeared thus complete, doing nothing wrong? that, whether in motion or at rest, he committed no error, and could be charged with no transgression? Creatures that have no knowledge are free from the troubles that arise from self-assertion and the entanglements that spring from the use of knowledge. Moving and at rest) they do not depart from their proper course, and all their life long they do not receive any praise. Hence (Shän Tao) said,

'Let me come to be like a creature without knowledge. Of what use are the (teachings of the) sages and worthies?'

But a clod of earth never fails in the course (proper for it), and men of spirit and eminence laughed together at him, and said,

'The way of Shän Tao does not describe the conduct of living men; that it should be predicable only of the dead is strange indeed!'

It was just the same with Thien Phien. He learned under Phäng Mäng, but it was as if he were not taught at all. The master of Phäng Mäng said,

'The Taoist professors of old came no farther than to say that nothing was absolutely right and nothing absolutely wrong.'

His spirit was like the breath of an opposing wind; how can it be described in words? But he was always contrary to (the views of) other men, which he would not bring together to view, and he did not escape shaving the corners and bonds (of which I have spoken). What he called the Tao was not the true Tao, and what he called the right was really the wrong

Phäng Mäng, Thien Phien, and Shin Tao did not in fact know the Tao; but nevertheless they had heard in a general way about it.

To answer, "Of what use are the (Tao system-based teachings of the) sages and worthies?", these words by Kurt Z. Lewin (1890-1947) need to be taken into account: "There is nothing so useful as a good theory" - and take it from there.

5: Of the Grand Unity

To take the root (from which things spring) as the essential (part), and the things as its coarse (embodiment); to see deficiency in accumulation; and in the solitude of one's individuality to dwell with the spirit-like and intelligent; – such a course belonged to the Tao of antiquity, and it was appreciated by Kwan Yin and Lao Tan. When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them. They built their system on the assumption of an eternal non-existence, and made the ruling idea in it that of the Grand Unity. They made weakness and humility their mark of distinction, and considered that by empty vacuity no injury could be sustained, but all things be preserved in their substantiality.

Kwan Yin says,

'To him who does not dwell in himself the forms of things show themselves as they are. His movement is like that of water; his stillness is like that of a mirror; his response is like that of the echo. His tenuity makes him seem to be disappearing altogether; he is still as a clear (lake), harmonious in his association with others, and he counts gain as loss. He does not take precedence of others, but follows them.'

Lao Tan says,

'He knows his masculine power, but maintains his female weakness, – becoming the channel into which all streams flow. He knows his white purity, but keeps his disgrace, – becoming the valley of the world. Men all prefer to be first; he alone chooses to be last, saying, "I will receive the offscourings of the world." Men all choose fulness; he alone chooses emptiness. He does not store, and therefore he has a superabundance; he looks solitary, but has a multitude around him. In his conducting of himself he is easy and leisurely and wastes nothing. He does nothing, and laughs at the clever and ingenious. Men all seek for happiness, but he feels complete in his imperfect condition, and says, "Let me only escape blame." He regards what is deepest as his root, and what is most restrictive as his rule; and says, "The strong is broken; the sharp and pointed is blunted." He is always generous and forbearing with others, and does not encroach on any man; – this may be pronounced the height (of perfection).'

Delight in harmonious solitude as an individual.

6: Dealing with Confucius

That the shadowy and still is without bodily form; that change and transformation are ever proceeding, but incapable of being determined. What is death? What is life? What is meant by the union of Heaven and Earth? Does the spiritual intelligence go away? Shadowy, where does it go? Subtle, where does it proceed? All things being arranged as they are, there is no one place which can be fitly ascribed to it. Such were the questions belonging to the scheme of Tao in antiquity, and they were appreciated by Kwang Kâu. When he heard of such subjects, he was delighted with them. (He discussed them), using strange and mystical expressions, wild and extravagant words, and phrases to which no definite meaning could be assigned. He constantly indulged his own wayward ideas, but did not make himself a partisan, nor look at them as peculiar to himself. Considering that men were sunk in stupidity and could not be talked to in dignified style, he employed the words of the cup of endless application, with important quotations to substantiate the truth, and an abundance of corroborative illustrations. He chiefly cared to occupy himself with the spirit-like operation of heaven and earth, and did not try to rise above the myriads of things. He did not condemn the agreements and differences of others, so that he might live in peace with the prevalent views. Though his writings may seem to be sparkling trifles, there is no harm in amusing one's self with them; though his phraseology be ever-varying, its turns and changes are worth being looked at; – the fulness and completeness of his ideas cannot be exhausted. Above he seeks delight in the Maker; below, he has a friendly regard to those who consider life and death as having neither beginning nor end. As regards his dealing with the Root (origin of all things), he is comprehensive and great, opening up new views, deep, vast, and free. As regards the Author and Master (the Great Tao Itself), he may be pronounced exact and correct, carrying our thoughts to range and play on high. Nevertheless on the subject of transformation, and the emancipation of that from (the thraldom of) things, his principles are inexhaustible, and are not derived from his predecessors. They are subtle and obscure, and cannot be fully explained.

Subtle thoughts often looking like platitudes - that is much of what the Confucian Analects pass as.

7: Exhibitious sophist notions

Hui Shih had many ingenious notions. His writings would fill five carriages; but his doctrines were erroneous and contradictory, and his words were wide of their mark. Taking up one thing after another, he would say: 'That which is so great that there is nothing outside it may be called the Great One; and that which is so small that there is nothing inside it may be called the Small One.'

'What has no thickness and won't admit of being repeated is 1000 li in size.'

'Heaven may be as low as the earth.'

'A mountain may be as level as a marsh.'

'The sun in the meridian may be the sun declining.'

'A creature may be born to life and may die at the same time.'

'(When it is said that) things greatly alike are different from things a little alike, this is what is called making little of agreements and differences; (when it is said that) all things are entirely alike or entirely different, this is what is called making much of agreements and differences.'

'The south is unlimited and yet has a limit.'

'I proceed to Yueh today and came to it yesterday.'

'Things which are joined together can be separated.'

'I know the centre of the world; – it is north of Yen or south of Yueh.'

'If all things be regarded with love, heaven and earth are of one body (with me).'

Hui Shih by such sayings as these made himself very conspicuous throughout the kingdom, and was considered an able debater. All other debaters vied with one another and delighted in similar exhibitions. (They would say),

'There are feathers in an egg.'

'A fowl has three feet.'

'The kingdom belongs to Ying.'

'A dog might have been (called) a sheep.'

'A tadpole has a tail.'

'Fire is not hot.'

'A mountain gives forth a voice.'

'A wheel does not tread on the ground.'

'The eye does not see.'

'The finger indicates, but needs not touch, (the object).'

'Where you come to may not be the end.'

'The tortoise is longer than the snake.'

'The carpenter's square is not square.'

'A compass should not itself be round.'

'A chisel does not surround its handle.'

'The shadow of a flying bird does not (itself) move.'

'Swift as the arrowhead is, there is a time when it is neither flying nor at rest.'

'A dog is not a hound.'

'A bay horse and a black ox are three.'

'A white dog is black.'

'A motherless colt never had a mother.'

'If from a stick a foot long you every day take the half of it, in a myriad ages it won't be exhausted.' – It was in this way that the debaters responded to Hui Shih, all their lifetime, without coming to an end.

Hwan Twan and Kung-sun Lung were true members of this class. By their specious representations they threw a glamour over men's minds and altered their ideas. They vanquished men in argument, but could not subdue their minds, only keeping them in the enclosure of their sophistry. Hui Shih daily used his own knowledge and the arguments of others to propose strange theses to all debaters such was his practice. At the same time he would talk freely of himself, thinking himself the ablest among them, and saying,

'In heaven or earth who is my match?'

Shih maintained indeed his masculine energy, but he had not the art (of controversy). In the south there was a man of extraordinary views, named Hwang Liâo, who asked him how it was that the sky did not fall nor the earth sink, and what was the cause of wind, rain, and the thunder's roll and crash. Shih made no attempt to evade the questions, and answered him without any exercise of thought, talking about all things, without pause, on and on without end; yet still thinking that his words were few, and adding to them the strangest observations. He thought that to contradict others was a real triumph, and wished to make himself famous by overcoming them; and on this account he was not liked by the multitude of debaters. He was weak in real attainment, though he might seem strong in comparison with others, and his way was narrow and dark. If we look at Hui Shih's ability from the standpoint of Heaven and Earth, it was only like the restless activity of a mosquito or gadfly; of what service was it to anything? To give its full development to any one capacity is a good thing, and he who does so is in the way to a higher estimation of the Tao; but Hui Shih could find no rest for himself in doing this. He diffused himself over the world of things without satiety, till in the end he had only the reputation of being a skilful debater. Alas! Hui Shih, with all his talents, vast as they were, made nothing out; he pursued all subjects and never came back (with success). It was like silencing an echo by his shouting, or running a race with his shadow. Alas!



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