Front Page Titles (by Subject) Part II - 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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Part II - 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 II. Section I.
Phien Mâu, or ‘Webbed Toes1 .’
1. A ligament uniting the big toe with the other toes and an extra finger may be natural2 growths, but they are more than is good for use. Excrescences on the person and hanging tumours are growths from the body, but they are unnatural additions to it. There are many arts of benevolence and righteousness, and the exercise of them is distributed among the five viscera3 ; but this is not the correct method according to the characteristics of the Tâo. Thus it is that the addition to the foot is but the attachment to it of so much useless flesh, and the addition to the hand is but the planting on it of a useless finger. (So it is that) the connecting (the virtues) with the five viscera renders, by excess or restraint, the action of benevolence and righteousness bad, and leads to many arts as in the employment of (great) powers of hearing or of vision.
2. Therefore an extraordinary power of vision leads to the confusion of the five colours1 and an excessive use of ornament. (Its possessor), in the resplendence of his green and yellow, white and black, black and green, will not stop till he has become a Lî Kû2 . An extraordinary power of hearing leads to a confusion of the five notes3 , and an excessive use of the six musical accords4 . (Its possessor), in bringing out the tones from the instruments of metal, stone, silk, and bamboo, aided by the Hwang-kung and Tâ-lü (tubes), will not stop till he has become a Shih Khwang5 . (So), excessive benevolence eagerly brings out virtues and restrains its (proper) nature, that (its possessor) may acquire a famous reputation, and cause all the organs and drums in the world to celebrate an unattainable condition; and he will not stop till he has become a Ȝăng (Shăn)6 or a Shih (Ȝhiû)7 . An extraordinary faculty in debating leads to the piling up of arguments like a builder with his bricks, or a net-maker with his string. (Its possessor) cunningly contrives his sentences and enjoys himself in discussing what hardness is and what whiteness is, where views agree and where they differ, and pressing on, though weary, with short steps, with (a multitude of) useless words to make good his opinion; nor will he stop till he has become a Yang (Kû)1 or Mo (Tî) . But in all these cases the parties, with their redundant and divergent methods, do not proceed by that which is the correct path for all under the sky. That which is the perfectly correct path is not to lose the real character of the nature with which we are endowed. Hence the union (of parts) should not be considered redundance, nor their divergence superfluity; what is long should not be considered too long, nor what is short too short. A duck’s legs, for instance, are short, but if we try to lengthen them, it occasions pain; and a crane’s legs are long, but if we try to cut off a portion of them, it produces grief. Where a part is by nature long, we are not to amputate, or where it is by nature long, we are not to lengthen it. There is no occasion to try to remove any trouble that it may cause.
3. The presumption is that benevolence and righteousness are not constituents of humanity; for to how much anxiety does the exercise of them give rise! Moreover when another toe is united to the great toe, to divide the membrane makes you weep; and when there is an extra finger, to gnaw it off makes you cry out. In the one case there is a member too many, and in the other a member too few; but the anxiety and pain which they cause is the same. The benevolent men of the present age look at the evils of the world, as with eyes full of dust, and are filled with sorrow by them, while those who are not benevolent, having violently altered the character of their proper nature, greedily pursue after riches and honours. The presumption therefore is that benevolence and righteousness are contrary to the nature of man:—how full of trouble and contention has the world been ever since the three dynasties1 began!
And moreover, in employing the hook and line, the compass and square, to give things their correct form you must cut away portions of what naturally belongs to them; in employing strings and fastenings, glue and varnish to make things firm, you must violently interfere with their qualities. The bendings and stoppings in ceremonies and music, and the factitious expression in the countenance of benevolence and righteousness, in order to comfort the minds of men:—these all show a failure in observing the regular principles (of the human constitution). All men are furnished with such regular principles; and according to them what is bent is not made so by the hook, nor what is straight by the line, nor what is round by the compass, nor what is square by the carpenter’s square. Nor is adhesion effected by the use of glue and varnish, nor are things bound together by means of strings and bands. Thus it is that all in the world are produced what they are by a certain guidance, while they do not know how they are produced so; and they equally attain their several ends while they do not know how it is that they do so. Anciently it was so, and it is so now; and this constitution of things should not be made of none effect. Why then should benevolence and righteousness be employed as connecting (links), or as glue and varnish, strings and bands, and the enjoyment arising from the Tâo and its characteristics be attributed to them?—it is a deception practised upon the world. Where the deception is small, there will be a change in the direction (of the objects pursued); where it is great, there will be a change of the nature itself. How do I know that it is so? Since he of the line of Yü called in his benevolence and righteousness to distort and vex the world, the world has not ceased to hurry about to execute their commands;—has not this been by means of benevolence and righteousness to change (men’s views) of their nature?
4. I will therefore try and discuss this matter. From the commencement of the three dynasties downwards, nowhere has there been a man who has not under (the influence of external) things altered (the course of) his nature. Small men for the sake of gain have sacrificed their persons; scholars for the sake of fame have done so; great officers, for the sake of their families; and sagely men, for the sake of the kingdom. These several classes, with different occupations, and different reputations, have agreed in doing injury to their nature and sacrificing their persons. Take the case of a male and female slave1 ;—they have to feed the sheep together, but they both lose their sheep. Ask the one what he was doing, and you will find that he was holding his bamboo tablets and reading. Ask the other, and you will find that she was amusing herself with some game2 . They were differently occupied, but they equally lose their sheep. (So), Po-î3 died at the foot of Shâu-yang4 to maintain his fame, and the robber Kih5 died on the top of Tungling6 in his eagerness for gain. Their deaths were occasioned by different causes, but they equally shortened their lives and did violence to their nature;—why must we approve of Po-î, and condemn the robber Kih? In cases of such sacrifice all over the world, when one makes it for the sake of benevolence and righteousness, the common people style him ‘a superior man,’ but when another does it for the sake of goods and riches, they style him ‘a small man.’ The action of sacrificing is the same, and yet we have ‘the superior man’ and ‘the small man!’ In the matter of destroying his life, and doing injury to his nature, the robber Kih simply did the same as Po-î;—why must we make the distinction of ‘superior man’ and ‘small man’ between them?
5. Moreover, those who devote their nature to (the pursuit) of benevolence and righteousness, though they should attain to be like Ȝăng (Shăn) and Shih (Ȝhiû), I do not pronounce to be good; those who devote it to (the study of) the five flavours, though they attain to be like Shû-r1 , I do not pronounce to be good; those who devote it to the (discrimination of the) five notes, though they attain to be like Shih Khwang, I do not pronounce to be quick of hearing; those who devote it to the (appreciation of the) five colours, though they attain to be like Lî Kû, I do not pronounce to be clear of vision. When I pronounce men to be good, I am not speaking of their benevolence and righteousness;—the goodness is simply (their possession of) the qualities (of the Tâo). When I pronounce them to be good, I am not speaking of what are called benevolence and righteousness; but simply of their allowing the nature with which they are endowed to have its free course. When I pronounce men to be quick of hearing, I do not mean that they hearken to anything else, but that they hearken to themselves; when I pronounce them to be clear of vision, I do not mean that they look to anything else, but that they look to themselves. Now those who do not see themselves but see other things, who do not get possession of themselves but get possession of other things, get possession of what belongs to others, and not of what is their own; and they reach forth to what attracts others, and not to that in themselves which should attract them. But thus reaching forth to what attracts others and not to what should attract them in themselves, be they like the robber Kih or like Po-î, they equally err in the way of excess or of perversity. What I am ashamed of is erring in the characteristics of the Tâo, and therefore, in the higher sphere, I do not dare to insist on the practice of benevolence and righteousness, and, in the lower, I do not dare to allow myself either in the exercise of excess or perversity.
Part II. Section II.
Mâ Thî, or ‘Horses’s Hoofs1 .’
1. Horses can with their hoofs tread on the hoarfrost and snow, and with their hair withstand the wind and cold; they feed on the grass and drink water; they prance with their legs and leap:—this is the true nature of horses. Though there were made for them grand towers2 and large dormitories, they would prefer not to use them. But when Po-lâo3 (arose and) said, ‘I know well how to manage horses,’ (men proceeded)4 to singe and mark them, to clip their hair, to pare their hoofs, to halter their heads, to bridle them and hobble them, and to confine them in stables and corrals. (When subjected to this treatment), two or three in every ten of them died. (Men proceeded further) to subject them to hunger and thirst, to gallop them and race them, and to make them go together in regular order. In front were the evils of the bit and ornamented breast-bands, and behind were the terrors of the whip and switch. (When so treated), more than half of them died.
The (first) potter said, ‘I know well how to deal with clay;’ and (men proceeded) to mould it into circles as exact as if made by the compass, and into squares as exact as if formed by the measuring square. The (first) carpenter said, ‘I know well how to deal with wood;’ and (men proceeded) to make it bent as if by the application of the hook, and straight as if by the application of the plumb-line. But is it the nature of clay and wood to require the application of the compass and square, of the hook and line? And yet age after age men have praised Po-lâo, saying, ‘He knew well how to manage horses,’ and also the (first) potter and carpenter, saying, ‘They knew well how to deal with clay and wood.’ This is just the error committed by the governors of the world.
2. According to my idea, those who know well to govern mankind would not act so. The people had their regular and constant nature1 :—they wove and made themselves clothes; they tilled the ground and got food2 . This was their common faculty. They were all one in this, and did not form themselves into separate classes; so were they constituted and left to their natural tendencies3 . Therefore in the age of perfect virtue men walked along with slow and grave step, and with their looks steadily directed forwards. At that time, on the hills there were no foot-paths, nor excavated passages; on the lakes there were no boats nor dams; all creatures lived in companies; and the places of their settlement were made close to one another. Birds and beasts multiplied to flocks and herds; the grass and trees grew luxuriant and long. In this condition the birds and beasts might be led about without feeling the constraint; the nest of the magpie might be climbed to, and peeped into. Yes, in the age of perfect virtue, men lived in common with birds and beasts, and were on terms of equality with all creatures, as forming one family;—how could they know among themselves the distinctions of superior men and small men? Equally without knowledge, they did not leave (the path of) their natural virtue; equally free from desires, they were in the state of pure simplicity. In that state of pure simplicity, the nature of the people was what it ought to be. But when the sagely men appeared, limping and wheeling about in (the exercise of) benevolence, pressing along and standing on tiptoe in the doing of righteousness, then men universally began to be perplexed. (Those sages also) went to excess in their performances of music, and in their gesticulations in the practice of ceremonies, and then men began to be separated from one another. If the raw materials had not been cut and hacked, who could have made a sacrificial vase from them? If the natural jade had not been broken and injured, who could have made the handles for the libation-cups from it? If the attributes of the Tâo had not been disallowed, how should they have preferred benevolence and righteousness? If the instincts of the nature had not been departed from, how should ceremonies and music have come into use? If the five colours had not been confused, how should the ornamental figures have been formed? If the five notes had not been confused, how should they have supplemented them by the musical accords? The cutting and hacking of the raw materials to form vessels was the crime of the skilful workman; the injury done to the characteristics of the Tâo in order to the practice of benevolence and righteousness was the error of the sagely men.
3. Horses, when living in the open country, eat the grass, and drink water; when pleased, they intertwine their necks and rub one another; when enraged, they turn back to back and kick one another;—this is all that they know to do. But if we put the yoke on their necks, with the moonlike frontlet displayed on all their foreheads, then they know to look slily askance, to curve their necks, to rush viciously, trying to get the bit out of their mouths, and to filch the reins (from their driver);—this knowledge of the horse and its ability thus to act the part of a thief is the crime of Po-lâo. In the time of (the Tî) Ho-hsü1 , the people occupied their dwellings without knowing what they were doing, and walked out without knowing where they were going. They filled their mouths with food and were glad; they slapped their stomachs to express their satisfaction. This was all the ability which they possessed. But when the sagely men appeared, with their bendings and stoppings in ceremonies and music to adjust the persons of all, and hanging up their benevolence and righteousness to excite the endeavours of all to reach them, in order to comfort their minds, then the people began to stump and limp about in their love of knowledge, and strove with one another in their pursuit of gain, so that there was no stopping them:—this was the error of those sagely men.
Part II. Section III.
Khü Khieh, or ‘Cutting open Satchels1 .’
1. In taking precautions against thieves who cut open satchels, search bags, and break open boxes, people are sure to cord and fasten them well, and to employ strong bonds and clasps; and in this they are ordinarily said to show their wisdom. When a great thief comes, however, he shoulders the box, lifts up the satchel, carries off the bag, and runs away with them, afraid only that the cords, bonds, and clasps may not be secure; and in this case what was called the wisdom (of the owners) proves to be nothing but a collecting of the things for the great thief. Let me try and set this matter forth. Do not those who are vulgarly called wise prove to be collectors for the great thieves? And do not those who are called sages prove to be but guardians in the interest of the great thieves?
How do I know that the case is so? Formerly, in the state of Khî, the neighbouring towns could see one another; their cocks and dogs never ceased to answer the crowing and barking of other cocks and dogs (between them). The nets were set (in the water and on the land); and the ploughs and hoes were employed over more than a space of two thousand lî square. All within its four boundaries, the establishment of the ancestral temples and of the altars of the land and grain, and the ordering of the hamlets and houses, and of every corner in the districts, large, medium, and small, were in all particulars according to the rules of the sages1 . So it was; but yet one morning, Thien Khăng-ȝze2 killed the ruler of Khî, and stole his state. And was it only the state that he stole? Along with it he stole also the regulations of the sages and wise men (observed in it). And so, though he got the name of being a thief and a robber, yet he himself continued to live as securely as Yâo and Shun had done. Small states did not dare to find fault with him; great states did not dare to take him off; for twelve generations (his descendants) have possessed the state of Khî3 . Thus do we not have a case in which not only did (the party) steal the state of Khî, but at the same time the regulations of its sages and wise men, which thereby served to guard the person of him, thief and robber as he was?
2. Let me try to set forth this subject (still further). Have not there been among those vulgarly styled the wisest, such as have collected (their wealth) for the great chief? and among those styled the most sage such as have guarded it for him? How do I know that it has been so? Formerly, Lung-făng1 was beheaded; Pî-kan2 had his heart torn out; Khang Hung3 was ripped open; and Ȝze-hsü4 was reduced to pulp (in the Kiang). Worthy as those four men were, they did not escape such dreadful deaths. The followers of the robber Kih5 asked him, saying, ‘Has the robber also any method or principle (in his proceedings)?’ He replied, ‘What profession is there which has not its principles? That the robber in his recklessness comes to the conclusion that there are valuable deposits in an apartment shows his sageness; that he is the first to enter it shows his bravery; that he is the last to quit it shows his righteousness; that he knows whether (the robbery) may be attempted or not shows his wisdom; and that he makes an equal division of the plunder shows his benevolence. Without all these five qualities no one in the world has ever attained to become a great robber.’ Looking at the subject in this way, we see that good men do not arise without having the principles of the sages, and that Kih could not have pursued his course without the same principles. But the good men in the world are few, and those who are not good are many;—it follows that the sages benefit the world in a few instances and injure it in many. Hence it is that we have the sayings, ‘When the lips are gone the teeth are cold1 ;’ ‘The poor wine of Lû gave occasion to the siege of Han-tan2 ;’ ‘When sages are born great robbers arise3 .’ When the stream is dried, the valley is empty; when the mound is levelled, the deep pool (beside it) is filled up. When the sages have died, the great robbers will not arise; the world would be at peace, and there would be no more troubles. While the sagely men have not died, great robbers will not cease to appear. The more right that is attached to (the views of) the sagely men for the government of the world, the more advantage will accrue to (such men as) the robber Kih. If we make for men pecks and bushels to measure (their wares), even by means of those pecks and bushels should we be teaching them to steal1 ; if we make for them weights and steelyards to weigh (their wares), even by means of those weights and steelyards shall we be teaching them to steal. If we make for them tallies and seals to secure their good faith, even by means of those tallies and seals shall we be teaching them to steal. If we make for them benevolence and righteousness to make their doings correct, even by means of benevolence and righteousness shall we be teaching them to steal. How do I know that it is so? Here is one who steals a hook (for his girdle);—he is put to death for it: here is another who steals a state;—he becomes its prince. But it is at the gates of the princes that we find benevolence and righteousness (most strongly) professed;—is not this stealing benevolence and righteousness, sageness and wisdom? Thus they hasten to become great robbers, carry off princedoms, and steal benevolence and righteousness, with all the gains springing from the use of pecks and bushels, weights and steelyards, tallies and seals:—even the rewards of carriages and coronets have no power to influence (to a different course), and the terrors of the axe have no power to restrain in such cases. The giving of so great gain to robbers (like) Kih, and making it impossible to restrain them;—this is the error committed by the sages.
3. In accordance with this it is said, ‘Fish should not be taken from (the protection of) the deep waters; the agencies for the profit of a state should not be shown to men1 .’ But those sages (and their teachings) are the agencies for the profit of the world, and should not be exhibited to it. Therefore if an end were put to sageness and wisdom put away, the great robbers would cease to arise. If jade were put away and pearls broken to bits, the small thieves would not appear. If tallies were burned and seals broken in pieces, the people would become simple and unsophisticated. If pecks were destroyed and steelyards snapped in two, the people would have no wrangling. If the rules of the sages were entirely set aside in the world, a beginning might be made of reasoning with the people. If the six musical accords were reduced to a state of utter confusion, organs and lutes all burned, and the ears of the (musicians like the) blind Khwang2 stopped up, all men would begin to possess and employ their (natural) power of hearing. If elegant ornaments were abolished, the five embellishing colours disused, and the eyes of (men like) Lî Kû3 glued up, all men would begin to possess and employ their (natural) power of vision. If the hook and line were destroyed, the compass and square thrown away, and the fingers of men (like) the artful Khui4 smashed, all men would begin to possess and employ their (natural) skill;—as it is said, ‘The greatest art is like stupidity1 .’ If conduct such as that of Ȝăng (Shăn)2 and Shih (Khiû)3 were discarded, the mouths of Yang (Kû)4 and Mo (Tî) gagged, and benevolence and righteousness seized and thrown aside, the virtue of all men would begin to display its mysterious excellence. When men possessed and employed their (natural) power of vision, there would be no distortion in the world. When they possessed and employed their (natural) power of hearing, there would be no distractions in the world. When they possessed and employed their (natural) faculty of knowledge, there would be no delusions in the world. When they possessed and employed their (natural) virtue, there would be no depravity in the world. Men like Ȝăng (Shăn), Shih (Khiû), Yang (Kû), Mo (Tî), Shih Khwang (the musician), the artist Khui, and Lî Kû, all display their qualities outwardly, and set the world in a blaze (of admiration) and confound it;—a method which is of no use!
4. Are you, Sir, unacquainted with the age of perfect virtue? Anciently there were Yung-khăng, Tâ-thing, Po-hwang, Kang-yang, Lî-lû, Lî-khû, Hsien-yüan, Ho-hsü, Ȝun-lû, Kû-yung, Fû-hsî, and Shăn-năng5 . In their times the people made knots on cords in carrying on their affairs. They thought their (simple) food pleasant, and their (plain) clothing beautiful. They were happy in their (simple) manners, and felt at rest in their (poor) dwellings. (The people of) neighbouring states might be able to descry one another; the voices of their cocks and dogs might be heard (all the way) from one to the other; they might not die till they were old; and yet all their life they would have no communication together1 . In those times perfect good order prevailed.
Now-a-days, however, such is the state of things that you shall see the people stretching out their necks, and standing on tiptoe, while they say, ‘In such and such a place there is a wise and able man.’ Then they carry with them whatever dry provisions they may have left, and hurry towards it, abandoning their parents in their homes, and neglecting the service of their rulers abroad. Their footsteps may be traced in lines from one state to another, and the ruts of their chariot-wheels also for more than a thousand lî. This is owing to the error of their superiors in their (inordinate) fondness for knowledge. When those superiors do really love knowledge, but do not follow the (proper) course, the whole world is thrown into great confusion.
How do I know that the case is so? The knowledge shown in the (making of) bows, cross-bows, hand-nets, stringed arrows, and contrivances with springs is great, but the birds are troubled by them above; the knowledge shown in the hooks, baits, various kinds of nets, and bamboo traps is great, but the fishes are disturbed by them in the waters; the knowledge shown in the arrangements for setting nets, and the nets and snares themselves, is great, but the animals are disturbed by them in the marshy grounds. (So), the versatility shown in artful deceptions becoming more and more pernicious, in ingenious discussions as to what is hard and what is white, and in attempts to disperse the dust and reconcile different views, is great, but the common people are perplexed by all the sophistry. Hence there is great disorder continually in the world, and the guilt of it is due to that fondness for knowledge. Thus it is that all men know to seek for the knowledge that they have not attained to; and do not know to seek for that which they already have (in themselves); and that they know to condemn what they do not approve (in others), and do not know to condemn what they have allowed in themselves;—it is this which occasions the great confusion and disorder. It is just as if, above, the brightness of the sun and moon were darkened; as if, beneath, the productive vigour of the hills and streams were dried up; and as if, between, the operation of the four seasons were brought to an end:—in which case there would not be a single weak and wriggling insect, nor any plant that grows up, which would not lose its proper nature. Great indeed is the disorder produced in the world by the love of knowledge. From the time of the three dynasties downwards it has been so. The plain and honest-minded people are neglected, and the plausible representations of restless spirits received with pleasure; the quiet and unexciting method of non-action is put away, and pleasure taken in ideas garrulously expressed. It is this garrulity of speech which puts the world in disorder.
Part II. Section IV.
Ȝâi Yû, or ‘Letting Be, and Exercising Forbearance1 .’
1. I have heard of letting the world be, and exercising forbearance; I have not heard of governing the world. Letting be is from the fear that men, (when interfered with), will carry their nature beyond its normal condition; exercising forbearance is from the fear that men, (when not so dealt with), will alter the characteristics of their nature. When all men do not carry their nature beyond its normal condition, nor alter its characteristics, the good government of the world is secured.
Formerly, Yâo’s government of the world made men look joyful; but when they have this joy in their nature, there is a want of its (proper) placidity. The government of the world by Kieh, (on the contrary), made men look distressed; but when their nature shows the symptoms of distress, there is a want of its (proper) contentment. The want of placidity and the want of contentment are contrary to the character (of the nature); and where this obtains, it is impossible that any man or state should anywhere abide long. Are men exceedingly joyful?—the Yang or element of expansion in them is too much developed. Are they exceedingly irritated?—the Yin or opposite element is too much developed. When those elements thus predominate in men, (it is as if1 ) the four seasons were not to come (at their proper times), and the harmony of cold and heat were not to be maintained;—would there not result injury to the bodies of men? Men’s joy and dissatisfaction are made to arise where they ought not to do so; their movements are all uncertain; they lose the mastery of their thoughts; they stop short midway, and do not finish what they have begun. In this state of things the world begins to have lofty aims, and jealous dislikes, ambitious courses, and fierce animosities, and then we have actions like those of the robber Kih, or of Ȝăng (Shăn) and Shih (Ȝhiû)2 . If now the whole world were taken to reward the good it would not suffice, nor would it be possible with it to punish the bad. Thus the world, great as it is, not sufficing for rewards and punishments, from the time of the three dynasties downwards, there has been nothing but bustle and excitement. Always occupied with rewards and punishments, what leisure have men had to rest in the instincts of the nature with which they are endowed?
2. Moreover, delight in the power of vision leads to excess in the pursuit of (ornamental) colours; delight in the power of hearing, to excess in seeking (the pleasures of) sound; delight in benevolence tends to disorder that virtue (as proper to the nature); delight in righteousness sets the man in opposition to what is right in reason; delight in (the practice of) ceremonies is helpful to artful forms; delight in music leads to voluptuous airs; delight in sageness is helpful to ingenious contrivances; delight in knowledge contributes to fault-finding. If all men were to rest in the instincts of their nature, to keep or to extinguish these eight delights might be a matter of indifference; but if they will not rest in those instincts, then those eight delights begin to be imperfectly and unevenly developed or violently suppressed, and the world is thrown into disorder. But when men begin to honour them, and to long for them, how great is the deception practised on the world! And not only, when (a performance of them) is once over, do they not have done with them, but they prepare themselves (as) with fasting to describe them, they seem to kneel reverentially when they bring them forward, and they go through them with the excitements of music and singing; and then what can be done (to remedy the evil of them)? Therefore the superior man, who feels himself constrained to engage in the administration of the world will find it his best way to do nothing1 . In (that policy of) doing nothing, he can rest in the instincts of the nature with which he is endowed. Hence he who will administer (the government of) the world honouring it as he honours his own person, may have that government committed to him, and he who will administer it loving it as he loves his own person, may have it entrusted to him1 . Therefore, if the superior man will keep (the faculties lodged in) his five viscera unemployed, and not display his powers of seeing and hearing, while he is motionless as a representative of the dead, his dragon-like presence will be seen; while he is profoundly silent, the thunder (of his words) will resound; while his movements are (unseen) like those of a spirit, all heavenly influences will follow them; while he is (thus) unconcerned and does nothing, his genial influence will attract and gather all things round him:—what leisure has he to do anything more for the government of the world?
3. Ȝhui Khü2 asked Lâo Tan, saying, ‘If you do not govern the world, how can you make men’s minds good?’ The reply was, ‘Take care how you meddle with and disturb men’s minds. The mind, if pushed about, gets depressed; if helped forward, it gets exalted. Now exalted, now depressed, here it appears as a prisoner, and there as a wrathful fury. (At one time) it becomes pliable and soft, yielding to what is hard and strong; (at another), it is sharp as the sharpest corner, fit to carve or chisel (stone or jade). Now it is hot as a scorching fire, and anon it is cold as ice. It is so swift that while one is bending down and lifting up his head, it shall twice have put forth a soothing hand beyond the four seas. Resting, it is still as a deep abyss; moving, it is like one of the bodies in the sky; in its resolute haughtiness, it refuses to be bound;—such is the mind of man1 !’
Anciently, Hwang-Tî was the first to meddle with and disturb the mind of man with his benevolence and righteousness2 . After him, Yâo and Shun wore their thighs bare and the hair off the calves of their legs, in their labours to nourish the bodies of the people. They toiled painfully with all the powers in their five viscera at the practice of their benevolence and righteousness; they tasked their blood and breath to make out a code of laws;—and after all they were unsuccessful. On this Yâo sent away Hwan Tâu to Khung hill, and (the Chiefs of) the Three Miâo to San-wei, and banished the Minister of Works to the Dark Capital; so unequal had they been to cope with the world3 . Then we are carried on to the kings of the Three (dynasties), when the world was in a state of great distraction. Of the lowest type of character there were Kieh and Kih; of a higher type there were Ȝăng (Shăn) and Shih (Ȝhiû). At the same time there arose the classes of the Literati and the Mohists. Hereupon, complacency in, and hatred of, one another produced mutual suspicions; the stupid and the wise imposed on one another; the good and the bad condemned one another; the boastful and the sincere interchanged their recriminations;—and the world fell into decay. Views as to what was greatly virtuous did not agree, and the nature with its endowments became as if shrivelled by fire or carried away by a flood. All were eager for knowledge, and the people were exhausted with their searchings (after what was good). On this the axe and the saw were brought into play; guilt was determined as by the plumb-line and death inflicted; the hammer and gouge did their work. The world fell into great disorder, and presented the appearance of a jagged mountain ridge. The crime to which all was due was the meddling with and disturbing men’s minds. The effect was that men of ability and worth lay concealed at the foot of the crags of mount Thâi, and princes of ten thousand chariots were anxious and terrified in their ancestral temples. In the present age those who have been put to death in various ways lie thick as if pillowed on each other; those who are wearing the cangue press on each other (on the roads); those who are suffering the bastinado can see each other (all over the land). And now the Literati and the Mohists begin to stand, on tiptoe and with bare arms, among the fettered and manacled crowd! Ah! extreme is their shamelessness, and their failure to see the disgrace! Strange that we should be slow to recognise their sageness and wisdom in the bars of the cangue, and their benevolence and righteousness in the rivets of the fetters and handcuffs! How do we know that Ȝăng and Shih are not the whizzing arrows of Kieh and Kih1 ? Therefore it is said, ‘Abolish sageness and cast away knowledge, and the world will be brought to a state of great order2 .’
4. Hwang-Tî had been on the throne for nineteen years3 , and his ordinances were in operation all through the kingdom, when he heard that Kwang Khăng-ȝze4 was living on the summit of Khung-thung5 , and went to see him. ‘I have heard,’ he said, ‘that you, Sir, are well acquainted with the perfect Tâo. I venture to ask you what is the essential thing in it. I wish to take the subtlest influences of heaven and earth, and assist with them the (growth of the) five cereals for the (better) nourishment of the people. I also wish to direct the (operation of the) Yin and Yang, so as to secure the comfort of all living beings. How shall I proceed to accomplish those objects?’ Kwang Khăng-ȝze replied, ‘What you wish to ask about is the original substance of all things6 ; what you wish to have the direction of is that substance as it was shattered and divided1 . According to your government of the world, the vapours of the clouds, before they were collected, would descend in rain; the herbs and trees would shed their leaves before they became yellow; and the light of the sun and moon would hasten to extinction. Your mind is that of a flatterer with his plausible words;—it is not fit that I should tell you the perfect Tâo.’
Hwang-Tî withdrew, gave up (his government of) the kingdom, built himself a solitary apartment, spread in it a mat of the white mâo grass, dwelt in it unoccupied for three months, and then went again to seek an interview with (the recluse). Kwang Khăng-ȝze was then lying down with his head to the south. Hwang-Tî, with an air of deferential submission, went forward on his knees, twice bowed low with his face to the ground, and asked him, saying, ‘I have heard that you, Sir, are well acquainted with the perfect Tâo;—I venture to ask how I should rule my body, in order that it may continue for a long time.’ Kwang Khăng-ȝze hastily rose, and said, ‘A good question! Come and I will tell you the perfect Tâo. Its essence is (surrounded with) the deepest obscurity; its highest reach is in darkness and silence. There is nothing to be seen; nothing to be heard. When it holds the spirit in its arms in stillness, then the bodily form of itself will become correct. You must be still; you must be pure; not subjecting your body to toil, not agitating your vital force;—then you may live for long. When your eyes see nothing, your ears hear nothing, and your mind knows nothing, your spirit will keep your body, and the body will live long. Watch over what is within you, shut up the avenues that connect you with what is external;—much knowledge is pernicious. I (will) proceed with you to the summit of the Grand Brilliance, where we come to the source of the bright and expanding (element); I will enter with you the gate of the Deepest Obscurity, where we come to the source of the dark and repressing (element). There heaven and earth have their controllers; there the Yin and Yang have their Repositories. Watch over and keep your body, and all things will of themselves give it vigour. I maintain the (original) unity (of these elements), and dwell in the harmony of them. In this way I have cultivated myself for one thousand and two hundred years, and my bodily form has undergone no decay1 .’
Hwang-Tî twice bowed low with his head to the ground, and said, ‘In Kwang Khăng-ȝze we have an example of what is called Heaven2 .’ The other said, ‘Come, and I will tell you:—(The perfect Tâo) is something inexhaustible, and yet men all think it has an end; it is something unfathomable, and yet men all think its extreme limit can be reached. He who attains to my Tâo, if he be in a high position, will be one of the August ones, and in a low position, will be a king. He who fails in attaining it, in his highest attainment will see the light, but will descend and be of the Earth. At present all things are produced from the Earth and return to the Earth. Therefore I will leave you, and enter the gate of the Unending, to enjoy myself in the fields of the Illimitable. I will blend my light with that of the sun and moon, and will endure while heaven and earth endure. If men agree with my views, I will be unconscious of it; if they keep far apart from them, I will be unconscious of it; they may all die, and I will abide alone1 !’
5. Yün Kiang2 , rambling to the east, having been borne along on a gentle breeze3 , suddenly encountered Hung Mung , who was rambling about, slapping his buttocks4 and hopping like a bird. Amazed at the sight, Yün Kiang stood reverentially, and said to the other, ‘Venerable Sir, who are you? and why are you doing this?’ Hung Mung went on slapping his buttocks and hopping like a bird, but replied, ‘I am enjoying myself.’ Yün Kiang said, ‘I wish to ask you a question.’ Hung Mung lifted up his head, looked at the stranger, and said, ‘Pooh!’ Yün Kiang, however, continued, ‘The breath of heaven is out of harmony; the breath of earth is bound up; the six elemental influences1 do not act in concord; the four seasons do not observe their proper times. Now I wish to blend together the essential qualities of those six influences in order to nourish all living things;—how shall I go about it?’ Hung Mung slapped his buttocks, hopped about, and shook his head, saying, ‘I do not know; I do not know!’
Yün Kiang could not pursue his question; but three years afterwards, when (again) rambling in the east, as he was passing by the wild of Sung, he happened to meet Hung Mung. Delighted with the rencontre, he hastened to him, and said, ‘Have you forgotten me, O Heaven? Have you forgotten me, O Heaven2 ?’ At the same time, he bowed twice with his head to the ground, wishing to receive his instructions. Hung Mung said, ‘Wandering listlessly about, I know not what I seek; carried on by a wild impulse, I know not where I am going. I wander about in the strange manner (which you have seen), and see that nothing proceeds without method and order3 ;—what more should I know?’ Yün Kiang replied, ‘I also seem carried on by an aimless influence, and yet the people follow me wherever I go. I cannot help their doing so. But now as they thus imitate me, I wish to hear a word from you (in the case).’ The other said, ‘What disturbs the regular method of Heaven, comes into collision with the nature of things, prevents the accomplishment of the mysterious (operation of) Heaven, scatters the herds of animals, makes the birds all sing at night, is calamitous to vegetation, and disastrous to all insects;—all this is owing, I conceive, to the error of governing men.’ ‘What then,’ said Yün Kiang, ‘shall I do?’ ‘Ah,’ said the other, ‘you will only injure them! I will leave you in my dancing way, and return to my place.’ Yün Kiang rejoined, ‘It has been a difficult thing to get this meeting with you, O Heaven! I should like to hear from you a word (more).’ Hung Mung said, ‘Ah! your mind (needs to be) nourished. Do you only take the position of doing nothing, and things will of themselves become transformed. Neglect your body; cast out from you your power of hearing and sight; forget what you have in common with things; cultivate a grand similarity with the chaos of the plastic ether; unloose your mind; set your spirit free; be still as if you had no soul. Of all the multitude of things every one returns to its root. Every one returns to its root, and does not know (that it is doing so). They all are as in the state of chaos, and during all their existence they do not leave it1 . If they knew (that they were returning to their root), they would be (consciously) leaving it. They do not ask its name; they do not seek to spy out their nature; and thus it is that things come to life of themselves.’
Yün Kiang said, ‘Heaven, you have conferred on me (the knowledge of) your operation, and revealed to me the mystery of it. All my life I had been seeking for it, and now I have obtained it.’ He then bowed twice, with his head to the ground, arose, took his leave, and walked away.
6. The ordinary men of the world1 all rejoice in men’s agreeing with themselves, and dislike men’s being different from themselves. This rejoicing and this dislike arise from their being bent on making themselves distinguished above all others. But have they who have this object at heart so risen out above all others? They depend on them to rest quietly (in the position which they desire), and their knowledge is not equal to the multitude of the arts of all those others2 ! When they wish again to administer a state for its ruler, they proceed to employ all the methods which the kings of the three dynasties considered profitable without seeing the evils of such a course. This is to make the state depend on the peradventure of their luck. But how seldom it is that that peradventure does not issue in the ruin of the state! Not once in ten thousand instances will such men preserve a state. Not once will they succeed, and in more than ten thousand cases will they ruin it. Alas that the possessors of territory,—(the rulers of states),—should not know the danger (of employing such men)! Now the possessors of territory possess the greatest of (all) things. Possessing the greatest of all things,—(possessing, that is, men),—they should not try to deal with them as (simply) things. And it is he who is not a thing (himself) that is therefore able to deal with (all) things as they severally require. When (a ruler) clearly understands that he who should so deal with all things is not a thing himself, will he only rule the kingdom? He will go out and in throughout the universe (at his pleasure); he will roam over the nine regions1 , alone in going, alone in coming. Him we call the sole possessor (of this ability); and the sole possessor (of this ability) is what is called the noblest of all.
The teaching of (this) great man goes forth as the shadow from the substance, as the echo responds to the sound. When questioned, he responds, exhausting (from his own stores) all that is in the (enquirer’s) mind, as if front to front with all under heaven. His resting-place gives forth no sound; his sphere of activity has no restriction of place. He conducts every one to his proper goal, proceeding to it and bringing him back to it as by his own movement. His movements have no trace; his going forth and his re-enterings have no deviation; his course is like that of the sun without beginning (or ending).
If you would praise or discourse about his personality, he is united with the great community of existences. He belongs to that great community, and has no individual self. Having no individual self, how should he have anything that can be called his? If you look at those who have what they call their own, they are the superior men of former times; if you look at him who has nothing of the kind, he is the friend of heaven and earth.
7. Mean, and yet demanding to be allowed their free course;—such are Things. Low, and yet requiring to be relied on;—such are the People. Hidden (as to their issues), and yet requiring to be done;—such are Affairs. Coarse, and yet necessary to be set forth;—such are Laws. Remote, and yet necessary to have dwelling (in one’s self);—such is Righteousness. Near, and yet necessary to be widely extended;—such is Benevolence. Restrictive, and yet necessary to be multiplied;—such are Ceremonies. Lodged in the centre, and yet requiring to be exalted;—such is Virtue. Always One, and yet requiring to be modified;—such is the Tâo. Spirit-like, and yet requiring to be exercised;—such is Heaven1 .
Therefore the sages contemplated Heaven, but did not assist It. They tried to perfect their virtue, but did not allow it to embarrass them. They proceeded according to the Tâo, but did not lay any plans. They associated benevolence (with all their doings), but did not rely on it. They pursued righteousness extensively, but did not try to accumulate it. They responded to ceremonies, but did not conceal (their opinion as to the troublesomeness of them). They engaged in affairs as they occurred, and did not decline them. They strove to render their laws uniform, but (feared that confusion) might arise from them. They relied upon the people, and did not set light by them. They depended on things as their instruments, and did not discard them1 .
They did not think things equal to what they employed them for, but yet they did not see that they could do without employing them. Those who do not understand Heaven are not pure in their virtue. Those who do not comprehend the Tâo have no course which they can pursue successfully. Alas for them who do not clearly understand the Tâo!
What is it that we call the Tâo2 ? There is the Tâo, or Way of Heaven; and there is the Tâo, or Way of Man. Doing nothing and yet attracting all honour is the Way of Heaven; Doing and being embarrassed thereby is the Way of Man. It is the Way of Heaven that plays the part of the Lord; it is the Way of Man that plays the part of the Servant. The Way of Heaven and the Way of Man are far apart. They should be clearly distinguished from each other.
Part II. Section V.
Thien Tî, or ‘Heaven and Earth1 .’
1. Notwithstanding the greatness of heaven and earth, their transforming power proceeds from one lathe; notwithstanding the number of the myriad things, the government of them is one and the same; notwithstanding the multitude of mankind, the lord of them is their (one) ruler2 . The ruler’s (course) should proceed from the qualities (of the Tâo) and be perfected by Heaven3 , when it is so, it is called ‘Mysterious and Sublime.’ The ancients ruled the world by doing nothing;—simply by this attribute of Heaven4 .
If we look at their words5 in the light of the Tâo, (we see that) the appellation for the ruler of the world1 was correctly assigned; if we look in the same light at the distinctions which they instituted, (we see that) the separation of ruler and ministers was right; if we look at the abilities which they called forth in the same light, (we see that the duties of) all the offices were well performed; and if we look generally in the same way at all things, (we see that) their response (to this rule) was complete2 . Therefore that which pervades (the action of) Heaven and Earth is (this one) attribute; that which operates in all things is (this one) course; that by which their superiors govern the people is the business (of the various departments); and that by which aptitude is given to ability is skill. The skill was manifested in all the (departments of) business; those departments were all administered in righteousness; the righteousness was (the outflow of) the natural virtue; the virtue was manifested according to the Tâo; and the Tâo was according to (the pattern of) Heaven.
Hence it is said3 , ‘The ancients who had the nourishment of the world wished for nothing and the world had enough; they did nothing and all things were transformed; their stillness was abysmal, and the people were all composed.’ The Record says4 , ‘When the one (Tâo) pervades it, all business is completed. When the mind gets to be free from all aim, even the Spirits submit.’
2. The Master said1 , ‘It is the Tâo that overspreads and sustains all things. How great It is in Its overflowing influence! The Superior man ought by all means to remove from his mind (all that is contrary to It). Acting without action is what is called Heaven(-like). Speech coming forth of itself is what is called (a mark of) the (true) Virtue. Loving men and benefiting things is what is called Benevolence. Seeing wherein things that are different yet agree is what is called being Great. Conduct free from the ambition of being distinguished above others is what is called being Generous. The possession in himself of a myriad points of difference is what is called being Rich. Therefore to hold fast the natural attributes is what is called the Guiding Line (of government)2 ; the perfecting of those attributes is what is called its Establishment; accordance with the Tâo is what is called being Complete; and not allowing anything external to affect the will is what is called being Perfect. When the Superior man understands these ten things, he keeps all matters as it were sheathed in himself, showing the greatness of his mind; and through the outflow of his doings, all things move (and come to him). Being such, he lets the gold lie hid in the hill, and the pearls in the deep; he considers not property or money to be any gain; he keeps aloof from riches and honours; he rejoices not in long life, and grieves not for early death; he does not account prosperity a glory, nor is ashamed of indigence; he would not grasp at the gain of the whole world to be held as his own private portion; he would not desire to rule over the whole world as his own private distinction. His distinction is in understanding that all things belong to the one treasury, and that death and life should be viewed in the same way1 .’
3. The Master said, ‘How still and deep is the place where the Tâo resides! How limpid is its purity! Metal and stone without It would give forth no sound. They have indeed the (power of) sound (in them), but if they be not struck, they do not emit it. Who can determine (the qualities that are in) all things?
‘The man of kingly qualities holds on his way unoccupied, and is ashamed to busy himself with (the conduct of) affairs. He establishes himself in (what is) the root and source (of his capacity), and his wisdom grows to be spirit-like. In this way his attributes become more and more great, and when his mind goes forth, whatever things come in his way, it lays hold of them (and deals with them). Thus, if there were not the Tâo, the bodily form would not have life, and its life, without the attributes (of the Tâo), would not be manifested. Is not he who preserves the body and gives the fullest development to the life, who establishes the attributes of the Tâo and clearly displays It, possessed of kingly qualities? How majestic is he in his sudden issuings forth, and in his unexpected movements, when all things follow him!—This we call the man whose qualities fit him to rule.
‘He sees where there is the deepest obscurity; he hears where there is no sound. In the midst of the deepest obscurity, he alone sees and can distinguish (various objects); in the midst of a soundless (abyss), he alone can hear a harmony (of notes). Therefore where one deep is succeeded by a greater, he can people all with things; where one mysterious range is followed by another that is more so, he can lay hold of the subtlest character of each. In this way in his intercourse with all things, while he is farthest from having anything, he can yet give to them what they seek; while he is always hurrying forth, he yet returns to his resting-place; now large, now small; now long, now short; now distant, now near1 .’
4. Hwang-Tî, enjoying himself on the north of the Red-water, ascended to the height of the Khwăn-lun (mountain), and having looked towards the south, was returning home, when he lost his dark-coloured pearl2 . He employed Wisdom to search for it, but he could not find it. He employed (the clear-sighted) Lî Kû to search for it, but he could not find it. He employed (the vehement debater) Khieh Khâu1 to search for it, but he could not find it. He then employed Purposeless , who found it; on which Hwang-Tî said, ‘How strange that it was Purposeless who was able to find it!’
5. The teacher of Yâo was Hsü Yû2 ; of Hsü Yû, Nieh Khüeh ; of Nieh Khüeh, Wang Î ; of Wang Î, Pheî-î . Yâo asked Hsü Yû, saying, ‘Is Nieh Khüeh fit to be the correlate of Heaven3 ? (If you think he is), I will avail myself of the services of Wang Î to constrain him (to take my place).’ Hsü Yû replied, ‘Such a measure would be hazardous, and full of peril to the kingdom! The character of Nieh Khüeh is this;—he is acute, perspicacious, shrewd and knowing, ready in reply, sharp in retort, and hasty; his natural (endowments) surpass those of other men, but by his human qualities he seeks to obtain the Heavenly gift; he exercises his discrimination in suppressing his errors, but he does not know what is the source from which his errors arise. Make him the correlate of Heaven! He would employ the human qualities, so that no regard would be paid to the Heavenly gift. Moreover, he would assign different functions to the different parts of the one person4 . Moreover, honour would be given to knowledge, and he would have his plans take effect with the speed of fire. Moreover, he would be the slave of everything he initiated. Moreover, he would be embarrassed by things. Moreover, he would be looking all round for the response of things (to his measures). Moreover, he would be responding to the opinion of the multitude as to what was right. Moreover, he would be changing as things changed, and would not begin to have any principle of constancy. How can such a man be fit to be the correlate of Heaven? Nevertheless, as there are the smaller branches of a family and the common ancestor of all its branches, he might be the father of a branch, but not the father of the fathers of all the branches1 . Such government (as he would conduct) would lead to disorder. It would be calamity in one in the position of a minister, and ruin if he were in the position of the sovereign.’
6. Yâo was looking about him at Hwâ2 , the border-warden of which said, ‘Ha! the sage! Let me ask blessings on the sage! May he live long!’ Yâo said, ‘Hush!’ but the other went on, ‘May the sage become rich!’ Yâo (again) said, ‘Hush!’ but (the warden) continued, ‘May the sage have many sons!’ When Yâo repeated his ‘Hush,’ the warden said, ‘Long life, riches, and many sons are what men wish for;—how is it that you alone do not wish for them?’ Yâo replied, ‘Many sons bring many fears; riches bring many troubles; and long life gives rise to many obloquies. These three things do not help to nourish virtue; and therefore I wish to decline them.’ The warden rejoined, ‘At first I considered you to be a sage; now I see in you only a Superior man. Heaven, in producing the myriads of the people, is sure to have appointed for them their several offices. If you had many sons, and gave them (all their) offices, what would you have to fear? If you had riches, and made other men share them with you, what trouble would you have? The sage finds his dwelling like the quail (without any choice of its own), and is fed like the fledgling; he is like the bird which passes on (through the air), and leaves no trace (of its flight). When good order prevails in the world, he shares in the general prosperity. When there is no such order, he cultivates his virtue, and seeks to be unoccupied. After a thousand years, tired of the world, he leaves it, and ascends among the immortals. He mounts on the white clouds, and arrives at the place of God. The three forms of evil do not reach him, his person is always free from misfortune;—what obloquy has he to incur?’
With this the border-warden left him. Yâo followed him, saying, ‘I beg to ask—;’ but the other said, ‘Begone!’
7. When Yâo was ruling the world, Po-khăng Ȝze-kâo1 was appointed by him prince of one of the states. From Yâo (afterwards) the throne passed to Shun, and from Shun (again) to Yü; and (then) Po-khăng Ȝze-kâo resigned his principality and began to cultivate the ground. Yü went to see him, and found him ploughing in the open country. Hurrying to him, and bowing low in acknowledgment of his superiority, Yü then stood up, and asked him, saying, ‘Formerly, when Yâo was ruling the world, you, Sir, were appointed prince of a state. He gave his sovereignty to Shun, and Shun gave his to me, when you, Sir, resigned your dignity, and are (now) ploughing (here);—I venture to ask the reason of your conduct.’ Ȝze-kâo said, ‘When Yâo ruled the world, the people stimulated one another (to what was right) without his offering them rewards, and stood in awe (of doing wrong) without his threatening them with punishments. Now you employ both rewards and punishments, and the people notwithstanding are not good. Their virtue will from this time decay; punishments will from this time prevail; the disorder of future ages will from this time begin. Why do you, my master, not go away, and not interrupt my work?’ With this he resumed his ploughing with his head bent down, and did not (again) look round.
8. In the Grand Beginning (of all things) there was nothing in all the vacancy of space; there was nothing that could be named2 . It was in this state that there arose the first existence1 ;—the first existence, but still without bodily shape. From this things could then be produced, (receiving) what we call their proper character2 . That which had no bodily shape was divided3 ; and then without intermission there was what we call the process of conferring4 . (The two processes) continuing in operation, things were produced. As things were completed, there were produced the distinguishing lines of each, which we call the bodily shape. That shape was the body preserving in it the spirit5 , and each had its peculiar manifestation, which we call its Nature. When the Nature has been cultivated, it returns to its proper character; and when that has been fully reached, there is the same condition as at the Beginning. That sameness is pure vacancy, and the vacancy is great. It is like the closing of the beak and silencing the singing (of a bird). That closing and silencing is like the union of heaven and earth (at the beginning)6 . The union, effected, as it is, might seem to indicate stupidity or darkness, but it is what we call the ‘mysterious quality’ (existing at the beginning); it is the same as the Grand Submission (to the Natural Course).
9. The Master1 asked Lâo Tan, saying, ‘Some men regulate the Tâo (as by a law), which they have only to follow;—(a thing, they say,) is admissible or it is inadmissible; it is so, or it is not so. (They are like) the sophists who say that they can distinguish what is hard and what is white as clearly as if the objects were houses suspended in the sky. Can such men be said to be sages2 ?’ The reply was, ‘They are like the busy underlings of a court, who toil their bodies and distress their minds with their various artifices;—dogs, (employed) to their sorrow to catch the yak, or monkeys3 that are brought from their forests (for their tricksiness). Khiû, I tell you this;—it is what you cannot hear, and what you cannot speak of:—Of those who have their heads and feet, and yet have neither minds nor ears, there are multitudes; while of those who have their bodies, and at the same time preserve that which has no bodily form or shape, there are really none. It is not in their movements or stoppages, their dying or living, their falling and rising again, that this is to be found. The regulation of the course lies in (their dealing with) the human element in them. When they have forgotten external things, and have also forgotten the heavenly element in them, they may be named men who have forgotten themselves. The man who has forgotten himself is he of whom it is said that he has become identified with Heaven1 .’
10. At an interview with Kî Khêh2 , Kiang-lü Mien said to him, ‘Our ruler of Lû asked to receive my instructions. I declined, on the ground that I had not received any message3 for him. Afterwards, however, I told him (my thoughts). I do not know whether (what I said) was right or not, and I beg to repeat it to you. I said to him, “You must strive to be courteous and to exercise self-restraint; you must distinguish the public-spirited and loyal, and repress the cringing and selfish;—who among the people will in that case dare not to be in harmony with you?” ’ Kî Khêh laughed quietly and said, ‘Your words, my master, as a description of the right course for a Tî or King, were like the threatening movement of its arms by a mantis which would thereby stop the advance of a carriage;—inadequate to accomplish your object. And moreover, if he guided himself by your directions, it would be as if he were to increase the dangerous height of his towers and add to the number of his valuables collected in them;—the multitudes (of the people) would leave their (old) ways, and bend their steps in the same direction.’
Kiang-lü Mien was awe-struck, and said in his fright, ‘I am startled by your words, Master, nevertheless, I should like to hear you describe the influence (which a ruler should exert).’ The other said, ‘If a great sage ruled the kingdom, he would stimulate the minds of the people, and cause them to carry out his instructions fully, and change their manners; he would take their minds which had become evil and violent and extinguish them, carrying them all forward to act in accordance with the (good) will belonging to them as individuals, as if they did it of themselves from their nature, while they knew not what it was that made them do so. Would such an one be willing to look up to Yâo and Shun in their instruction of the people as his elder brothers? He would treat them as his juniors, belonging himself to the period of the original plastic ether1 . His wish would be that all should agree with the virtue (of that early period), and quietly rest in it.’
11. Ȝze-kung had been rambling in the south in Khû, and was returning to Ȝin. As he passed (a place) on the north of the Han, he saw an old man who was going to work on his vegetable garden. He had dug his channels, gone to the well, and was bringing from it in his arms a jar of water to pour into them. Toiling away, he expended a great deal of strength, but the result which he accomplished was very small. Ȝze-kung said to him, ‘There is a contrivance here, by means of which a hundred plots of ground may be irrigated in one day. With the expenditure of a very little strength, the result accomplished is great. Would you, Master, not like (to try it)?’ The gardener looked up at him, and said, ‘How does it work?’ Ȝze-kung said, ‘It is a lever made of wood, heavy behind, and light in front. It raises the water as quickly as you could do with your hand, or as it bubbles over from a boiler. Its name is a shadoof.’ The gardener put on an angry look, laughed, and said, ‘I have heard from my teacher that, where there are ingenious contrivances, there are sure to be subtle doings; and that, where there are subtle doings, there is sure to be a scheming mind. But, when there is a scheming mind in the breast, its pure simplicity is impaired. When this pure simplicity is impaired, the spirit becomes unsettled, and the unsettled spirit is not the proper residence of the Tâo. It is not that I do not know (the contrivance which you mention), but I should be ashamed to use it.’
(At these words) Ȝze-kung looked blank and ashamed; he hung down his head, and made no reply. After an interval, the gardener said to him, ‘Who are you, Sir?’ ‘A disciple of Khung Khiû,’ was the reply. The other continued, ‘Are you not the scholar whose great learning makes you comparable to a sage, who make it your boast that you surpass all others, who sing melancholy ditties all by yourself, thus purchasing a famous reputation throughout the kingdom? If you would (only) forget the energy of your spirit, and neglect the care of your body, you might approximate (to the Tâo). But while you cannot regulate yourself, what leisure have you to be regulating the world? Go on your way, Sir, and do not interrupt my work.’
Ȝze-kung shrunk back abashed, and turned pale. He was perturbed, and lost his self-possession, nor did he recover it, till he had walked a distance of thirty lî. His disciples then said, ‘Who was that man? Why, Master, when you saw him, did you change your bearing, and become pale, so that you have been all day without returning to yourself?’ He replied to them, ‘Formerly I thought that there was but one man1 in the world, and did not know that there was this man. I have heard the Master say that to seek for the means of conducting his undertakings so that his success in carrying them out may be complete, and how by the employment of a little strength great results may be obtained, is the way of the sage. Now (I perceive that) it is not so at all. They who hold fast and cleave to the Tâo are complete in the qualities belonging to it. Complete in those qualities, they are complete in their bodies. Complete in their bodies, they are complete in their spirits. To be complete in spirit is the way of the sage. (Such men) live in the world in closest union with the people, going along with them, but they do not know where they are going. Vast and complete is their simplicity! Success, gain, and ingenious contrivances, and artful cleverness, indicate (in their opinion) a forgetfulness of the (proper) mind of man. These men will not go where their mind does not carry them, and will do nothing of which their mind does not approve. Though all the world should praise them, they would (only) get what they think should be loftily disregarded; and though all the world should blame them, they would but lose (what they think) fortuitous and not to be received;—the world’s blame and praise can do them neither benefit nor injury. Such men may be described as possessing all the attributes (of the Tâo), while I can only be called one of those who are like the waves carried about by the wind.’ When he returned to Lû, (Ȝze-kung) reported the interview and conversation to Confucius, who said, ‘The man makes a pretence of cultivating the arts of the Embryonic Age1 . He knows the first thing, but not the sequel to it. He regulates what is internal in himself, but not what is external to himself. If he had intelligence enough to be entirely unsophisticated, and by doing nothing to seek to return to the normal simplicity, embodying (the instincts of) his nature, and keeping his spirit (as it were) in his arms, so enjoying himself in the common ways, you might then indeed be afraid of him! But what should you and I find in the arts of the embryonic time, worth our knowing?’
12.Kun Mâng2 , on his way to the ocean, met with Yüan Fung on the shore of the eastern sea, and was asked by him where he was going. ‘I am going,’ he replied, ‘to the ocean;’ and the other again asked, ‘What for?’ Kun Mâng said, ‘Such is the nature of the ocean that the waters which flow into it can never fill it, nor those which flow from it exhaust it. I will enjoy myself, rambling by it.’ Yüan Fung replied, ‘Have you no thoughts about mankind1 ? I should like to hear from you about sagely government.’ Kun Mâng said, ‘Under the government of sages, all offices are distributed according to the fitness of their nature; all appointments are made according to the ability of the men; whatever is done is after a complete survey of all circumstances; actions and words proceed from the inner impulse, and the whole world is transformed. Wherever their hands are pointed and their looks directed, from all quarters the people are all sure to come (to do what they desire):—this is what is called government by sages.’
‘I should like to hear about (the government of) the kindly, virtuous men2 ,’ (continued Yüan Fung). The reply was, ‘Under the government of the virtuous, when quietly occupying (their place), they have no thought, and, when they act, they have no anxiety; they do not keep stored (in their minds) what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. They share their benefits among all within the four seas, and this produces what is called (the state of) satisfaction; they dispense their gifts to all, and this produces what is called (the state of) rest. (The people) grieve (on their death) like babies who have lost their mothers, and are perplexed like travellers who have lost their way. They have a superabundance of wealth and all necessaries, and they know not whence it comes; they have a sufficiency of food and drink, and they know not from whom they get it:—such are the appearances (under the government) of the kindly and virtuous.’
‘I should like to hear about (the government of) the spirit-like men,’ (continued Yüan Fung once more).
The reply was, ‘Men of the highest spirit-like qualities mount up on the light, and (the limitations of) the body vanish. This we call being bright and ethereal. They carry out to the utmost the powers with which they are endowed, and have not a single attribute unexhausted. Their joy is that of heaven and earth, and all embarrassments of affairs melt away and disappear; all things return to their proper nature:—and this is what is called (the state of) chaotic obscurity1 .’
13. Măn Wû-kwei2 and Khih-kang Man-khî had been looking at the army of king Wû, when the latter said, ‘It is because he was not born in the time of the Lord of Yü3 , that therefore he is involved in this trouble (of war).’ Măn Wû-kwei replied, ‘Was it when the kingdom was in good order, that the Lord of Yü governed it? or was it after it had become disordered that he governed it?’ The other said, ‘That the kingdom be in a condition of good order, is what (all) desire, and (in that case) what necessity would there be to say anything about the Lord of Yü? He had medicine for sores; false hair for the bald; and healing for those who were ill:—he was like the filial son carrying in the medicine to cure his kind father, with every sign of distress in his countenance. A sage would be ashamed (of such a thing)1 .
‘In the age of perfect virtue they attached no value to wisdom, nor employed men of ability. Superiors were (but) as the higher branches of a tree; and the people were like the deer of the wild. They were upright and correct, without knowing that to be so was Righteousness; they loved one another, without knowing that to do so was Benevolence; they were honest and leal-hearted, without knowing that it was Loyalty; they fulfilled their engagements, without knowing that to do so was Good Faith; in their simple movements they employed the services of one another, without thinking that they were conferring or receiving any gift. Therefore their actions left no trace, and there was no record of their affairs.’
14. The filial son who does not flatter his father, and the loyal minister who does not fawn on his ruler, are the highest examples of a minister and a son. When a son assents to all that his father says, and approves of all that his father does, common opinion pronounces him an unworthy son; when a minister assents to all that his ruler says, and approves of all that his ruler does, common opinion pronounces him an unworthy minister. Nor does any one reflect that this view is necessarily correct1 . But when common opinion (itself) affirms anything and men therefore assent to it, or counts anything good and men also approve of it, then it is not said that they are mere consenters and flatterers;—is common opinion then more authoritative than a father, or more to be honoured than a ruler? Tell a man that he is merely following (the opinions) of another, or that he is a flatterer of others, and at once he flushes with anger. And yet all his life he is merely following others, and flattering them. His illustrations are made to agree with theirs; his phrases are glossed:—to win the approbation of the multitudes. From first to last, from beginning to end, he finds no fault with their views. He will let his robes hang down2 , display the colours on them, and arrange his movements and bearing, so as to win the favour of his age, and yet not call himself a flatterer. He is but a follower of those others, approving and disapproving as they do, and yet he will not say that he is one of them. This is the height of stupidity.
He who knows his stupidity is not very stupid; he who knows that he is under a delusion is not greatly deluded. He who is greatly deluded will never shake the delusion off; he who is very stupid will all his life not become intelligent. If three men be walking together, and (only) one of them be under a delusion (as to their way), they may yet reach their goal, the deluded being the fewer; but if two of them be under the delusion, they will not do so, the deluded being the majority. At the present time, when the whole world is under a delusion, though I pray men to go in the right direction, I cannot make them do so;—is it not a sad case?
Grand music does not penetrate the ears of villagers; but if they hear ‘The Breaking of the Willow,’ or ‘The Bright Flowers1 ,’ they will roar with laughter. So it is that lofty words do not remain in the minds of the multitude, and that perfect words are not heard, because the vulgar words predominate. By two earthenware instruments the (music of) a bell will be confused, and the pleasure that it would afford cannot be obtained. At the present time the whole world is under a delusion, and though I wish to go in a certain direction, how can I succeed in doing so? Knowing that I cannot do so, if I were to try to force my way, that would be another delusion. Therefore my best course is to let my purpose go, and no more pursue it. If I do not pursue it, whom shall I have to share in my sorrow2 ?
If an ugly man1 have a son born to him at midnight, he hastens with a light to look at it. Very eagerly he does so, only afraid that it may be like himself.
152 . From a tree a hundred years old a portion shall be cut and fashioned into a sacrificial vase, with the bull figured on it, which is ornamented further with green and yellow, while the rest (of that portion) is cut away and thrown into a ditch. If now we compare the sacrificial vase with what was thrown into the ditch, there will be a difference between them as respects their beauty and ugliness; but they both agree in having lost the (proper) nature of the wood. So in respect of their practice of righteousness there is a difference between (the robber) Kih on the one hand, and Ȝăng (Shăn) or Shih (Ȝhiû) on the other; but they all agree in having lost (the proper qualities of) their nature.
Now there are five things which produce (in men) the loss of their (proper) nature. The first is (their fondness for) the five colours which disorder the eye, and take from it its (proper) clearness of vision; the second is (their fondness for) the five notes (of music), which disorder the ear and take from it its (proper) power of hearing; the third is (their fondness for) the five odours which penetrate the nostrils, and produce a feeling of distress all over the forehead; the fourth is (their fondness for) the five flavours, which deaden the mouth, and pervert its sense of taste; the fifth is their preferences and dislikes, which unsettle the mind, and cause the nature to go flying about. These five things are all injurious to the life; and now Yang and Mo begin to stretch forward from their different standpoints, each thinking that he has hit on (the proper course for men).
But the courses they have hit on are not what I call the proper course. What they have hit on (only) leads to distress;—can they have hit on what is the right thing? If they have, we may say that the dove in a cage has found the right thing for it. Moreover, those preferences and dislikes, that (fondness for) music and colours, serve but to pile up fuel (in their breasts); while their caps of leather, the bonnet with kingfishers’ plumes, the memorandum tablets which they carry, and their long girdles, serve but as restraints on their persons. Thus inwardly stuffed full as a hole for fuel, and outwardly fast bound with cords, when they look quietly round from out of their bondage, and think they have got all they could desire, they are no better than criminals whose arms are tied together, and their fingers subjected to the screw, or than tigers and leopards in sacks or cages, and yet thinking that they have got (all they could wish).
Part II. Section VI.
Thien Tâo, or ‘The Way of Heaven1 .’
1. The Way of Heaven operates (unceasingly), and leaves no accumulation2 (of its influence) in any particular place, so that all things are brought to perfection by it; so does the Way of the Tîs operate, and all under the sky turn to them (as their directors); so also does the Way of the Sages operate, and all within the seas submit to them. Those who clearly understand (the Way of) Heaven, who are in sympathy with (that of) the sages, and familiar through the universe and in the four quarters (of the earth) with the work of the Tîs and the kings, yet act spontaneously from themselves:—with the appearance of being ignorant they are yet entirely still.
The stillness of the sages does not belong to them as a consequence of their skilful ability3 ; all things are not able to disturb their minds;—it is on this account that they are still. When water is still, its clearness shows the beard and eyebrows (of him who looks into it). It is a perfect Level1 , and the greatest artificer takes his rule from it. Such is the clearness of still water, and how much greater is that of the human Spirit! The still mind of the sage is the mirror of heaven and earth, the glass of all things.
Vacancy, stillness, placidity, tastelessness, quietude, silence, and non-action;—this is the Level of heaven and earth, and the perfection of the Tâo and its characteristics2 . Therefore the Tîs, Kings, and Sages found in this their resting-place3 . Resting here, they were vacant; from their vacancy came fullness; from their fullness came the nice distinctions (of things). From their vacancy came stillness; that stillness was followed by movement; their movements were successful. From their stillness came their non-action. Doing-nothing, they devolved the cares of office on their employés. Doing-nothing was accompanied by the feeling of satisfaction. Where there is that feeling of satisfaction, anxieties and troubles find no place; and the years of life are many.
Vacancy, stillness, placidity, tastelessness, quietude, silence, and doing-nothing are the root of all things. When this is understood, we find such a ruler on the throne as Yâo, and such a minister as Shun. When with this a high position is occupied, we find the attributes of the Tîs and kings,—the sons of Heaven; with this in a low position, we find the mysterious sages, the uncrowned kings, with their ways. With this retiring (from public life), and enjoying themselves at leisure, we find the scholars who dwell by the rivers and seas, among the hills and forests, all submissive to it; with this coming forward to active life and comforting their age, their merit is great, and their fame is distinguished;—and all the world becomes united in one.
2. (Such men) by their stillness become sages; and by their movement, kings. Doing-nothing, they are honoured; in their plain simplicity, no one in the world can strive with them (for the palm of) excellence. The clear understanding of the virtue of Heaven and Earth is what is called ‘The Great Root,’ and ‘The Great Origin;’—they who have it are in harmony with Heaven, and so they produce all equable arrangements in the world;—they are those who are in harmony with men. Being in harmony with men is called the Joy of men; being in harmony with Heaven is called the Joy of Heaven. Kwang-ȝze said, ‘My Master! my Master! He shall hash and blend all things in mass without being cruel; he shall dispense his favours to all ages without being benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity, and yet is not old. He overspreads the heavens and sustains the earth; from him is the carving of all forms without any artful skill1 ! This is what is called the Joy of Heaven. Hence it is said, “Those who know the Joy of Heaven during their life, act like Heaven, and at death undergo transformation like (other) things2 ; in their stillness they possess the quality of the Yin, and in their movement they flow abroad as the Yang. Therefore he who knows the Joy of Heaven has no murmuring against Heaven, nor any fault-finding with men; and suffers no embarrassment from things, nor any reproof from ghosts. Hence it is said, ‘His movements are those of Heaven; his stillness is that of Earth; his whole mind is fixed, and he rules over the world. The spirits of his dead do not come to scare him; he is not worn out by their souls. His words proceeding from his vacancy and stillness, yet reach to heaven and earth, and show a communication with all things:—this is what is called the Joy of Heaven. This Joy of Heaven forms the mind of the sage whereby he nurtures all under the sky1 .’ ” ’
3. It was the Way2 of the Tîs and Kings to regard Heaven and Earth as their Author, the Tâo and its characteristics as their Lord, and Doing-nothing as their constant rule. Doing-nothing, they could use the whole world in their service and might have done more; acting, they were not sufficient for the service required of them by the world. Hence the men of old held non-inaction in honour. When superiors do nothing and their inferiors also do nothing, inferiors and superiors possess the same virtue; and when inferiors and superiors possess the same virtue, there are none to act as ministers. When inferiors act, and their superiors also act, then superiors and inferiors possess the same Tâo; and when superiors and inferiors possess the same Tâo, there is none to preside as Lord. But that the superiors do nothing and yet thereby use the world in their service, and that the inferiors, while acting, be employed in the service of the world, is an unchangeable principle. Therefore the ancient kings who presided over the world, though their knowledge embraced (all the operations of) Heaven and Earth, took no thought of their own about them; though their nice discrimination appreciated the fine fashioning of all things, they said not a word about it; though their power comprehended all within the seas, they did nothing themselves. Heaven produces nothing, yet all things experience their transformations; Earth effects no growth, yet all things receive their nurture; the Tîs and Kings did nothing, yet all the world testified their effective services. Hence it is said, ‘There is nothing more spirit-like than Heaven; there is nothing richer than Earth; there are none greater than the Tîs and Kings.’ Hence it is said (further), ‘The attributes of the Tîs and kings corresponded to those of Heaven and Earth.’ It was thus that they availed themselves of (the operations of) Heaven and Earth, carried all things on unceasingly (in their courses), and employed the various classes of men in their service.
4. Originating belongs to those in the higher position; details (of work) to those who are in the lower. The compendious decision belongs to the lord; the minutiae of execution, to his ministers. The direction of the three hosts1 and their men with the five weapons2 is but a trifling quality; rewards and penalties with their advantages and sufferings, and the inflictions of the five punishments1 are but trivial elements of instruction; ceremonies, laws, measures, and numbers, with all the minutiae of jurisprudence2 , are small matters in government; the notes of bells and drums, and the display of plumes and flags are the slightest things in music, and the various grades of the mourning garments are the most unimportant manifestations of grief. These five unimportant adjuncts required the operation of the excited spirit and the employment of the arts of the mind, to bring them into use. The men of old had them indeed, but they did not give them the first place.
The ruler precedes, and the minister follows; the father precedes, and the son follows; the elder brother precedes, and the younger follows; the senior precedes, and the junior follows; the male precedes, and the female follows; the husband precedes, and the wife follows.
This precedence of the more honourable and sequence of the meaner is seen in the (relative) action of heaven and earth, and hence the sages took them as their pattern. The more honourable position of heaven and the lower one of earth are equivalent to a designation of their spirit-like and intelligent qualities. The precedence of spring and summer and the sequence of autumn and winter mark the order of the four seasons. In the transformations and growth of all things, every bud and feature has its proper form; and in this we have their gradual maturing and decay, the constant flow of transformation and change. Thus since Heaven and Earth, which are most spirit-like, are distinguished as more honourable and less, and by precedence and sequence, how much more must we look for this in the ways of men! In the ancestral temple it is to kinship that honour is given; in court, to rank; in the neighbourhoods and districts, to age; in the conduct of affairs, to wisdom; such is the order in those great ways. If we speak of the course (to be pursued in them), and do not observe their order, we violate their course. If we speak of the course, and do not observe it, why do we apply that name to it?
5. Therefore the ancients who clearly understood the great Tâo first sought to apprehend what was meant by Heaven1 , and the Tâo and its characteristics came next. When this was apprehended, then came Benevolence and Righteousness. When these were apprehended, then came the Distinction of duties and the observance of them. This accomplished, there came objects and their names. After objects and their names, came the employment of men according to their qualities: on this there followed the examination of the men and of their work. This led to the approval or disapproval of them, which again was succeeded by the apportioning of rewards and penalties. After this the stupid and the intelligent understood what was required of them, and the honourable and the mean occupied their several positions. The good and the able, and those inferior to them, sincerely did their best. Their ability was distributed; the duties implied in their official names were fulfilled. In this way did they serve their superiors, nourish their inferiors, regulate things, and cultivate their persons. They did not call their knowledge and schemes into requisition; they were required to fall back upon (the method of) Heaven:—this was what is called the Perfection of the Rule of Great Peace. Hence it is said in the Book1 , ‘There are objects and there are their names.’ Objects and their names the ancients had; but they did not put them in the foremost place.
When the ancients spoke of the Great Tâo, it was only after four other steps that they gave a place to ‘Objects and their Names,’ and after eight steps that they gave a place to ‘Rewards and Penalties.’ If they had all at once spoken of ‘Objects and their Names,’ they would have shown an ignorance of what is the Root (of government); if they had all at once spoken of ‘Rewards and Penalties,’ they would have shown an ignorance of the first steps of it. Those whose words are thus an inversion of the (proper) course, or in opposition to it, are (only fit to be) ruled by others;—how can they rule others? To speak all at once of ‘Objects and their Names,’ and of ‘Rewards and Penalties,’ only shows that the speaker knows the instruments of government, but does not know the method of it, is fit to be used as an instrument in the world, but not fit to use others as his instruments:—he is what we call a mere sophist, a man of one small idea. Ceremonies, laws, numbers, measures, with all the minutiae of jurisprudence, the ancients had; but it is by these that inferiors serve their superiors; it is not by them that those superiors nourish the world.
6. Anciently, Shun asked Yâo, saying, ‘In what way does your Majesty by the Grace of Heaven1 exercise your mind?’ The reply was, ‘I simply show no arrogance towards the helpless; I do not neglect the poor people; I grieve for those who die; I love their infant children; and I compassionate their widows.’ Shun rejoined, ‘Admirable, as far as it goes; but it is not what is Great.’ ‘How then,’ asked Yâo, ‘do you think I should do?’ Shun replied, ‘When (a sovereign) possesses the virtue of Heaven, then when he shows himself in action, it is in stillness. The sun and moon (simply) shine, and the four seasons pursue their courses. So it is with the regular phenomena of day and night, and with the movement of the clouds by which the rain is distributed.’ Yâo said, ‘Then I have only been persistently troubling myself! What you wish is to be in harmony with Heaven, while I wish to be in harmony with men.’ Now (the Way of) Heaven and Earth was much thought of of old, and Hwang-Tî, Yâo, and Shun united in admiring it. Hence the kings of the world of old did nothing, but tried to imitate that Way.
7. Confucius went to the west to deposit (some) writings in the library of Kâu2 , when Ȝze-lû counselled him, saying, ‘I have heard that the officer in charge of this Kăng1 Repository of Kâu was one Lâo Tan, who has given up his office, and is living in his own house. As you, Master, wish to deposit these writings here, why not go to him, and obtain his help (to accomplish your object)2 .’ Confucius said, ‘Good;’ and he went and saw Lâo Tan, who refused his assistance. On this he proceeded to give an abstract of the Twelve Classics3 to bring the other over to his views4 . Lâo Tan, however, interrupted him while he was speaking, and said, ‘This is too vague; let me hear the substance of them in brief.’ Confucius said, ‘The substance of them is occupied with Benevolence and Righteousness.’ The other said, ‘Let me ask whether you consider Benevolence and Righteousness to constitute the nature of man?’ ‘I do,’ was the answer. ‘If the superior man be not benevolent, he will not fulfil his character; if he be not righteous, he might as well not have been born. Benevolence and Righteousness are truly the nature of man.’ Lâo Tan continued, ‘Let me ask you what you mean by Benevolence and Righteousness.’ Confucius said, ‘To be in one’s inmost heart in kindly sympathy with all things; to love all men; and to allow no selfish thoughts;—this is the nature of Benevolence and Righteousness.’ Lâo Tan exclaimed, ‘Ah! you almost show your inferiority by such words! “To love all men!” is not that vague and extravagant? “To be seeking to allow no selfish thoughts!”—that is selfishness1 ! If you, Master, wish men not to be without their (proper) shepherding, think of Heaven and Earth, which certainly pursue their invariable course; think of the sun and moon, which surely maintain their brightness; think of the stars in the zodiac, which preserve their order and courses; think of birds and beasts, which do not fail to collect together in their flocks and herds; and think of the trees, which do not fail to stand up (in their places). Do you, Master, imitate this way and carry it into practice; hurry on, following this course, and you will reach your end. Why must you further be vehement in putting forward your Benevolence and Righteousness, as if you were beating a drum, and seeking a fugitive son, (only making him run away the more)? Ah! Master, you are introducing disorder into the nature of man!’
8. Shih-khăng Khî2 , having an interview with Lâo-ȝze, asked him, saying, ‘I heard, Master, that you were a sage, and I came here, wishing to see you, without grudging the length of the journey. During the stages of the hundred days, the soles of my feet became quite callous, but I did not dare to stop and rest. Now I perceive that you are not a sage. Because there was some rice left about the holes of the rats, you sent away your younger sister, which was unkind; when your food, whether raw or cooked, remains before you not all consumed, you keep on hoarding it up to any extent1 .’ Lâo-ȝze looked indifferent, and gave him no answer.
Next day Khî again saw Lâo-ȝze, and said, ‘Yesterday I taunted you; but to-day I have gone back to a better mood of mind. What is the cause (of the change)2 ?’ Lâo-ȝze replied, ‘I consider that I have freed myself from the trammels of claiming to be artfully knowing, spirit-like, and sage. Yesterday if you had called me an ox, you might have done so; or if you had called me a horse, you might have done so3 . If there be a reality (corresponding to men’s ideas), and men give it a name, which another will not receive, he will in the sequel suffer the more. My manner was what I constantly observe;—I did not put it on for the occasion.’
Shih-khăng Khî sidled away out of Lâo’s shadow; then he retraced his steps, advanced forward, and asked how he should cultivate himself. The reply was, ‘Your demeanour is repelling; you stare with your eyes; your forehead is broad and yet tapering; you bark and growl with your mouth; your appearance is severe and pretentious; you are like a horse held by its tether, you would move, but are restrained, and (if let go) would start off like an arrow from a bow; you examine all the minutiae of a thing; your wisdom is artful, and yet you try to look at ease. All these are to be considered proofs of your want of sincerity. If on the borders one were to be found with them, he would be named a Thief.’
9. The Master1 said, ‘The Tâo does not exhaust itself in what is greatest, nor is it ever absent from what is least; and therefore it is to be found complete and diffused in all things. How wide is its universal comprehension! How deep is its unfathomableness! The embodiment of its attributes in benevolence and righteousness is but a small result of its spirit-like (working); but it is only the perfect man who can determine this. The perfect man has (the charge of) the world;—is not the charge great? and yet it is not sufficient to embarrass him. He wields the handle of power over the whole world, and yet it is nothing to him. His discrimination detects everything false, and no consideration of gain moves him. He penetrates to the truth of things, and can guard that which is fundamental. So it is that heaven and earth are external to him, and he views all things with indifference, and his spirit is never straitened by them. He has comprehended the Tâo, and is in harmony with its characteristics; he pushes back benevolence and righteousness (into their proper place), and deals with ceremonies and music as (simply) guests:—yes, the mind of the perfect man determines all things aright.’
10. What the world thinks the most valuable exhibition of the Tâo is to be found in books. But books are only a collection of words. Words have what is valuable in them;—what is valuable in words is the ideas they convey. But those ideas are a sequence of something else;—and what that something else is cannot be conveyed by words. When the world, because of the value which it attaches to words, commits them to books, that for which it so values them may not deserve to be valued;—because that which it values is not what is really valuable.
Thus it is that what we look at and can see is (only) the outward form and colour, and what we listen to and can hear is (only) names and sounds. Alas! that men of the world should think that form and colour, name and sound, should be sufficient to give them the real nature of the Tâo. The form and colour, the name and sound, are certainly not sufficient to convey its real nature; and so it is that ‘the wise do not speak and those who do speak are not wise.’ How should the world know that real nature?
Duke Hwan1 , seated above in his hall, was (once) reading a book, and the wheelwright Phien was making a wheel below it2 . Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Phien went up the steps, and said, ‘I venture to ask your Grace what words you are reading?’ The duke said, ‘The words of the sages.’ ‘Are those sages alive?’ Phien continued. ‘They are dead,’ was the reply. ‘Then,’ said the other, ‘what you, my Ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of those old men.’ The duke said, ‘How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book which I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you cannot, you shall die!’ The wheelwright said, ‘Your servant will look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough, but the workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither (too) gentle nor (too) violent, the idea in my mind is realised. But I cannot tell (how to do this) by word of mouth;—there is a knack in it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from me. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am (still) making wheels in my old age1 . But these ancients, and what it was not possible for them to convey, are dead and gone:—so then what you, my Ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments!’
Part II. Section VII.
Thien Yün, or ‘The Revolution of Heaven1 .’
1. How (ceaselessly) heaven revolves! How (constantly) earth abides at rest! And do the sun and moon contend about their (respective) places? Who presides over and directs these (things)? Who binds and connects them together? Who is it that, without trouble or exertion on his part, causes and maintains them? Is it, perhaps, that there is some secret spring, in consequence of which they cannot be but as they are? Or is it, perhaps, that they move and turn as they do, and cannot stop of themselves?
(Then) how the clouds become rain! And how the rain again forms the clouds! Who diffuses them so abundantly? Who is it that, without trouble or exertion on his part, produces this elemental enjoyment, and seems to stimulate it?
The winds rise in the north; one blows to the west, and another to the east; while some rise upwards, uncertain in their direction. By whose breathing are they produced? Who is it that, without any trouble and exertion of his own, effects all their undulations? I venture to ask their cause2 .
Wû-hsien Thiâo1 said, ‘Come, and I will tell you. To heaven there belong the six Extreme Points, and the five Elements2 . When the Tîs and Kings acted in accordance with them, there was good government; when they acted contrary to them, there was evil. Observing the things (described) in the nine divisions (of the writing) of Lo3 , their government was perfected and their virtue was complete. They inspected and enlightened the kingdom beneath them, and all under the sky acknowledged and sustained them. Such was the condition under the august (sovereigns4 ) and those before them.’
2. Tang5 , the chief administrator of Shang , asked Kwang-ȝze about Benevolence6 , and the answer was, ‘Wolves and tigers are benevolent.’ ‘What do you mean?’ said Tang. Kwang-ȝze replied, ‘Father and son (among them) are affectionate to one another. Why should they be considered as not benevolent?’ ‘Allow me to ask about perfect benevolence,’ pursued the other. Kwang-ȝze said, ‘Perfect benevolence1 does not admit (the feeling) of affection.’ The minister said, ‘I have heard that, without (the feeling of) affection there is no love, and without love there is not filial duty;—is it permissible to say that the perfectly benevolent are not filial?’ Kwang-ȝze rejoined, ‘That is not the way to put the case. Perfect Benevolence is the very highest thing;—filial duty is by no means sufficient to describe it. The saying which you quote is not to the effect that (such benevolence) transcends filial duty;—it does not refer to such duty at all. One, travelling to the south, comes (at last) to Ying2 , and there, standing with his face to the north, he does not see mount Ming3 . Why does he not see it? Because he is so far from it. Hence it is said, “Filial duty as a part of reverence is easy, but filial duty as a part of love is difficult. If it be easy as a part of love, yet it is difficult to forget4 one’s parents. It may be easy for me to forget my parents, but it is difficult to make my parents forget me. If it were easy to make my parents forget me, it is difficult for me to forget all men in the world. If it were easy to forget all men in the world, it is difficult to make them all forget me.”
‘This virtue might make one think light of Yâo and Shun, and not wish to be they5 . The profit and beneficial influences of it extend to a myriad ages, and no one in the world knows whence they come. How can you simply heave a great sigh, and speak (as you do) of benevolence and filial duty? Filial duty, fraternal respect, benevolence, righteousness, loyalty, sincerity, firmness, and purity;—all these may be pressed into the service of this virtue, but they are far from sufficient to come up to it. Therefore it is said, “To him who has what is most noble1 , all the dignities of a state are as nothing2 ; to him who has what is the greatest riches, all the wealth of a state is as nothing; to him who has all that he could wish, fame and praise are as nothing.” It is thus that the Tâo admits of no substitute.’
3. Pei-măn Khăng3 asked Hwang-Tî, saying, ‘You were celebrating, O Tî, a performance of the music of the Hsien-khih4 , in the open country near the Thung-thing lake. When I heard the first part of it, I was afraid; the next made me weary; and the last perplexed me. I became agitated and unable to speak, and lost my self-possession.’ The Tî said, ‘It was likely that it should so affect you! It was performed with (the instruments of) men, and all attuned according to (the influences of) Heaven. It proceeded according to (the principles of) propriety and righteousness, and was pervaded by (the idea of) the Grand Purity.
‘The Perfect Music first had its response in the affairs of men, and was conformed to the principles of Heaven; it indicated the action of the five virtues, and corresponded to the spontaneity (apparent in nature). After this it showed the blended distinctions of the four seasons, and the grand harmony of all things;—the succession of those seasons one after another, and the production of things in their proper order. Now it swelled, and now it died away, its peaceful and military strains clearly distinguished and given forth. Now it was clear, and now rough, as if the contracting and expanding of the elemental processes blended harmoniously (in its notes). Those notes then flowed away in waves of light, till, as when the hibernating insects first begin to move, I commanded the terrifying crash of thunder. Its end was marked by no formal conclusion, and it began again without any prelude. It seemed to die away, and then it burst into life; it came to a close, and then it rose again. So it went on regularly and inexhaustibly, and without the intervention of any pause:—it was this which made you afraid.
‘In the second part (of the performance), I made it describe the harmony of the Yin and Yang, and threw round it the brilliance of the sun and moon. Its notes were now short and now long, now soft and now hard. Their changes, however, were marked by an unbroken unity, though not dominated by a fixed regularity. They filled every valley and ravine; you might shut up every crevice, and guard your spirit (against their entrance), yet there was nothing but gave admission to them. Yea, those notes resounded slowly, and might have been pronounced high and clear. Hence the shades of the dead kept in their obscurity; the sun and moon, and all the stars of the zodiac, pursued their several courses. I made (my instruments) leave off, when (the performance) came to an end, and their (echoes) flowed on without stopping. You thought anxiously about it, and were not able to understand it; you looked for it, and were not able to see it; you pursued it, and were not able to reach it. Allamazed, you stood in the way all open around you, and then you leant against an old rotten dryandratree and hummed. The power of your eyes was exhausted by what you wished to see; your strength failed in your desire to pursue it, while I myself could not reach it. Your body was but so much empty vacancy while you endeavoured to retain your self-possession1 :—it was that endeavour which made you weary.
‘In the last part (of the performance), I employed notes which did not have that wearying effect. I blended them together as at the command of spontaneity. Hence they came as if following one another in confusion, like a clump of plants springing from one root, or like the music of a forest produced by no visible form. They spread themselves all around without leaving a trace (of their cause); and seemed to issue from deep obscurity where there was no sound. Their movements came from nowhere; their home was in the deep darkness;—conditions which some would call death, and some life; some, the fruit, and some, (merely) the flower. Those notes, moving and flowing on, separating and shifting, and not following any regular sounds, the world might well have doubts about them, and refer them to the judgment of a sage, for the sages understand the nature of this music, and judge in accordance with the prescribed (spontaneity). While the spring of that spontaneity has not been touched, and yet the regulators of the five notes are all prepared;—this is what is called the music of Heaven, delighting the mind without the use of words. Hence it is said in the eulogy of the Lord of Piâo1 , “You listen for it, and do not hear its sound; you look for it, and do not perceive its form; it fills heaven and earth; it envelopes all within the universe.” You wished to hear it, but could not take it in; and therefore you were perplexed.
‘I performed first the music calculated to awe; and you were frightened as if by a ghostly visitation. I followed it with that calculated to weary; and in your weariness you would have withdrawn. I concluded with that calculated to perplex; and in your perplexity you felt your stupidity. But that stupidity is akin to the Tâo; you may with it convey the Tâo in your person, and have it (ever) with you.’
4. When Confucius was travelling in the west in Wei, Yen Yüan asked the music-master Kin2 , saying, ‘How is it, do you think, with the course of the Master?’ The music-master replied, ‘Alas! it is all over with your Master!’ ‘How so?’ asked Yen Yüan; and the other said, ‘Before the grass-dogs1 are set forth (at the sacrifice), they are deposited in a box or basket, and wrapt up with elegantly embroidered cloths, while the representative of the dead and the officer of prayer prepare themselves by fasting to present them. After they have been set forth, however, passers-by trample on their heads and backs, and the grass-cutters take and burn them in cooking. That is all they are good for. If one should again take them, replace them in the box or basket, wrap them up with embroidered cloths, and then in rambling, or abiding at the spot, should go to sleep under them, if he do not get (evil) dreams, he is sure to be often troubled with the nightmare. Now here is your Master in the same way taking the grass-dogs, presented by the ancient kings, and leading his disciples to wander or abide and sleep under them. Owing to this, the tree (beneath which they were practising ceremonies) in Sung was cut down2 ; he was obliged to leave Wei3 ; he was reduced to extremities in Shang and Kâu4 :—were not those experiences like having (evil) dreams? He was kept in a state of siege between Khăn and Ȝhâi5 , so that for seven days he had no cooked food to eat, and was in a situation between life and death:—were not those experiences like the nightmare?
‘If you are travelling by water, your best plan is to use a boat; if by land, a carriage. Take a boat, which will go (easily) along on the water, and try to push it along on the land, and all your lifetime it will not go so much as a fathom or two:—are not ancient time and the present time like the water and the dry land? and are not Kâu and Lû like the boat and the carriage? To seek now to practise (the old ways of) Kâu in Lû is like pushing along a boat on the dry land. It is only a toilsome labour, and has no success; he who does so is sure to meet with calamity. He has not learned that in handing down the arts (of one time) he is sure to be reduced to extremity in endeavouring to adapt them to the conditions (of another).
‘And have you not seen the working of a shadoof? When (the rope of) it is pulled, it bends down; and when it is let go, it rises up. It is pulled by a man, and does not pull the man; and so, whether it bends down or rises up, it commits no offence against the man. In the same way the rules of propriety, righteousness, laws, and measures of the three Hwangs1 and five Tîs derived their excellence, not from their being the same as those of the present day, but from their (aptitude for) government. We may compare them to haws2 , pears, oranges, and pummeloes, which are different in flavour, but all suitable to be eaten. Just so it is that the rules of propriety, righteousness, laws, and measures, change according to the time.
‘If now you take a monkey, and dress it in the robes of the duke of Kâu, it will bite and tear them, and will not be satisfied till it has got rid of them altogether. And if you look at the difference between antiquity and the present time it is as great as that between the monkey and the duke of Kâu. In the same way, when Hsî Shih1 was troubled in mind, she would knit her brows and frown on all in her neighbourhood. An ugly woman of the neighbourhood, seeing and admiring her beauty, went home, and also laying her hands on her heart proceeded to stare and frown on all around her. When the rich people of the village saw her, they shut fast their doors and would not go out; when the poor people saw her, they took their wives and children and ran away from her. The woman knew how to admire the frowning beauty, but she did not know how it was that she, though frowning, was beautiful. Alas! it is indeed all over with your Master2 !’
5. When Confucius was in his fifty-first year3 , he had not heard of the Tâo, and went south to Phei4 to see Lâo Tan, who said to him, ‘You have come, Sir; have you? I have heard that you are the wisest man of the North; have you also got the Tâo?’ ‘Not yet,’ was the reply; and the other went on, ‘How have you sought it?’ Confucius said, ‘I sought it in measures and numbers, and after five years I had not got it.’ ‘And how then did you seek it?’ ‘I sought it in the Yin and Yang, and after twelve years I have not found it.’ Lâo-ȝze said, ‘Just so! If the Tâo could be presented (to another), men would all present it to their rulers; if it could be served up (to others), men would all serve it up to their parents; if it could be told (to others), men would all tell it to their brothers; if it could be given to others, men would all give it to their sons and grandsons. The reason why it cannot be transmitted is no other but this,—that if, within, there be not the presiding principle, it will not remain there, and if, outwardly, there be not the correct obedience, it will not be carried out. When that which is given out from the mind (in possession of it) is not received by the mind without, the sage will not give it out; and when, entering in from without, there is no power in the receiving mind to entertain it, the sage will not permit it to lie hid there1 . Fame is a possession common to all; we should not seek to have much of it. Benevolence and righteousness were as the lodging-houses of the former kings; we should only rest in them for a night, and not occupy them for long. If men see us doing so, they will have much to say against us.
‘The perfect men of old trod the path of benevolence as a path which they borrowed for the occasion, and dwelt in Righteousness as in a lodging which they used for a night. Thus they rambled in the vacancy of Untroubled Ease, found their food in the fields of Indifference, and stood in the gardens which they had not borrowed. Untroubled Ease requires the doing of nothing; Indifference is easily supplied with nourishment; not borrowing needs no outlay. The ancients called this the Enjoyment that Collects the True.
‘Those who think that wealth is the proper thing for them cannot give up their revenues; those who seek distinction cannot give up the thought of fame; those who cleave to power cannot give the handle of it to others. While they hold their grasp of those things, they are afraid (of losing them). When they let them go, they are grieved; and they will not look at a single example, from which they might perceive the (folly) of their restless pursuits:—such men are under the doom of Heaven1 .
‘Hatred and kindness; taking and giving; reproof and instruction; death and life:—these eight things are instruments of rectification, but only those are able to use them who do not obstinately refuse to comply with their great changes. Hence it is said, “Correction is Rectification.” When the minds of some do not acknowledge this, it is because the gate of Heaven1 (in them) has not been opened.’
6. At an interview with Lâo Tan, Confucius spoke to him of benevolence and righteousness. Lâo Tan said, ‘If you winnow chaff, and the dust gets into your eyes, then the places of heaven and earth and of the four cardinal points are all changed to you. If musquitoes or gadflies puncture your skin, it will keep you all the night2 from sleeping. But this painful iteration of benevolence and righteousness excites my mind and produces in it the greatest confusion. If you, Sir, would cause men not to lose their natural simplicity, and if you would also imitate the wind in its (unconstrained) movements, and stand forth in all the natural attributes belonging to you!—why must you use so much energy, and carry a great drum to seek for the son whom you have lost3 ? The snow-goose does not bathe every day to make itself white, nor the crow blacken itself every day to make itself black. The natural simplicity of their black and white does not afford any ground for controversy; and the fame and praise which men like to contemplate do not make them greater than they naturally are. When the springs (supplying the pools) are dried up, the fishes huddle together on the dry land. Than that they should moisten one another there by their gasping, and keep one another wet by their milt, it would be better for them to forget one another in the rivers and lakes4 .’
From this interview with Lâo Tan, Confucius returned home, and for three days did not speak. His disciples (then) asked him, saying, ‘Master, you have seen Lâo Tan; in what way might you admonish and correct him?’ Confucius said, ‘In him (I may say) that I have now seen the dragon. The dragon coils itself up, and there is its body; it unfolds itself and becomes the dragon complete. It rides on the cloudy air, and is nourished by the Yin and Yang. I kept my mouth open, and was unable to shut it;—how could I admonish and correct Lâo Tan?’
7. Ȝze-kung1 said, ‘So then, can (this) man indeed sit still as a representative of the dead, and then appear as the dragon? Can his voice resound as thunder, when he is profoundly still? Can he exhibit himself in his movements like heaven and earth? May I, Ȝhze, also get to see him?’ Accordingly with a message from Confucius he went to see Lâo Tan.
Lâo Tan was then about to answer (his salutation) haughtily in the hall, but he said in a low voice, ‘My years have rolled on and are passing away, what do you, Sir, wish to admonish me about?’ Ȝze-kung replied. ‘The Three Kings and Five Tîs2 ruled the world not in the same way, but the fame that has accrued to them is the same. How is it that you alone consider that they were not sages?’ ‘Come forward a little, my son. Why do you say that (their government) was not the same?’ ‘Yâo,’ was the reply, ‘gave the kingdom to Shun, and Shun gave it to Yü. Yü had recourse to his strength, and Thang to the force of arms. King Wăn was obedient to Kâu (-hsin), and did not dare to rebel; king Wû rebelled against Kâu, and would not submit to him. And I say that their methods were not the same.’ Lâo Tan said, ‘Come a little more forward, my son, and I will tell you how the Three Hwangs and the Five Tîs1 ruled the world. Hwang-Tî ruled it, so as to make the minds of the people all conformed to the One (simplicity). If the parents of one of them died, and he did not wail, no one blamed him. Yâo ruled it so as to cause the hearts of the people to cherish relative affection. If any, however, made the observances on the death of other members of their kindred less than those for their parents, no one blamed them2 . Shun ruled it, so as to produce a feeling of rivalry in the minds of the people. Their wives gave birth to their children in the tenth month of their pregnancy, but those children could speak at five months; and before they were three years old, they began to call people by their surnames and names. Then it was that men began to die prematurely. Yü ruled it, so as to cause the minds of the people to become changed. Men’s minds became scheming, and they used their weapons as if they might legitimately do so, (saying that they were) killing thieves and not killing other men. The people formed themselves into different combinations;—so it was throughout the kingdom. Everywhere there was great consternation, and then arose the Literati and (the followers of) Mo (Tî). From them came first the doctrine of the relationships (of society); and what can be said of the now prevailing customs (in the marrying of) wives and daughters? I tell you that the rule of the Three Kings and Five Tîs may be called by that name, but nothing can be greater than the disorder which it produced. The wisdom of the Three Kings was opposed to the brightness of the sun and moon above, contrary to the exquisite purity of the hills and streams below, and subversive of the beneficent gifts of the four seasons between. Their wisdom has been more fatal than the sting of a scorpion or the bite of a dangerous beast1 . Unable to rest in the true attributes of their nature and constitution, they still regarded themselves as sages:—was it not a thing to be ashamed of? But they were shameless.’ Ȝze-kung stood quite disconcerted and ill at ease.
8. Confucius said to Lâo Tan, ‘I have occupied myself with the Shih, the Shû, the Lî, the Yo, the Yî, and the Khun Khiû, those six Books, for what I myself consider a long time2 , and am thoroughly acquainted with their contents. With seventy-two rulers, all offenders against the right, I have discoursed about the ways of the former kings, and set forth the examples of (the dukes of) Kâu and Shâo; and not one of them has adopted (my views) and put them in practice:—how very difficult it is to prevail on such men, and to make clear the path to be pursued!’
Lâo-ȝze replied, ‘It is fortunate that you have not met with a ruler fitted to rule the age. Those six writings are a description of the vestiges left by the former kings, but do not tell how they made such vestiges; and what you, Sir, speak about are still only the vestiges. But vestiges are the prints left by the shoes;—are they the shoes that produced them? A pair of white herons look at each other with pupils that do not move, and impregnation takes place; the male insect emits its buzzing sound in the air above, and the female responds from the air below, and impregnation takes place; the creatures called lêi are both male and female, and each individual breeds of itself1 . The nature cannot be altered; the conferred constitution cannot be changed; the march of the seasons cannot be arrested; the Tâo cannot be stopped. If you get the Tâo, there is no effect that cannot be produced; if you miss it, there is no effect that can.’
Confucius (after this) did not go out, till at the end of three months he went again to see Lâo Tan, and said, ‘I have got it. Ravens produce their young by hatching; fishes by the communication of their milt; the small-waisted wasp by transformation1 ; when a younger brother comes, the elder weeps2 . Long is it that I have not played my part in harmony with these processes of transformation. But as I did not play my part in harmony with such transformation, how could I transform men?’ Lâo-ȝze said, ‘You will do. Khiû, you have found the Tâo.’
Part II. Section VIII.
Kho Î, or ‘Ingrained Ideas1 .’
1. Ingrained ideas and a high estimate of their own conduct; leaving the world, and pursuing uncommon ways; talking loftily and in resentful disparagement of others;—all this is simply symptomatic of arrogance. This is what scholars who betake themselves to the hills and valleys, who are always blaming the world, and who stand aloof like withered trees, or throw themselves into deep pools2 , are fond of.
Discoursing of benevolence, righteousness, loyalty, and good faith; being humble and frugal, self-forgetful and courteous;—all this is simply symptomatic of (self-)cultivation. This is what scholars who wish to tranquillise the world, teachers and instructors, men who pursue their studies at home and abroad, are fond of.
Discoursing of their great merit and making a great name for themselves; insisting on the ceremonies between ruler and minister; and rectifying the relations between high and low;—all this shows their one object to be the promotion of government. This is what officers of the court, men who honour their lord and would strengthen the state and who would do their utmost to incorporate other states with their own, are fond of.
Resorting to marshes and lakes; dwelling in solitary places; occupying themselves with angling and living at ease;—all this shows their one object to be to do nothing. This is what gentlemen of the rivers and seas, men who avoid the society of the world and desire to live at leisure, are fond of.
Blowing and breathing with open mouth; inhaling and exhaling the breath; expelling the old breath and taking in new; passing their time like the (dormant) bear1 , and stretching and twisting (the neck) like a bird ;—all this simply shows the desire for longevity. This is what the scholars who manipulate their breath, and the men who nourish the body and wish to live as long as Păng Ȝû, are fond of.
As to those who have a lofty character without any ingrained ideas; who pursue the path of self-cultivation without benevolence and righteousness; who succeed in government without great services or fame; who enjoy their ease without resorting to the rivers and seas; who attain to longevity without the management (of the breath); who forget all things and yet possess all things; whose placidity is unlimited, while all things to be valued attend them:—such men pursue the way of heaven and earth, and display the characteristics of the sages. Hence it is said2 , ‘Placidity, indifference, silence, quietude, absolute vacancy, and non-action:—these are the qualities which maintain the level of heaven and earth and are the substance of the Tâo and its characteristics.’
2. In accordance with this it is said, ‘The sage is entirely restful, and so (his mind) is evenly balanced and at ease. This even balance and ease appears in his placidity and indifference. In this state of even balance and ease, of placidity and indifference, anxieties and evils do not find access to him, no depraving influence can take him by surprise; his virtue is complete, and his spirit continues unimpaired.’
Therefore it is (also) said, ‘The life of the sage is (like) the action of Heaven; and his death is the transformation common to (all) things. In his stillness his virtue is the same as that of the Yin, and in movement his diffusiveness is like that of the Yang. He does not take the initiative in producing either happiness or calamity. He responds to the influence acting on him, and moves as he feels the pressure. He rises to act only when he is obliged to do so. He discards wisdom and the memories of the past; he follows the lines of his Heaven (-given nature); and therefore he suffers no calamity from Heaven, no involvement from things, no blame from men, and no reproof from the spirits of the dead1 . His life seems to float along; his death seems to be a resting. He does not indulge any anxious doubts; he does not lay plans beforehand. His light is without display; his good faith is without previous arrangement. His sleep is untroubled by dreams; his waking is followed by no sorrows. His spirit is guileless and pure; his soul is not subject to weariness. Vacant and without self-assertion, placid and indifferent, he agrees with the virtue of Heaven.’
Therefore it is said (further), ‘Sadness and pleasure show a depraving element in the virtue (of those who feel them); joy and anger show some error in their course; love and hatred show a failure of their virtue. Hence for the mind to be free from sorrow and pleasure is the perfection of virtue; to be of one mind that does not change is the perfection of quietude; to be conscious of no opposition is the perfection of vacancy; to have no intercourse with (external) things is the perfection of indifference; and to have no rebellious dissatisfactions is the perfection of purity.’
3. Therefore it is said (still further), ‘If the body be toiled, and does not rest, it becomes worn out; if the spirit be used without cessation, it becomes toiled; and when toiled, it becomes exhausted. It is the nature of water, when free from admixture, to be clear, and, when not agitated, to be level; while if obstructed and not allowed to flow, it cannot preserve its clearness;—being an image of the virtue of Heaven.’ Hence it is said (once again), ‘To be guileless and pure, and free from all admixture; to be still and uniform, without undergoing any change; to be indifferent and do nothing; to move and yet to act like Heaven:—this is the way to nourish the spirit. Now he who possesses a sword made at Kan-yüeh1 preserves it carefully in a box, and does not dare to use it;—it is considered the perfection of valuable swords. But the human spirit2 goes forth in all directions, flowing on without limit, reaching to heaven above, and wreathing round the earth beneath. It transforms and nourishes all things, and cannot be represented by any form. Its name is “the Divinity (in man)3 .” It is only the path of pure simplicity which guards and preserves the Spirit. When this path is preserved and not lost, it becomes one with the Spirit; and in this ethereal amalgamation, it acts in harmony with the orderly operation of Heaven.’
There is the vulgar saying, ‘The multitude of men consider gain to be the most important thing; pure scholars, fame; those who are wise and able value their ambition; the sage prizes essential purity.’ Therefore simplicity is the denomination of that in which there is no admixture; purity of that in which the spirit is not impaired. It is he who can embody simplicity and purity whom we call the True Man4 .
Part II. Section IX.
Shan Hsing, or ‘Correcting the Nature1 .’
1. Those who would correct their nature by means of the vulgar learning2 , seeking to restore it to its original condition, and those who would regulate3 their desires, by the vulgar ways of thinking, seeking thereby to carry their intelligence to perfection, must be pronounced to be deluded and ignorant people. The ancients who regulated the Tâo nourished their faculty of knowledge by their placidity, and all through life abstained from employing that faculty in action;—they must be pronounced to have (thus also) nourished their placidity by their knowledge4 .
When the faculty of knowledge and the placidity (thus) blend together, and they nourish each other, then from the nature there come forth harmony and orderly method. The attributes (of the Tâo) constitute the harmony; the Tâo (itself) secures the orderly method. When the attributes appear in a universal practice of forbearance, we have Benevolence; when the path is all marked by orderly method, we have Righteousness; when the righteousness is clearly manifested, and (all) things are regarded with affection, we have Leal-heartedness; when the (heart’s) core is thus (pure) and real, and carried back to its (proper) qualities, we have Music; when this sincerity appears in all the range of the capacity, and its demonstrations are in accordance with what is elegant, we have Ceremony. If Ceremonies and Music are carried out in an imperfect and one-sided manner, the world is thrown into confusion. When men would rectify others, and their own virtue is beclouded, it is not sufficient to extend itself to them. If an attempt be made so to extend it, they also will lose their (proper) nature.
2. The men of old, while the chaotic condition was yet undeveloped1 , shared the placid tranquillity which belonged to the whole world. At that time the Yin and Yang were harmonious and still; their resting and movement proceeded without any disturbance; the four seasons had their definite times; not a single thing received any injury, and no living being came to a premature end. Men might be possessed of (the faculty of) knowledge, but they had no occasion for its use. This was what is called the state of Perfect Unity. At this time, there was no action on the part of any one, but a constant manifestation of spontaneity.
This condition (of excellence) deteriorated and decayed, till Sui-zăn and Fû-hsî arose and commenced their administration of the world1 ; on which came a compliance (with their methods), but the state of unity was lost. The condition going on to deteriorate and decay, Shăn Năng and Hwang-Tî arose, and took the administration of the world, on which (the people) rested (in their methods), but did not themselves comply with them. Still the deterioration and decay continued till the lords of Thang and Yü2 began to administer the world. These introduced the method of governing by transformation, resorting to the stream (instead of to the spring)3 , thus vitiating the purity and destroying the simplicity (of the nature). They left the Tâo, and substituted the Good for it, and pursued the course of Haphazard Virtue. After this they forsook their nature and followed (the promptings of) their minds. One mind and another associated their knowledge, but were unable to give rest to the world. Then they added to this knowledge (external and) elegant forms, and went on to make these more and more numerous. The forms extinguished the (primal) simplicity, till the mind was drowned by their multiplicity. After this the people began to be perplexed and disordered, and had no way by which they might return to their true nature, and bring back their original condition.
3. Looking at the subject from this point of view, we see how the world lost1 the (proper) course, and how the course (which it took) only led it further astray . The world and the Way, when they came together, being (thus) lost to each other, how could the men of the Way make themselves conspicuous in the world? and how could the world rise to an appreciation of the Way? Since the Way had no means to make itself conspicuous in the world, and the world had no means of rising to an appreciation of the Way, though sagely men might not keep among the hills and forests, their virtue was hidden;—hidden, but not because they themselves sought to hide it.
Those whom the ancients called ‘Retired Scholars’ did not conceal their persons, and not allow themselves to be seen; they did not shut up their words, and refuse to give utterance to them; they did not hide away their knowledge, and refuse to bring it forth. The conditions laid on them by the times were very much awry. If the conditions of the times had allowed them to act in the world on a great scale, they would have brought back the state of unity without any trace being perceived (of how they did so). When those conditions shut them up entirely from such action, they struck their roots deeper (in themselves), were perfectly still and waited. It was thus that they preserved (the Way in) their own persons.
4. The ancients who preserved (the Way in) their own persons did not try by sophistical reasonings to gloss over their knowledge; they did not seek to embrace (everything in) the world in their knowledge, nor to comprehend all the virtues in it. Solitary and trembling they remained where they were, and sought the restoration of their nature. What had they to do with any further action? The Way indeed is not to be pursued, nor (all) its characteristics to be known on a small scale. A little knowledge is injurious to those characteristics; small doings are injurious to the Way;—hence it is said, ‘They simply rectified themselves.’ Complete enjoyment is what is meant by ‘the Attainment of the Aim.’
What was anciently called ‘the Attainment of the Aim’ did not mean the getting of carriages and coronets1 ; it simply meant that nothing more was needed for their enjoyment. Now-a-days what is called ‘the Attainment of the Aim’ means the getting of carriages and coronets. But carriages and coronets belong to the body; they do not affect the nature as it is constituted. When such things happen to come, it is but for a time; being but for a time, their coming cannot be obstructed and their going cannot be stopped2 . Therefore we should not because of carriages and coronets indulge our aims, nor because of distress and straitness resort to the vulgar (learning and thinking); the one of these conditions and the other may equally conduce to our enjoyment, which is simply to be free from anxiety. If now the departure of what is transient takes away one’s enjoyment, this view shows that what enjoyment it had given was worthless. Hence it is said, ‘They who lose themselves in their pursuit of things, and lose their nature in their study of what is vulgar, must be pronounced people who turn things upside down.’
Part II. Section X.
Khiû Shui, or ‘The Floods of Autumn1 .’
1. The time of the autumnal floods was come, and the hundred streams were all discharging themselves into the Ho. Its current was greatly swollen2 , so that across its channel from bank to bank one could not distinguish an ox from a horse. On this the (Spirit-) earl of the Ho3 laughed with delight, thinking that all the beauty of the world was to be found in his charge. Along the course of the river he walked east till he came to the North Sea, over which he looked, with his face to the east, without being able to see where its waters began. Then he began to turn his face round, looked across the expanse, (as if he were) confronting Zo , and said with a sigh, ‘What the vulgar saying expresses about him who has learned a hundred points (of the Tâo), and thinks that there is no one equal to himself, was surely spoken of me. And moreover, I have heard parties making little of the knowledge of Kung-nî and the righteousness of Po-î, and at first I did not believe them. Now I behold the all-but-boundless extent (of your realms). If I had not come to your gate, I should have been in danger (of continuing in my ignorance), and been laughed at for long in the schools of our great System1 .’
Zo, (the Spirit-lord) of the Northern Sea, said, ‘A frog in a well cannot be talked with about the sea;—he is confined to the limits of his hole. An insect of the summer cannot be talked with about ice;—it knows nothing beyond its own season. A scholar of limited views cannot be talked with about the Tâo;—he is bound by the teaching (which he has received). Now you have come forth from between your banks, and beheld the great sea. You have come to know your own ignorance and inferiority, and area in the way of being fitted to be talked with about great principles. Of all the waters under heaven there are none so great as the sea. A myriad streams flow into it without ceasing, and yet it is not filled; and afterwards2 it discharges them (also) without ceasing, and yet it is not emptied. In spring and in autumn it undergoes no change; it takes no notice of floods or of drought. Its superiority over such streams even as the Kiang and the Ho cannot be told by measures or numbers; and that I have never, notwithstanding this, made much of myself, is because I compare my own bodily form with (the greatness of) heaven and earth, and (remember that) I have received my breath from the Yin and Yang. Between heaven and earth I am but as a small stone or a small tree on a great hill. So long as I see myself to be thus small, how should I make much of myself? I estimate all within the four seas, compared with the space between heaven and earth, to be not so large as that occupied by a pile of stones in a large marsh! I estimate our Middle States, compared with the space between the four seas, to be smaller than a single little grain of rice in a great granary! When we would set forth the number of things (in existence), we speak of them as myriads; and man is only one of them. Men occupy all the nine provinces; but of all whose life is maintained by grain-food, wherever boats and carriages reach, men form only one portion. Thus, compared with the myriads of things, they are not equal to a single fine hair on the body of a horse. Within this range are comprehended all (the territories) which the five Tîs received in succession from one another; all which the royal founders of the three dynasties contended for; all which excited the anxiety of Benevolent men; and all which men in office have toiled for. Po-î was accounted famous for declining (to share in its government), and Kung-nî was accounted great because of the lessons which he addressed to it. They acted as they did, making much of themselves;—therein like you who a little time ago did so of yourself because of your (volume of) water!’
2. The earl of the Ho said, ‘Well then, may I consider heaven and earth as (the ideal of) what is great, and the point of a hair as that of what is small?’ Zo of the Northern Sea replied, ‘No. The (different) capacities of things are illimitable; time never stops, (but is always moving on); man’s lot is ever changing; the end and the beginning of things never occur (twice) in the same way. Therefore men of great wisdom, looking at things far off or near at hand, do not think them insignificant for being small, nor much of them for being great:—knowing how capacities differ illimitably. They appeal with intelligence to things of ancient and recent occurrence, without being troubled by the remoteness of the former, or standing on tiptoe to lay hold of the latter:—knowing that time never stops in its course. They examine with discrimination (cases of) fulness and of want, not overjoyed by success, nor disheartened by failure:—knowing the inconstancy of man’s lot. They know the plain and quiet path (in which things proceed), therefore they are not overjoyed to live, nor count it a calamity to die:—the end and the beginning of things never occurring (twice) in the same way.
‘We must reckon that what men know is not so much as what they do not know, and that the time since they were born is not so long as that which elapsed before they were born. When they take that which is most small and try to fill with it the dimensions of what is most great, this leads to error and confusion, and they cannot attain their end. Looking at the subject in this way, how can you know that the point of a hair is sufficient to determine the minuteness of what is most small, or that heaven and earth are sufficient to complete the dimensions of what is most large?’
3. The earl of the Ho said, ‘The disputers of the world all say, “That which is most minute has no bodily form; and that which is most great cannot be encompassed;”—is this really the truth?’ Zo of the Northern Sea replied, ‘When from the standpoint of what is small we look at what is great, we do not take it all in; when from the standpoint of what is great we look at what is small, we do not see it clearly. Now the subtile essence is smallness in its extreme degree; and the vast mass is greatness in its largest form. Different as they are, each has its suitability,—according to their several conditions. But the subtile and the gross both presuppose that they have a bodily form. Where there is no bodily form, there is no longer a possibility of numerical division; where it is not possible to encompass a mass, there is no longer a possibility of numerical estimate. What can be discoursed about in words is the grossness of things; what can be reached in idea is the subtilty of things. What cannot be discoursed about in words, and what cannot be reached by nice discrimination of thought, has nothing to do either with subtilty or grossness.
‘Therefore while the actions of the Great Man are not directed to injure men, he does not plume himself on his benevolence and kindness; while his movements are not made with a view to gain, he does not consider the menials of a family as mean; while he does not strive after property and wealth, he does not plume himself on declining them; while he does not borrow the help of others to accomplish his affairs, he does not plume himself on supporting himself by his own strength, nor does he despise those who in their greed do what is mean; while he differs in his conduct from the vulgar, he does not plume himself on being so different from them; while it is his desire to follow the multitude, he does not despise the glib-tongued flatterers. The rank and emoluments of the world furnish no stimulus to him, nor does he reckon its punishments and shame to be a disgrace. He knows that the right and the wrong can (often) not be distinguished, and that what is small and what is great can (often) not be defined. I have heard it said, “The Man of Tâo does not become distinguished; the greatest virtue is unsuccessful; the Great Man has no thought of self;”—to so great a degree may the lot be restricted.’
4. The earl of the Ho said, ‘Whether the subject be what is external in things, or what is internal, how do we come to make a distinction between them as noble and mean, and as great or small?’ Zo of the Northern Sea replied, ‘When we look at them in the light of the Tâo, they are neither noble nor mean. Looking at them in themselves, each thinks itself noble, and despises others. Looking at them in the light of common opinion, their being noble or mean does not depend on themselves. Looking at them in their differences from one another, if we call those great which are greater than others, there is nothing that is not great, and in the same way there is nothing that is not small. We shall (thus) know that heaven and earth is but (as) a grain of the smallest rice, and that the point of a hair is (as) a mound or a mountain;—such is the view given of them by their relative size. Looking at them from the services they render, allowing to everything the service which it does, there is not one which is not serviceable; and, extending the consideration to what it does not do, there is not one which is not unserviceable. We know (for instance) that East and West are opposed to each other, and yet that the one cannot be without (suggesting the idea of) the other;—(thus) their share of mutual service is determined. Looking at them with respect to their tendencies, if we approve of what they approve, then there is no one who may not be approved of; and, if we condemn what they condemn, there is no one who may not be condemned. There are the cases of Yâo and Kieh, each of whom approved of his own course, and condemned the other;—such is the view arising from the consideration of tendency and aim.
‘Formerly Yâo and Shun resigned (their thrones), and yet each continued to be Tî; Kih-khwâi1 resigned (his marquisate) which led to his ruin. Thang and Wû contended (for the sovereignty), and each became king; the duke of Pâi2 contended (for Khû), which led to his extinction. Looking at the subject from these examples of striving by force and of resigning, and from the conduct of Yâo (on the one hand) and of Kieh (on the other), we see that there is a time for noble acting, and a time for mean;—these characteristics are subject to no regular rule.
5. ‘A battering ram may be used against the wall of a city, but it cannot be employed to stop up a hole;—the uses of implements are different. The (horses) Khih-kî and Hwâ-liû1 could in one day gallop 1000 lî, but for catching rats they were not equal to a wild dog or a weasel;—the gifts of creatures are different. The white horned owl collects its fleas in the night-time, and can discern the point of a hair, but in bright day it stares with its eyes and cannot see a mound or a hill;—the natures of creatures are different.
‘Hence the sayings, “Shall we not follow and honour the right, and have nothing to do with the wrong? shall we not follow and honour those who secure good government, and have nothing to do with those who produce disorder?” show a want of acquaintance with the principles of Heaven and Earth, and with the different qualities of things. It is like following and honouring Heaven and taking no account of Earth; it is like following and honouring the Yin and taking no account of the Yang. It is clear that such a course cannot be pursued. Yet notwithstanding they go on talking so:—if they are not stupid, they are visionaries. The Tî sovereigns resigned their thrones to others in one way, and the rulers of the three dynasties transmitted their thrones to their successors in another. He who acts differently from the requirements of his time and contrary to its custom is called an usurper; he who complies with the time and follows the common practice is said to be righteous. Hold your peace, O earl of the Ho. How should you know what constitutes being noble and being mean, or who are the small and who the great?’
6. The earl of the Ho said, ‘Very well. But what am I to do? and what am I not to do? How am I to be guided after all in regard to what I accept or reject, and what I pursue or put away from me?’ Zo of the Northern Sea replied, ‘From the standpoint of the Tâo, what is noble? and what is mean? These expressions are but the different extremes of the average level. Do not keep pertinaciously to your own ideas, which put you in such opposition to the Tâo. What are few? and what are many? These are denominations which we employ in thanking (donors) and dispensing gifts. Do not study to be uniform in doing so;—it only shows how different you are from the Tâo. Be severe and strict, like the ruler of a state who does not selfishly bestow his favours. Be scrupulous, yet gentle, like the tutelary spirit of the land, when sacrifice is offered to him who does not bestow his blessing selfishly. Be large-minded like space, whose four terminating points are illimitable, and form no particular enclosures. Hold all things in your love, favouring and supporting none specially. This is called being without any local or partial regard; all things are equally regarded; there is no long or short among them.
‘There is no end or beginning to the Tâo. Things indeed die and are born, not reaching a perfect state which can be relied on. Now there is emptiness, and now fulness;—they do not continue in one form. The years cannot be reproduced; time cannot be arrested. Decay and growth, fulness and emptiness, when they end, begin again. It is thus that we describe the method of great righteousness, and discourse about the principle pervading all things. The life of things is like the hurrying and galloping along of a horse. With every movement there is a change; with every moment there is an alteration. What should you be doing? what should you not be doing? You have only to be allowing this course of natural transformation to be going on.’
7. The earl of the Ho said, ‘What then is there so valuable in the Tâo?’ Zo of the Northern Sea replied, ‘He who knows the Tâo is sure to be well acquainted with the principles (that appear in the procedures of things). Acquainted with (those) principles, he is sure to understand how to regulate his conduct in all varying circumstances. Having that understanding, he will not allow things to injure himself. Fire cannot burn him who is (so) perfect in virtue, nor water drown him; neither cold nor heat can affect him injuriously; neither bird nor beast can hurt him. This does not mean that he is indifferent to these things; it means that he discriminates between where he may safely rest and where he will be in peril; that he is tranquil equally in calamity and happiness; that he is careful what he avoids and what he approaches;—so that nothing can injure him. Hence it is said, “What is heavenly is internal; what is human is external.” The virtue (of man) is in what is Heavenly. If you know the operation of what is Heavenly and what is Human, you will have your root in what is Heavenly and your position in Virtue. You will bend or stretch (only) after the (necessary) hesitation; you will have returned to the essential, and may be pronounced to have reached perfection.’
‘What do you mean,’ pursued the earl, ‘by the Heavenly, and by the Human?’ Zo replied, ‘Oxen and horses have four feet;—that is what I call their Heavenly (constitution). When horses’ heads are haltered, and the noses of oxen are pierced, that is what I call (the doing of) Man. Hence it is said, “Do not by the Human (doing) extinguish the Heavenly (constitution); do not for your (Human) purpose extinguish the appointment (of Heaven); do not bury your (proper) fame in (such) a pursuit of it; carefully guard (the Way) and do not lose it:—this is what I call reverting to your True (Nature).” ’
The khwei said to the millipede, ‘With my one leg I hop about, and can hardly manage to go along. Now you have a myriad feet which you can employ; how is it that you are so abundantly furnished?’ The millipede said, ‘It is not so. Have you not seen one ejecting saliva? The largest portion of it is like a pearl, while the smaller portions fall down like a shower of mist in innumerable drops. Now I put in motion the springs set in me by Heaven, without knowing how I do so.’
The millipede said to the serpent, ‘I go along by means of my multitude of feet; and yet how is it that I do not go so fast as you who have no feet at all?’ The serpent replied, ‘How can the method of moving by the springs set in us by Heaven be changed? How could I make use of feet?’
The serpent said to the wind, ‘I get along by moving my backbone and ribs, thus appearing to have some (bodily) means of progression. But now you, Sir, rise with a blustering force in the North Sea, and go on in the same way to the South Sea;—seemingly without any such means. How does it take place?’ The wind said, ‘Yes. With such a blustering force I rise in the North Sea and go on to the South Sea. But you can point to me, and therein are superior to me, as you are also in treading on me. Yet notwithstanding, it is only I who can break great trees, and blow down great houses. Therefore he whom all that are small cannot overcome is a great overcomer. But it is only he who is the sagely man1 that is the Great Conqueror (of all).’
9. When Confucius was travelling in Khwang2 , some people of Sung (once) surrounded him (with a hostile intention) several ranks deep; but he kept singing to his lute without stopping. Ȝze-lû came in, and saw him, and said, ‘How is it, Master, that you are so pleased?’ Confucius said, ‘Come here, and I will tell you. I have tried to avoid being reduced to such a strait for a long time; and that I have not escaped shows that it was so appointed for me. I have sought to find a ruler that would employ me for a long time, and that I have not found one, shows the character of the time. Under Yâo and Shun there was no one in the kingdom reduced to straits like mine; and it was not by their sagacity that men succeeded as they did. Under Kieh and Kâu no (good and able man) in the kingdom found his way to employment; and it was not for (want of) sagacity that they failed to do so. It was simply owing to the times and their character.
‘People that do business on the water do not shrink from meeting iguanodons and dragons;—that is the courage of fishermen. Those who do business on land do not shrink from meeting rhinoceroses and tigers;—that is the courage of hunters. When men see the sharp weapons crossed before them, and look on death as going home;—that is the courage of the determined soldier. When he knows that his strait is determined for him, and that the employment of him by a ruler depends on the character of the time, and then meeting with great distress is yet not afraid;—that is the courage of the sagely man. Wait, my good Yû, and you will see what there is determined for me in my lot.’ A little afterwards, the leader of the armed men approached and took his leave, saying, ‘We thought you were Yang Hû1 , and therefore surrounded you. Now we see our mistake.’ (With this) he begged to take his leave, and withdrew.
10. Kung-sun Lung2 asked Mâu of Wei3 , saying, ‘When I was young, I learned the teachings of the former kings; and when I was grown up, I became proficient in the practice of benevolence and righteousness. I brought together the views that agreed and disagreed; I considered the questions about hardness and whiteness4 ; I set forth what was to be affirmed and what was not, and what was allowable and what was not; I studied painfully the various schools of thought, and made myself master of the reasonings of all their masters. I thought that I had reached a good understanding of every subject; but now that I have heard the words of Kwang-ȝze, they throw me into a flutter of surprise. I do not know whether it be that I do not come up to him in the power of discussion, or that my knowledge is not equal to his. But now I do not feel able to open my mouth, and venture to ask you what course I should pursue.’ Kung-ȝze Mâu leant forward on his stool, drew a long breath, looked up to heaven, smiled, and said, ‘Have you not heard of the frog of the dilapidated well, and how it said to the turtle of the Eastern Sea, “How I enjoy myself? I leap upon the parapet of this well. I enter, and having by means of the projections formed by the fragments of the broken tiles of the lining proceeded to the water, I draw my legs together, keep my chin up, (and strike out). When I have got to the mud, I dive till my feet are lost in it. Then turning round, I see that of the shrimps, crabs, and tadpoles there is not one that can do like me. Moreover, when one has entire command of all the water in the gully, and hesitates to go forward, it is the greatest pleasure to enjoy one’s self here in this dilapidated well1 ;—why do not you, Master, often come and enter, and see it for yourself?” The turtle of the Eastern Sea (was then proceeding to go forward), but before he had put in his left foot, he found his right knee caught and held fast. On this he hesitated, drew back, and told (the frog) all about the sea, saying, “A distance of a thousand lî is not sufficient to express its extent, nor would (a line of) eight thousand cubits be equal to sound its depth. In the time of Yü, for nine years out of ten the flooded land (all drained into it), and its water was not sensibly increased; and in the time of Thang for seven years out of eight there was a drought, but the rocks on the shore (saw) no diminution of the water because of it. Thus it is that no change is produced in its waters by any cause operating for a short time or a long, and that they do not advance nor recede for any addition or subtraction, whether great or small; and this is the great pleasure afforded by the Eastern Sea.” When the frog of the dilapidated well heard this, he was amazed and terror-struck, and lost himself in surprise.
‘And moreover, when you, who have not wisdom enough to know where the discussions about what is right and what is wrong should end, still desire to see through the words of Kwang-ȝze, that is like employing a mosquito to carry a mountain on its back, or a millipede1 to gallop as fast as the Ho runs;—tasks to which both the insects are sure to be unequal. Still further, when you, who have not wisdom enough to know the words employed in discussing very mysterious subjects, yet hasten to show your sharpness of speech on any occasion that may occur, is not this being like the frog of the dilapidated well?
‘And that (Kwang-ȝze) now plants his foot on the Yellow Springs (below the earth), and anon rises to the height of the Empyrean. Without any regard to south and north, with freedom he launches out in every direction, and is lost in the unfathomable. Without any regard to east and west, starting from what is abysmally obscure, he comes back to what is grandly intelligible. (All the while), you, Sir, in amazement, search for his views to examine them, and grope among them for matter for discussion;—this is just like peeping at the heavens through a tube, or aiming at the earth with an awl; are not both the implements too small for the purpose? Go your ways, Sir.
‘And have you not heard of the young learners of Shâu-ling1 , and how they did in Han-tan? Before they had acquired what they might have done in that capital, they had forgotten what they had learned to do in their old city, and were marched back to it on their hands and knees. If now you do not go away, you will forget your old acquirements, and fail in your profession.’
Kung-sun Lung gaped on the speaker, and could not shut his mouth, and his tongue clave to its roof. He slank away and ran off.
11.Kwang-ȝze was (once) fishing in the river Phû2 , when the king of Khû3 sent two great officers to him, with the message, ‘I wish to trouble you with the charge of all within my territories.’ Kwang-ȝze kept on holding his rod without looking round, and said, ‘I have heard that in Khû there is a spirit-like tortoise-shell, the wearer of which died 3000 years ago4 , and which the king keeps, in his ancestral temple, in a hamper covered with a cloth. Was it better for the tortoise to die, and leave its shell to be thus honoured? Or would it have been better for it to live, and keep on dragging its tail through the mud?’ The two officers said, ‘It would have been better for it to live, and draw its tail after it over the mud5 .’ ‘Go your ways. I will keep on drawing my tail after me through the mud.’
12. Hui-ȝze being a minister of state in Liang1 , Kwang-ȝze went to see him. Some one had told Hui-ȝze that Kwang-ȝze was come with a wish to supersede him in his office, on which he was afraid, and instituted a search for the stranger all over the kingdom for three days and three nights. (After this) Kwang-ȝze went and saw him, and said, ‘There is in the south a bird, called “the Young Phoenix2 ;”—do you know it? Starting from the South Sea, it flies to the Northern; never resting but on the bignonia3 , never eating but the fruit of the melia azederach4 , and never drinking but from the purest springs. An owl, which had got a putrid rat, (once), when a phoenix went passing overhead, looked up to it and gave an angry scream. Do you wish now, in your possession of the kingdom of Liang, to frighten me with a similar scream?’
13.Kwang-ȝze and Hui-ȝze were walking on the dam over the Hâo5 , when the former said, ‘These thryssas come out, and play about at their ease;—that is the enjoyment of fishes.’ The other said, ‘You are not a fish; how do you know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes1 ?’ Kwang-ȝze rejoined, ‘You are not I. How do you know that I do not know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes?’ Hui-ȝze said, ‘I am not you; and though indeed I do not fully know you, you certainly are not a fish, and (the argument) is complete against your knowing what constitutes the happiness of fishes.’ Kwang-ȝze replied, ‘Let us keep to your original question. You said to me, “How do you know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes?” You knew that I knew it, and yet you put your question to me;—well, I know it (from our enjoying ourselves together) over the Hâo.’
Transliteration of Oriental Alphabets
[1 ] See pp. 138, 139.
[2 ] ‘Come out from the nature,’ but ‘nature’ must be taken here as in the translation. The character is not Tâo.
[3 ] The five viscera are the heart, the liver, the stomach, the lungs, and the kidneys. To the liver are assigned the element ‘wood,’ and the virtue of benevolence; to the lungs, the element ‘metal,’ and the virtue of righteousness.
[1 ] Black, red, azure (green, blue, or black), white, and yellow.
[2 ] The same as the Lî Lâu of Mencius (IV, i, 1),—of the time of Hwang-Tî. It is not easy to construe the text here, and in the analogous sentences below. Hsüan Ying, having read on to the as the uninterrupted predicate of the sharp seer, says, ‘Is not this a proof of the extraordinary gift?’ What follows would be, ‘But it was exemplified in Lî Kû.’ The meaning that is given in the version was the first that occurred to myself.
[3 ] The five notes of the Chinese musical scale.
[4 ] There are twelve of these musical notes, determined by the twelve regulating tubes; six, represented here by Hwang-kung, the name of the first tube, giving the sharp notes; and six, represented by Tâ-lü, giving the flat notes.
[5 ] See in II, par. 5.
[6 ] The famous Ȝăng-ȝze, or Ȝăng Shăn, one of Confucius’s ablest disciples.
[7 ] An officer of Wei in the sixth century bc He belonged to a family of historiographers, and hence the surname Shih (). Confucius mentions him in the most honourable terms in the Analect XV, vi, by the name Shih Yü. ‘Righteousness’ was his great attribute.
[1 ] The two heresiarchs so much denounced by Mencius. Both have appeared in previous Books.
[1 ] Those of Hsiâ, Shang, and Kâu;—from the twenty-third century bc to our author’s own time.
[1 ] See the Khang-hsî dictionary under the character .
[2 ] Playing at some game with dice.
[3 ] See VI, par. 3.
[4 ] A mountain in the present Shan-hsî, probably in the department of Phû-kâu.
[5 ] A strange character, but not historical, represented as a brother of Liû-hsiâ Hui. See Bk. XXIX.
[6 ] ‘The Eastern Height,’ = the Thâi mountain in the present Shan-tung.
[1 ] Different from Yîh-ya, the famous cook of duke Hwan of Khî. This is said to have been of the time of Hwang-Tî. But there are different readings of the name.
[1 ] See pp. 140, 141.
[2 ] Literally, ‘righteous towers;’ but is very variously applied, and there are other readings. Compare the name of ling thâi, given by the people to the tower built by king Wăn; Shih, III, i, 8.
[3 ] A mythical being, the first tamer of horses. The name is given to a star, where he is supposed to have his seat as superintendent of the horses of heaven. It became a designation of Sun Yang, a famous charioteer of the later period of the Kâu dynasty, but it could not be he whom Kwang-ȝze had in view.
[4 ] Po-lâo set the example of dealing with horses as now described; but the supplement which I have introduced seems to bring out better our author’s meaning.
[1 ] Compare the same language in the previous Book, par. 3.
[2 ] But the weaver’s or agriculturist’s art has no more title to be called primitive than the potter’s or carpenter’s.
[3 ] A difficult expression; but the translation, probably, gives its true significance. ‘Heaven’ here is synonymous with ‘the Tâo;’ but its use shows how readily the minds, even of Lâo and Kwang, had recourse to the earliest term by which the Chinese fathers had expressed their recognition of a Supreme and Controlling Power and Government.
[1 ] An ancient sovereign; but nothing more definite can be said about him. Most of the critics identify him with Shăn-năng, the Father of Husbandry, who occupies the place in chronological tables after Fû-hsî, between him and Hwang-Tî. In the Tables of the Dynastic Histories, published in 1817, he is placed seventh in the list of fifteen reigns, which are placed without any specification of their length between Fû-hsî and Shăn-năng. The name is written as and .
[1 ] See pp. 141, 142.
[1 ] The meaning is plain; but to introduce the various geographical terms would make the translation cumbrous. The concluding is perplexing.
[2 ] This event is mentioned in the Analects, XIV, xxii, where the perpetrator of the murder is called Khăn Khăng-ȝze, and Khăn Hăng. Hăng was his name, and Khăng the honorary title given to him after his death. The family to which he belonged had originally taken refuge in Khî from the state of Khăn in bc 672. Why and when its chiefs adopted the surname Thien instead of Khăn is not well known. The murder took place in 482. Hăng did not immediately usurp the marquisate; but he and his successors disposed of it at their pleasure among the representatives of the old House till 386, when Thien Ho was recognised by the king of Kâu as the marquis; and his next successor but one took the title of king.
[3 ] The kingdom of Khî came to an end in bc 221, the first year of the dynasty of Khin, after it had lasted through five reigns. How Kwang-ȝze made out his ‘twelve generations’ we cannot tell. There may be an interpolation in his text made in the time of Khin, or subsequently.
[1 ] See on Book IV, par. 1.
[2 ] See on Book IV, par. 1.
[3 ] A historiographer of Kâu, with whom Confucius is said to have studied music. He was weakly and unjustly put to death, as here described by king Kăng, in bc 492.
[4 ] Wû Ȝze-hsü, the hero of revenge, who fled from Khû to Wû, which he long served. He was driven at last to commit suicide, and his body was then put into a leathern wine-sack, and thrown into the Kiang near the present Sû-kâu;—about bc 475.
[5 ] See on Book VIII, par. 4.
[1 ] This is an instance of cause and effect naturally happening.
[2 ] At a meeting of the princes, presided over by king Hsüan of Khû (bc 369-340), the ruler of Lû brought very poor wine for the king, which was presented to him as wine of Kâo, in consequence of a grudge against that kingdom by his officer of wines. In consequence of this king Hsüan ordered siege to be laid to Han-tan, the capital of Kâo. This is an instance of cause and effect occurring irregularly.
[3 ] There seems to be no connexion of cause and effect here; but Kwang-ȝze goes on in his own way to make out that there is such a connexion.
[1 ] The verb ‘to steal’ is here used transitively, and with a hiphil force.
[1 ] See the Tâo Teh King, ch. 36. Our author’s use of it throws light on its meaning.
[2 ] Note 1, p. 186.
[3 ] Note 2, p. 269.
[4 ] A skilful maker of arrows of the time of Yâo,—the Kung-kung of the Shû, II, i, 21; V, xxii, 19.
[1 ] The Tâo Teh King, ch. 45.
[2 ] Note 6, p. 269.
[3 ] Note 7, p. 269.
[4 ] Note 5, p. 261.
[5 ] Of the twelve names mentioned here the reader is probably familiar with those of Fû-hsî and Shăn-năng, the first and second of the Tî in chronology. Hsien-yüan is another name for Hwang-Tî, the third of them. Kû-yung was, perhaps, a minister of Hwang-Tî. Ho-hsü has occurred before in Book IV. Of the other seven, five occur among the fifteen sovereigns placed in the ‘Compendium of History’ between Fû-hsî and Shăn-năng. The remaining two may be found, I suppose, in the Lû Shih of Lo Pî.
[1 ] See the eightieth chapter of the Tâo Teh King.
[1 ] See pp. 142, 143.
[1 ] I supply the ‘it is as if,’ after the example of the critic Lû Shû-kih, who here introduces a in his commentary (). What the text seems to state as a fact is only an illustration. Compare the concluding paragraphs in all the Sections and Parts of the fourth Book of the Lî Kî.
[2 ] Our moral instincts protest against Tâoism which thus places in the same category such sovereigns as Yâo and Kieh, and such men as the brigand Kih and Ȝăng and Shih.
[1 ] Here is the Tâoistic meaning of the title of this Book.
[1 ] A quotation, but without any indication that it is so, from the Tâo Teh King, ch. 13.
[2 ] Probably an imaginary personage.
[1 ] I must suppose that the words of Lâo-ȝze stop here, and that what follows is from Kwang-ȝze himself, down to the end of the paragraph. We cannot have Lâo-ȝze referring to men later than himself, and quoting from his own Book.
[2 ] Hitherto Yâo and Shun have appeared as the first disturbers of the rule of the Tâo by their benevolence and righteousness. Here that innovation is carried further back to Hwang-Tî.
[3 ] See these parties, and the way they were dealt with, in the Shû King, Part II, Book I, 3. The punishment of them is there ascribed to Shun; but Yâo was still alive, and Shun was acting as his viceroy.
[1 ] Compare this picture of the times after Yâo and Shun with that given by Mencius in III, ii, ch. 9 et al. But the conclusions arrived at as to the causes and cure of their evils by him and our author are very different.
[2 ] A quotation, with the regular formula, from the Tâo Teh King, ch. 19, with some variation of the text.
[3 ] ? in bc 2678.
[4 ] Another imaginary personage; apparently, a personification of the Tâo. Some say he was Lâo-ȝze,—in one of his early states of existence; others that he was ‘a True Man,’ the teacher of Hwang-Tî. See Ko Hung’s ‘Immortals,’ I, i.
[5 ] Equally imaginary is the mountain Khung-thung. Some critics find a place for it in the province of Ho-nan; the majority say it is the highest point in the constellation of the Great Bear.
[6 ] The original ether, undivided, out of which all things were formed.
[1 ] The same ether, now in motion, now at rest, divided into the Yin and Yang.
[1 ] It seems very clear here that the earliest Tâoism taught that the cultivation of the Tâo tended to prolong and preserve the bodily life.
[2 ] A remarkable, but not a singular, instance of Kwang-ȝze’s application of the name ‘Heaven.’
[1 ] A very difficult sentence, in interpreting which there are great differences among the critics.
[2 ] I have preferred to retain Yün Kiang and Hung Mung as if they were the surnames and names of two personages here introduced. Mr. Balfour renders them by ‘The Spirit of the Clouds,’ and ‘Mists of Chaos.’ The Spirits of heaven or the sky have still their place in the Sacrificial Canon of China, as ‘the Cloud-Master, the Rain-Master, the Baron of the Winds, and the Thunder Master.’ Hung Mung, again, is a name for ‘the Great Ether,’ or, as Dr. Medhurst calls it, ‘the Primitive Chaos.’
[3 ] Literally, ‘passing by a branch of Fû-yâo;’ but we find fû-yâo in Book I, meaning ‘a whirlwind.’ The term ‘branch’ has made some critics explain it here as ‘the name of a tree,’ which is inadmissible. I have translated according to the view of Lû Shû-kih.
[4 ] Or ‘stomach,’—according to another reading.
[1 ] Probably, the yin, the yang, wind, rain, darkness, and light;—see Mayers, p. 323.
[2 ] See Introduction, pp. 17, 18.
[3 ] Compare in Book XXIII, par. 1.
[1 ] They never show any will of their own.—On the names Yün Kiang and Hung Mung, Lû Shû-kih makes the following remarks:—‘These were not men, and yet they are introduced here as questioning and answering each other; showing us that our author frames and employs his surnames and names to serve his own purpose. Those names and the speeches made by the parties are all from him. We must believe that he introduces Confucius, Yâo, and Shun just in the same way.’
[1 ] Meaning eccentric thinkers not Tâoists, like Hui-ȝze, Kung-sun Lung, and others.
[2 ] The construing and connexion of this sentence are puzzling.
[1 ] ‘The nine regions’ generally means the nine provinces into which the Great Yü divided the kingdom. As our author is here describing the grand Tâoist ruler after his fashion in his relation to the universe, we must give the phrase a wider meaning; but I have not met with any attempt to define it.
[1 ] All these sentences are understood to show that even in the non-action of the Master of the Tâo there are still things he must do.
[1 ] Antithetic to the previous sentences, and showing that what such a Master does does not interfere with his non-action.
[2 ] This question and what follows shows clearly enough that, even with Kwang-ȝze, the character Tâo () retained its proper meaning of the Way or Course.
[1 ] See pp. 143, 144.
[2 ] Implying that that ruler, ‘the Son of Heaven,’ is only one.
[3 ] ‘Heaven’ is here defined as meaning ‘Non-action, what is of itself ();’ the teh () is the virtue, or qualities of the Tâo;—see the first paragraph of the next Book.
[4 ] This sentence gives the thesis, or subject-matter of the whole Book, which the author never loses sight of.
[5 ] Perhaps we should translate here, ‘They looked at their words,’ referring to ‘the ancient rulers.’ So Gabelentz construes:—‘Dem Tâo gemäss betrachteten sie die reden.’ The meaning that I have given is substantially the same. The term ‘words’ occasions a difficulty. I understand it here, with most of the critics, as , ‘the words of appellation.’
[1 ] Meaning, probably, his appellation as Thien Ȝze, ‘the Son of Heaven.’
[2 ] That is, ‘they responded to the Tâo,’ without any constraint but the example of their rulers.
[3 ] Here there would seem to be a quotation which I have not been able to trace to its source.
[4 ] This ‘Record’ is attributed to Lâo-ȝze; but we know nothing of it. In illustration of the sentiment in the sentence, the critics refer to par. 34 in the fourth Appendix to the Yî King; but it is not to the point.
[1 ] Who is ‘the Master’ here? Confucius? or Lâo-ȝze? I think the latter, though sometimes even our author thus denominates Confucius;—see par. 9.
[2 ] ? the Tâo.
[1 ] Balfour:—‘The difference between life and death exists no more;’ Gabelentz:—‘Sterben und Leben haben gleiche Erscheinung.’
[1 ] I can hardly follow the reasoning of Kwang-ȝze here. The whole of the paragraph is obscure. I have translated the two concluding characters , as if they were , after the example of Lin Hsî-yî, whose edition of Kwang-ȝze was first published in 1261.
[2 ] Meaning the Tâo. This is not to be got or learned by wisdom, or perspicacity, or man’s reasoning. It is instinctive to man, as the Heavenly gift or Truth ().
[1 ] The meaning of the characters shows what is the idea emblemed by this name; and so with Hsiang Wang,—‘a Semblance,’ and ‘Nonentity;’ = ‘Mindless,’ ‘Purposeless.’
[2 ] All these names have occurred, excepting that of Pheî-î, who heads Hwang-fû Mî’s list of eminent Tâoists. We shall meet with him again. He is to be distinguished from Phû-î.
[3 ] ‘Match Heaven;’ that is, be sovereign below, as Heaven above ruled all.
[4 ] We are referred for the meaning of this characteristic to , in Bk. V, par. 1.
[1 ] That is, Nieh might be a minister, but could not be the sovereign. The phraseology is based on the rules for the rise of sub-surnames in the same clan, and the consequent division of clans under different ancestors;—see the Lî Kî, Bk. XIII, i, 10-14, and XIV, 8.
[2 ] ‘Hwâ’ is evidently intended for the name of a place, but where it was can hardly be determined. The genuineness of the whole paragraph is called in question; and I pass it by, merely calling attention to what the border-warden is made to say about the close of the life of the sage (Tâoist), who after living a thousand years, ascends among the Immortals (), and arrives at the place of God, and is free from the three evils of disease, old age, and death; or as some say, after the Buddhists, water, fire, and wind!
[1 ] Some legends say that this Po-khăng Ȝze-kâo was a pre-incarnation of Lâo-Ȝze; but this paragraph is like the last, and cannot be received as genuine.
[2 ] This sentence is differently understood, according as it is punctuated;—, , or , . Each punctuation has its advocates. For myself, I can only adopt the former; the other is contrary to my idea of Chinese composition. If the author had wished to be understood so, he would have written differently, as, for instance, .
[1 ] Probably, the primary ether, what is called the Thâi Kih.
[2 ] This sentence is anticipatory.
[3 ] Into what we call the yin and the yang;—the same ether, now at rest, now in motion.
[4 ] The conferring of something more than what was material. By whom or what? By Heaven; the Tâoist understanding by that term the Tâo.
[5 ] So then, man consists of the material body and the immaterial spirit.
[6 ] The potential heaven and earth, not yet fashioned from the primal ether.
[1 ] This ‘Master’ is without doubt Confucius.
[2 ] The meaning and point of Confucius’s question are not clear. Did he mean to object to Lâo-ȝze that all his disquisitions about the Tâo as the one thing to be studied and followed were unnecessary?
[3 ] Compare in Bk. VII, par. 4.
[1 ] Their action is like that of Heaven, silent but most effective, without motive from within or without, simply from the impulse of the Tâo.
[2 ] These two men are only known by the mention of them here. They must have been officers of Lû, Kî Khêh a member of the great Kî or Kî-sun family of that state. He would appear also to have been the teacher of the other; if, indeed, they were real personages, and not merely the production of Kwang-ȝze’s imagination.
[3 ] That is any lessons or instructions from you, my master, which I should communicate to him.
[1 ] The Chinese phrase here is explained by Dr. Williams:—‘A vivifying influence, a vapour or aura producing things.’
[1 ] Confucius.
[1 ] The ‘arts of the Embryonic Age’ suggests the idea of the earliest men in their struggles for support; not the Tâo of Heaven in its formation of the universe. But the whole of the paragraph, not in itself uninteresting, is believed to be a spurious introduction, and not the production of Kwang-ȝze.
[2 ] These are not names of men, but like Yün Kiang and Hung Mung in the fifth paragraph of the last Book. By Kun Mâng, it is said, we are to understand ‘the great primal ether,’ and by Yüan Fung, ‘the east wind.’ Why these should discourse together as they are here made to do, only Kwang-ȝze himself could tell.
[1 ] Literally, ‘men with their cross eyes;’ an appellation for mankind, men having their eyes set across their face more on the same plane than other animals;—‘an extraordinary application of the characters,’ says Lin Hsî-kung.
[2 ] The text is simply ‘virtuous men;’ but the reply justifies us in giving the meaning as ‘kindly’ as well. has often this signification.
[1 ] When no human element had come in to mar the development of the Tâo.
[2 ] If these be the names of real personages, they must have been of the time of king Wû, about bc 1122.
[3 ] Generally understood to mean ‘He is not equal to the Lord of Yü,’ or Shun. The meaning which I have given is that propounded by Hû Wan-ying, and seems to agree better with the general purport of the paragraph.
[1 ] Ashamed that he had not been able to keep his father from getting sick, and requiring to be thus attended to.
[1 ] We can hardly tell whether this paragraph should be understood as a continuation of Khih-kang’s remarks, or as from Kwang-ȝze himself. The meaning here is that every one feels that this opinion is right, without pausing to reason about it.
[2 ] See the Yî King, Appendix III, ii, 15, where this letting his robes hang down is attributed to Shun. Ought we to infer from this that in this paragraph we have Khih-kang still speaking about and against the common opinion of Shun’s superiority to king Wû?
[1 ] The names of two songs, favourites with the common people.
[2 ] I shall only feel the more that I am alone without any to sympathise with me, and be the more sad.
[1 ] should perhaps be translated ‘a leper.’ The illustration is edited by Kiâo Hung and others as a paragraph by itself. They cannot tell whether it be intended to end the paragraph that precedes or to introduce the one that follows.
[2 ] This paragraph must be our author’s own. Khih-kang, of the time of king Wû, could not be criticising the schemes of life propounded by Mo and Yang, whose views were so much later in time. It breathes the animosity of Lâo and Kwang against all schemes of learning and culture, as contrary to the simplicity of life according to the Tâo.
[1 ] See pp. 144, 145.
[2 ] That is, its operation is universal. The Chinese critics generally explain ‘accumulation’ here by ‘rest,’ which is not quite the idea.
[3 ] Such is the meaning here of the , as in the Tâo Teh King, chaps. 2, 8, and often.
[1 ] here, is contracted in many editions into , which some have mistaken for .
[2 ] Such are the natural characteristics of the Tâoistic mind.
[3 ] Implying cessation from all thought and purpose.
[1 ] Compare in Bk. VI, pars. 13 and 7.
[2 ] They do not cease to be, but only become transformed or changed.
[1 ] I suppose that from ‘It is said’ to this is all quotation, but from what book we do not know.
[2 ] ‘The virtue,’ or attribute;=the way.
[1 ] ‘Three hosts’ constituted the military force of one of the largest states.
[2 ] The bow, the club, the spear, the lance, the javelin. Other enumerations of them are given. See the ‘Officers of Kâu,’ Bk. XXXII.
[1 ] Branding, cutting off the nose, cutting off the feet, castration, death.
[2 ] I read here (not ) .
[1 ] The meaning, probably, is ‘spontaneity.’
[1 ] We cannot tell what book or books.
[1 ] So, in the ‘Spring and Autumn’ Chronicle, the rightful reigning sovereign is ordinarily designated, ‘Heaven’s King.’ It is not a Tâoistic mode of speaking of him.
[2 ] It is supposed that Confucius, disappointed by his want of success, wished to deposit the writings or books which he prized so much in the Royal Library, that they might not be lost, and be available for some future teacher, more fortunate than himself.
[1 ] The name of the Royal Library (); meaning, perhaps, ‘Approved.’
[2 ] That is, help him to get his books deposited in the Library.
[3 ] Meaning, perhaps, the ‘Spring and Autumn,’ containing a chronicle of twelve marquises of Lû. We know of no collection in the time of Confucius which could be styled the ‘Twelve Classics.’
[4 ] is to be read shui.
[1 ] The unselfishness was not spontaneous.
[2 ] We know nothing of this personage, but what is related here; nor does the whole paragraph serve to advance the argument of the Book.
[1 ] These seem strange charges to bring against Lâo-ȝze, and no light is thrown on them from other sources.
[2 ] The change had been produced by the demeanour of Lâo-ȝze; the other could not tell how. Other explanations of the question are given by some of the critics.
[3 ] Compare in the first paragraph of Book VII.
[1 ] No doubt, Lâo-ȝze. In the ‘Complete Works of the Ten Philosophers,’ the text is and not .
[1 ] No doubt, duke Hwan of Khî, the first of the five presiding chiefs of the Kâu dynasty.
[2 ] See in Mencius I, i, vii, 4 a similar reference to the hall and the courtyard below it.
[1 ] Compare the story in Book III about the ruler Wăn-hui and his butcher; and other passages.
[1 ] See pp. 145, 146.
[2 ] Down to this we have a description of the phenomena of heaven and earth and of nature generally as proceeding regularly and noiselessly, without any apparent cause; which is the chief subject of the Book. As the description is not assigned to any one, we must suppose it to be from Kwang-ȝze himself; and that it is he who asks the question in the last three characters.
[1 ] This is said by the critics to have been a minister of the Shang dynasty, under Thâi-mâu in the seventeenth century bc; but even Kwang-ȝze would hardly so violate the unity of time.
[2 ] Generally means ‘the Five Regular Virtues;’ supposed to mean here ‘the Five Elements.’
[3 ] Probably the ‘Nine Divisions of the Great Plan,’ in the Shû King, V, iv, fancied to be derived from the writing, which a tortoise from the Lo river exhibited to the great Yü.
[4 ] Possibly Fû-hsî, Shăn Năng, and Hwang-Tî.
[5 ] ‘Shang’ must be taken as the duchy of Sung, assigned by king Wû to the representative of the kings of the dynasty of Shang. ‘Tang’ would be a principal minister of it in the time of Kwang-ȝze.
[6 ] The chief of all the virtues according to Confucianism.
[1 ] A denomination here for the Tâo, employed by Kwang-ȝze for the purpose of his argument.
[2 ] The capital of the state of Khû in the south.
[3 ] Name of a hill in the extreme north.
[4 ] The Tâo requires such forgetfulness on the part of both giver and receiver; it is a part of its ‘doing-nothing.’
[5 ] I think this is the meaning.
[1 ] The Tâo.
[2 ] This free version takes as = . So the Khang-hsî dictionary explains it.
[3 ] Only heard of, so far as I know, in this passage.
[4 ] The name of Hwang-Tî’s music; I do not venture to translate it. In his elaborate description of it, our author intended to give an idea of the Tâo, and the effect which the study of it was calculated to produce on the mind; as appears from the concluding sentence of the paragraph.
[1 ] See the usage of the two characters in the Shih King, I, ii, Ode 3.
[1 ] Some sovereign of antiquity, of whom it is difficult to find any other mention but this. Even in the Lû Shih I have not discovered him. The name is said to be pronounced Piâo; in which case it should consist of three , and not of three .
[2 ] Only heard of here.
[1 ] See the Tâo Teh King, ch. 5.
[2 ] Analects III, xxii.
[3 ] In consequence of the dissoluteness of the court; Analects VI, xxvi; IX, 17.
[4 ] Meaning Sung and Wei.
[5 ] Analects XI, ii, 1.
[1 ] It is impossible to speak definitely of who these three Hwangs (Augustuses) and five Tîs were, or whom the speaker intended by them. The former would seem to lead us to the purely fabulous ages, when twelve (or thirteen) Heavenly Hwangs, eleven Earthly, and nine Human ruled over the young world, for a period of 576,000 years. There is a general agreement of opinion that the five Tîs ended with Yâo and Shun.
[2 ] See Williams’s Dictionary, sub voc. He says it is the Crataegus cuneata and pinnatifida, common in China, and much esteemed for its acidity.
[1 ] A famous beauty,—the concubine of king Fû-khâi of Wû.
[2 ] The comparisons in this paragraph are not complimentary to Confucius. Of course the conversation never took place, and must have been made up to ridicule the views of the sage.
[3 ] This would be in bc 503 or 502, and Lâo-ȝze would be more than a hundred years old.
[4 ] Probably in what is now the district of Phei, department of Hsü-kâu, Kiang-sû.
[1 ] That is, the sage will not deposit it, where it will lie hidden;—compare Analects XVI, vi.
[1 ] See the same expression used in Book VI, par. 11, used by Confucius of himself. Comparing the two passages together, I must doubt the correctness of my note there (2, p. 252), that ‘Heaven’ is used in the Confucian sense of Tî, or God. The men here pursued and toiled after the pleasures of the world, rather than the quiet satisfactions of the Tâo.
[1 ] See Book XXIII, par. 9. The phrase = .
[2 ] The common reading is a mistake for .
[3 ] Compare the same illustration in the preceding Book, par. 7.
[4 ] This illustration is from Book VI, par. 5.
[1 ] Ȝze-kung would seem to have undertaken this expedition to maintain the reputation of the Master and his school;—only to be defeated by Lâo-ȝze more signally than Confucius had been.
[2 ] These are different probably, though the text is not quite certain, from the three Hwangs and five Tîs of par. 3. The Hwangs (or August Sovereigns) preceded the Tîs; the Kings (Wangs) came after them. The Three Kings are the three lines of kings commencing with the dynasty of Hsiâ, and following Shun. From the names mentioned by Ȝze-kung, we ought certainly so to understand the designation here.
[1 ] See note 2, preceding page.
[2 ] Referring to some abuses, contrary to the doctrine of relationship.
[1 ] What beast is meant here cannot be ascertained from the characters in the text,—.
[2 ] But with the preparation of the Khun Khiû Confucius’s life ended;—it is very plain that no conversation such as Kwang-ȝze has fabricated here could ever have taken place.
[1 ] Where had Lâo-ȝze or his author learned his zoology?
[1 ] See the Shih King, II, v, Ode II, 3, about the sphex.
[2 ] Because, as we say, ‘his nose is put out.’ But the sentiment, though it is ascribed to Confucius, is rarely according to the fact of the case.
[1 ] See pp. 146, 147.
[2 ] As did Shăn-thû Tî. See in Book VI, par. 3.
[1 ] This is probably the meaning. The text is simply:—‘Bearpassing, bird-stretching.’
[2 ] ‘It is said:’—where? and by whom? These questions we cannot answer. We have met indeed already with the same characteristics of the Tâo; but Kwang-ȝze is not likely to be quoting himself. On the ‘It is said,’ and the five recurrences of the phrase below, Lû Shû-kih says that Kwang-ȝze is quoting from sentences current among the adherents of Tâoism,—the sentence-makers often drawn on by Lâo-ȝze; compare the Tâo Teh King, ch. xli.
[1 ] See Book XIII, par. 2.
[1 ] Both of the seaboard states of Wû and Yüeh were famous for the swords produced in them. Kan-yüeh appears to have been the name of a valley or place in Wû, famous for the weapons made in it; unless indeed we should read , instead of , and take as equivalent to , which is found in the Ȝo Khwan as the name of Yüeh.
[2 ] Might be translated ‘the subtle spirit.’
[3 ] A very remarkable use of Tî () for the human spirit in the sense of God. The subject of the clause, let the reader observe, is that spirit, and not the Tâo. See pp. 146, 147, where I have said something about it.
[4 ] See the full account of ‘the True Man’ in Book VI.
[1 ] See pp. 147, 148.
[2 ] ‘Vulgar’ must mean ‘common,’ and ‘the vulgar learning’ is the teaching popular in the time of our author, and which he regarded as contrary to the principles of Tâoism, of which he was an adherent. The Chinese critics say that ‘vulgar’ here is used as the opposite of ‘true.’
[3 ] is generally explained by , ‘to confuse,’ but I cannot construe the sentence with that meaning of the term. In the Khang-hsî dictionary which I have followed, the character is defined by with special reference to this passage.
[4 ] This sentence is the clue to the author’s aim in the whole Book. The ‘knowledge’ is defined by , ‘the faculty of perception and apprehension.’
[1 ] These ‘men of old’ were what we may call ‘primeval men;’—men in the lowest stage of development; but which our author considered to be the highest or paradisiacal condition of their nature.
[1 ]Kwang-ȝze gives no hint of how long he considered this highest condition to have lasted. Sui-zăn, ‘the man of the Burning Speculum,’ ‘the Fire-producer,’ whom Williams calls ‘the Prometheus of China,’ appears before Fû-hsî, as the first in the line of the Rulers of the world, who broke up the Primal Unity.
[2 ] These were Yâo and Shun, named from the principalities over which their fathers ruled.
[3 ] ‘The streams’ were the methods of culture that arose after the simple virtues and spontaneity of the Tâo were lost.
[1 ] It is the same character in the text which I have been obliged to translate thus differently,—.
[1 ] That is, worldly distinction.
[2 ] Because they depend on others. Compare Mencius VI, i, ch. 17, 2.
[1 ] See pp. 148, 149.
[2 ] here perhaps means ‘turbid.’ It has nothing to do with the river King.
[3 ] See Mayers’s Manual, p. 54. Our author adopts the common beliefs or superstitions of his time, and after his fashion puts his own reasonings into the mouths of these mythological personages. It is more difficult to collect the legends about Zo of the sea, or of the Northern Sea. See the Khang-hsî Thesaurus under .
[1 ] Thus the Confucian learning and its worthies were to the system of the Tâo only as the waters of the Ho to the great sea.
[2 ] I have translated here as if the reading were , which is given by Lin Hsî-kung. The correct reading, however, so far as depends on editions and dictionaries, is ; which is explained in the Khang-hsî dictionary as ‘a great Rock in Fûsang on the East,’ against which the water of the sea collects, and is all evaporated!
[1 ] See Mencius II, ii, ch. 8, and I, ii, chaps. 10, 11, with the notes. is probably a mistake for .
[2 ] See the last narrative but one in the Ȝo Khwan, under the sixteenth year of duke Âi of Lû,—the year in which Confucius died. ‘The duke of Pâi’ was merely the chief of a district of Khû; but rebelling against the Ruler of the State, he was defeated, and strangled himself.
[1 ] Two of king Mu’s team of eight famous steeds.
[1 ] The khwei is ‘a sort of dragon (it may be, a worm) with one foot.’ The hsien has many feet; one account calls it ‘a centipede.’
[2 ] Such is the meaning of the lin or lien. The best commentators explain it by hsien (), ‘to covet and desire.’
[3 ] Compare Book I, par. 3, towards the end.
[1 ] The sagely man is ‘the True man,’ who embodies the Tâo. The Tâo has given to the khwei, the millipede, the serpent, and it may be said also to the wind, their means of progression and action. Nothing is said of the eye and the mind;—it was not necessary to dwell on the Tâo in them.
[2 ] See Confucian Analects, IX, v and XI, xxii. Our author’s account of this event is his own, constructed by him to convey his own Tâoistic lessons.
[1 ] No doubt the Yang Ho of Analects XVII, i.
[2 ] The grandson (Kung-sun) of one of the rulers of Kâo (one of the three states into which the great state of Ȝin had been broken up). He has come down to us as a philosophic sophist, whose views it is not easy to define. See Mayers’s Manual, p. 288, and Book XXXIII, par. 7.
[3 ] Wei was another of the divisions of Ȝin, and Mâu was one of the sons of its ruler at this time, a great admirer, evidently, of Kwang-ȝze, and more than a match for the sophist Lung.
[4 ] Holding, it is supposed, that ‘the attributes of material objects, such as hardness and colour, are separate existences:’—so Mayers, after Wylie.
[1 ] A passage difficult to construe.
[1 ] A different character from that for a millipede in the last paragraph;—a Shang Kü, evidently some small insect, but we cannot tell what.
[1 ] A city of Kâo, as Han-tan was its capital. Of the incident referred to, I have not been able to learn anything. The ‘were marched’ gives my idea of what it may have been.
[2 ] A river, which still gives its name to Phû-kâu, department Khao-kâu, Shan-tung.
[3 ] Probably king Wei, bc 339-330.
[4 ] A good antiquity for Khû!
[5 ] ? A species of Testudo Serpentina, such as is often seen on pieces of Japanese lacquer-ware.
[1 ] Another name for Wei, so called from its capital;—in the present department of Khâi-făng.
[2 ] So the critics explain the name. Williams thinks the bird may be ‘the argus pheasant,’ or ‘a variety of the peacock.’ But what the bird was does not affect the meaning of our author’s reference to it.
[3 ] One of the Eleococcae, the Dryandra Cordifolia of Thunberg.
[4 ] All the editions I have seen give here, which makes no sense. The character should doubtless be , with the meaning which I have given; and not ‘bamboo,’ which is found in the critics. It is also called ‘the Pride of India.’
[5 ] A river in the department and district of Fung-yang, An-hui.
[1 ] Surely a captious question. We infer the feelings of other creatures from their demonstrations.