Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VII. - The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Taoism. Part I: The Tao Teh King. The Writings of Kwang Ze Books I-XVII
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BOOK VII. - Lao Tzu, The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Taoism. Part I: The Tao Teh King. The Writings of Kwang Ze Books I-XVII 
The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Taoism. Part I: The Tao Teh King. The Writings of Kwang Ze Books I-XVII, trans. James Legge (Oxford University Press, 1891).
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Part I. Section VII.
Ying Tî Wang1 , or ‘The Normal Course for Rulers and Kings .’
1. Nieh Khüeh2 put four questions to Wang Î , not one of which did he know (how to answer). On this Nieh Khüeh leaped up, and in great delight walked away and informed Phû-î-ȝze3 of it, who said to him, ‘Do you (only) now know it?’ He of the line of Yü4 was not equal to him of the line of Thâi5 . He of Yü still kept in himself (the idea of) benevolence by which to constrain (the submission of) men; and he did win men, but he had not begun to proceed by what did not belong to him as a man. He of the line of Thâi would sleep tranquilly, and awake in contented simplicity. He would consider himself now (merely) as a horse, and now (merely) as an ox6 . His knowledge was real and untroubled by doubts; and his virtue was very true:—he had not begun to proceed by what belonged to him as a man.
2.Kien Wû1 went to see the mad (recluse), Khieh-yü2 , who said to him, ‘What did Zăh-kung Shih3 tell you?’ The reply was, ‘He told me that when rulers gave forth their regulations according to their own views and enacted righteous measures, no one would venture not to obey them, and all would be transformed.’ Khieh-yü said, ‘That is but the hypocrisy of virtue. For the right ordering of the world it would be like trying to wade through the sea and dig through the Ho, or employing a musquito to carry a mountain on its back. And when a sage is governing, does he govern men’s outward actions? He is (himself) correct, and so (his government) goes on;—this is the simple and certain way by which he secures the success of his affairs. Think of the bird which flies high, to avoid being hurt by the dart on the string of the archer, and the little mouse which makes its hole deep under Shăn-khiû4 to avoid the danger of being smoked or dug out;—are (rulers) less knowing than these two little creatures?’
3. Thien Kăn5 , rambling on the south of (mount) Yin6 , came to the neighbourhood of the Liâo-water. Happening there to meet with the man whose name is not known1 , he put a question to him, saying, ‘I beg to ask what should be done2 in order to (carry on) the government of the world.’ The nameless man said, ‘Go away; you are a rude borderer. Why do you put to me a question for which you are unprepared3 ? I would simply play the part of the Maker of (all) things4 . When wearied, I would mount on the bird of the light and empty air, proceed beyond the six cardinal points, and wander in the region of nonentity, to dwell in the wilderness of desert space. What method have you, moreover, for the government of the world that you (thus) agitate my mind?’ (Thien Kăn), however, again asked the question, and the nameless man said, ‘Let your mind find its enjoyment in pure simplicity; blend yourself with (the primary) ether in idle indifference; allow all things to take their natural course; and admit no personal or selfish consideration:—do this and the world will be governed.’
4. Yang Ȝze-kü5 , having an interview with Lâo Tan, said to him, ‘Here is a man, alert and vigorous in responding to all matters1 , clearsighted and widely intelligent, and an unwearied student of the Tâo;—can he be compared to one of the intelligent kings?’ The reply was, ‘Such a man is to one of the intelligent kings but as the bustling underling of a court who toils his body and distresses his mind with his various contrivances2 . And moreover, it is the beauty of the skins of the tiger and leopard which makes men hunt them; the agility of the monkey, or (the sagacity of) the dog that catches the yak, which make men lead them in strings; but can one similarly endowed be compared to the intelligent kings?’
Yang Ȝze-kü looked discomposed and said, ‘I venture to ask you what the government of the intelligent kings is.’ Lâo Tan replied, ‘In the governing of the intelligent kings, their services overspread all under the sky, but they did not seem to consider it as proceeding from themselves; their transforming influence reached to all things, but the people did not refer it to them with hope. No one could tell the name of their agency, but they made men and things be joyful in themselves. Where they took their stand could not be fathomed, and they found their enjoyment in (the realm of) nonentity.’
5. In Kăng there was a mysterious wizard3 called Ki-hsien. He knew all about the deaths and births of men, their preservation and ruin, their misery and happiness, and whether their lives would be long or short, foretelling the year, the month, the decade and the day like a spirit. When the people of Kăng saw him, they all ran out of his way. Lieh-ȝze went to see him, and was fascinated1 by him. Returning, he told Hû-ȝze of his interview, and said, ‘I considered your doctrine, my master, to be perfect, but I have found another which is superior to it.’ Hû-ȝze2 replied, ‘I have communicated to you but the outward letter of my doctrine, and have not communicated its reality and spirit; and do you think that you are in possession of it? However many hens there be, if there be not the cock among them, how should they lay (real) eggs3 ? When you confront the world with your doctrine, you are sure to show in your countenance (all that is in your mind)4 , and so enable (this) man to succeed in interpreting your physiognomy. Try and come to me with him, that I may show myself to him.’
On the morrow, accordingly, Lieh-ȝze came with the man and saw Hû-ȝze. When they went out, the wizard said, ‘Alas! your master is a dead man. He will not live;—not for ten days more! I saw something strange about him;—I saw the ashes (of his life) all slaked with water!’ When Lieh-ȝze reentered, he wept till the front of his jacket was wet with his tears, and told Hû-ȝze what the man had said. Hû-ȝze said, ‘I showed myself to him with the forms of (vegetation beneath) the earth. There were the sprouts indeed, but without (any appearance of) growth or regularity:—he seemed to see me with the springs of my (vital) power closed up. Try and come to me with him again.’
Next day, accordingly, Lieh-ȝze brought the man again and saw Hû-ȝze. When they went out, the man said, ‘It is a fortunate thing for your master that he met with me. He will get better; he has all the signs of living! I saw the balance (of the springs of life) that had been stopped (inclining in his favour).’ Lieh-ȝze went in, and reported these words to his master, who said, ‘I showed myself to him after the pattern of the earth (beneath the) sky. Neither semblance nor reality entered (into my exhibition), but the springs (of life) were issuing from beneath my feet;—he seemed to see me with the springs of vigorous action in full play. Try and come with him again.’
Next day Lieh-ȝze came with the man again, and again saw Hû-ȝze with him. When they went out, the wizard said, ‘Your master is never the same. I cannot understand his physiognomy. Let him try to steady himself, and I will again view him.’ Lieh-ȝze went in and reported this to Hû-ȝze, who said, ‘This time I showed myself to him after the pattern of the grand harmony (of the two elemental forces), with the superiority inclining to neither. He seemed to see me with the springs of (vital) power in equal balance. Where the water wheels about from (the movements of) a dugong1 , there is an abyss; where it does so from the arresting (of its course), there is an abyss; where it does so, and the water keeps flowing on, there is an abyss. There are nine abysses with their several names, and I have only exhibited three of them. Try and come with him again.’
Next day they came, and they again saw Hû-ȝze. But before he had settled himself in his position, the wizard lost himself and ran away. ‘Pursue him,’ said Hû-ȝze, and Lieh-ȝze did so, but could not come up with him. He returned, and told Hû-ȝze, saying, ‘There is an end of him; he is lost; I could not find him.’ Hû-ȝze rejoined, ‘I was showing him myself after the pattern of what was before I began to come from my author. I confronted him with pure vacancy, and an easy indifference. He did not know what I meant to represent. Now he thought it was the idea of exhausted strength, and now that of an onward flow, and therefore he ran away.’
After this, Lieh-ȝze considered that he had not yet begun to learn (his master’s doctrine). He returned to his house, and for three years did not go out. He did the cooking for his wife. He fed the pigs as if he were feeding men. He took no part or interest in occurring affairs. He put away the carving and sculpture about him, and returned to pure simplicity. Like a clod of earth he stood there in his bodily presence. Amid all distractions he was (silent) and shut up in himself. And in this way he continued to the end of his life.
6. Non-action (makes its exemplifier) the lord of all fame; non-action (serves him as) the treasury of all plans; non-action (fits him for) the burden of all offices; non-action (makes him) the lord of all wisdom1 . The range of his action is inexhaustible, but there is nowhere any trace of his presence. He fulfils all that he has received from Heaven2 , but he does not see that he was the recipient of anything. A pure vacancy (of all purpose) is what characterises him. When the perfect man employs his mind, it is a mirror. It conducts nothing and anticipates nothing; it responds to (what is before it), but does not retain it. Thus he is able to deal successfully with all things, and injures none.
7. The Ruler3 of the Southern Ocean was Shû4 , the Ruler of the Northern Ocean was Hû1 , and the Ruler of the Centre was Chaos. Shû and Hû were continually meeting in the land of Chaos, who treated them very well. They consulted together how they might repay his kindness, and said, ‘Men all have seven orifices for the purpose of seeing, hearing, eating, and breathing, while this (poor) Ruler alone has not one. Let us try and make them for him.’ Accordingly they dug one orifice in him every day; and at the end of seven days Chaos died2 .
[1 ] See pp. 136-138.
[2 ] See p. 190, note 5.
[3 ] An ancient Tâoist, of the time of Shun. So, Hwang-fû Mî, who adds that Shun served him as his master when he was eight years old. I suppose the name indicates that his clothes were made of rushes.
[4 ] Shun. See p. 245, note 3.
[5 ] An ancient sovereign, earlier, no doubt, than Fû-hsî; but nothing is known of him.
[6 ] He thought nothing about his being, as a man, superior to the lower creatures. Shun in governing employed his acquired knowledge; Thâi had not begun to do so.
[1 ] See p. 170, note 2.
[2 ] See p. 170, note 3.
[3 ] A name;—‘a worthy,’ it is said.
[4 ] Name of some hill, or height.
[5 ] A name (‘Root of the sky’), but probably mythical. There is a star so called.
[6 ] Probably the name of a mountain, though this meaning of Yin is not given in the dictionary.
[1 ] Or, ‘a nameless man.’ We cannot tell whether Kwang-ȝze had any particular Being, so named, in view or not.
[2 ] The objectionable point in the question is the supposition that ‘doing’ was necessary in the case.
[3 ] Or, ‘I am unprepared.’ But as Thien Kăn repeats the question, it seems better to supply the second pronoun. He had thought on the subject.
[4 ] See the same phraseology in VI, par. 11. What follows is merely our author’s way of describing the non-action of the Tâo.
[5 ] The Yang Kû, whom Mencius attacked so fiercely. He was, perhaps, a contemporary and disciple of Lâo-ȝze.
[1 ] The may be taken as = , in which case we must understand a as its object; or as = , ‘an echo,’ indicating the quickness of the man’s response to things.
[2 ] Compare the language of Lâo Tan, in Bk. XII, par. 8, near the beginning.
[3 ] is generally feminine, meaning ‘a witch.’ We must take it here as masculine (= ). The general meaning of the character is ‘magical,’ the antics of such performers to bring down the spirits.
[1 ] Literally, ‘intoxicated.’
[2 ] The teacher in Tâoism of Lieh-ȝze, called also Hû Khiû, with the name Lin (). See the remarks on the whole paragraph in the Introductory Notice of the Book.
[3 ] ‘The hens’ signify the letter of the doctrine; ‘the cock,’ its spirit; ‘the eggs,’ a real knowledge of it.
[4 ] is here in the first tone, and read as , meaning ‘to stretch,’ ‘to set forth.’
[1 ] One of the dugong. It has various names in Chinese, one being , ‘the Man-Fish,’ from a fancied resemblance of its head and face to a human being;—the origin perhaps of the idea of the mermaid.
[1 ] The four members of this sentence occasion the translator no small trouble. They are constructed on the same lines, and seem to me to be indicative and not imperative. Lin Hsî-kung observes that all the explanations that had been offered of them were inappropriate. My own version is substantially in accordance with his interpretations. The chief difficulty is with the first member, which seems anti-Tâoistic; but our author is not speaking of the purpose of any actor, but of the result of his non-action. is to be taken in the sense of , ‘lord,’ ‘exercising lordship.’ The in the third sentence indicates a person or persons in the author’s mind in what precedes.
[2 ] = the Heavenly or self-determining nature.
[3 ] Perhaps ‘god’ would be a better translation.
[4 ] Meaning ‘Heedless.’
[1 ] Meaning ‘Sudden.’
[2 ] The little allegory is ingenious and amusing. ‘It indicates,’ says Lin, ‘how action (the opposite of non-inaction) injures the first condition of things.’ More especially it is in harmony with the Tâoistic opposition to the use of knowledge in government. One critic says that an ‘alas!’ might well follow the concluding ‘died.’ But surely it was better that Chaos should give place to another state. ‘Heedless’ and ‘Sudden’ did not do a bad work.