Hsiâo-yâo Yû, or 'Enjoyment in Untroubled Ease.'
1. In the Northern Ocean there is a fish, the name of which is Khwan,-- I do not know how many lî in size. It changes into a bird with the name of Phang, the back of which is (also)-- I do not know how many lî in extent. When this bird rouses itself and flies, its wings are like clouds all round the sky. When the sea is moved (so as to bear it along), it prepares to remove to the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is the Pool of Heaven.
There is the (book called) Khî Hsieh,-- a record of marvels. We have in it these words:-- 'When the phang is removing to the Southern Ocean it flaps (its wings) on the water for 3000 lî. Then it ascends on a whirlwind 90,000 lî, and it rests only at the end of six months.' (But similar to this is the movement of the breezes which we call) the horses of the fields, of the dust (which quivers in the sunbeams), and of living things as they are blown against one another by the air. Is its azure the proper colour of the sky? Or is it occasioned by its distance and illimitable extent? If one were looking down (from above), the very same appearance would just meet his view.
2. And moreover, (to speak of) the accumulation of water;-- if it be not great, it will not have strength to support a large boat. Upset a cup of water in a cavity, and a straw will float on it as if it were a boat. Place a cup in it, and it will stick fast;-- the water is shallow and the boat is large. (So it is with) the accumulation of wind; if it be not great, it will not have strength to support great wings. Therefore (the phang ascended to) the height of 90,000 lî, and there was such a mass of wind beneath it; thenceforth the accumulation of wind was sufficient. As it seemed to bear the blue sky on its back, and there was nothing to obstruct or arrest its course, it could pursue its way to the South.
A cicada and a little dove laughed at it, saying, 'We make an effort and fly towards an elm or sapanwood tree; and sometimes before we reach it, we can do no more but drop to the ground. Of what use is it for this (creature) to rise 90,000 lî, and make for the South?' He who goes to the grassy suburbs, returning to the third meal (of the day), will have his belly as full as when he set out; he who goes to a distance of 100 lî will have to pound his grain where he stops for the night; he who goes a thousand lî, will have to carry with him provisions for three months. What should these two small creatures know about the matter? The knowledge of that which is small does not reach to that which is great; (the experience of) a few years does not reach to that of many. How do we know that it is so? The mushroom of a morning does not know (what takes place between) the beginning and end of a month; the short-lived cicada does not know (what takes place between) the spring and autumn. These are instances of a short term of life. In the south of Khû there is the (tree) called Ming-ling, whose spring is 500 years, and its autumn the same; in high antiquity there was that called Tâ-khun, whose spring was 8000 years, and its autumn the same. And Phang Tsu is the one man renowned to the present day for his length of life:-- if all men were (to wish) to match him, would they not be miserable?
3. In the questions put by Thang to Kî we have similar statements:-- 'In the bare and barren north there is the dark and vast ocean,-- the Pool of Heaven. In it there is a fish, several thousand lî in breadth, while no one knows its length. Its name is the khwan. There is (also) a bird named the phang; its back is like the Thâi mountain, while its wings are like clouds all round the sky. On a whirlwind it mounts upwards as on the whorls of a goat's horn for 90,000 lî, till, far removed from the cloudy vapours, it bears on its back the blue sky, and then it shapes its course for the South, and proceeds to the ocean there.' A quail by the side of a marsh laughed at it, and said, 'Where is it going to? I spring up with a bound, and come down again when I have reached but a few fathoms, and then fly about among the brushwood and bushes; and this is the perfection of flying. Where is that creature going to?' This shows the difference between the small and the great.
Thus it is that men, whose wisdom is sufficient for the duties of some one office, or whose conduct will secure harmony in some one district, or whose virtue is befitting a ruler so that they could efficiently govern some one state, are sure to look on themselves in this manner (like the quail), and yet Yung-tsze of Sung would have smiled and laughed at them. (This Yung-tsze), though the whole world should have praised him, would not for that have stimulated himself to greater endeavour, and though the whole world should have condemned him, would not have exercised any more repression of his course; so fixed was he in the difference between the internal (judgment of himself) and the external (judgment of others), so distinctly had he marked out the bounding limit of glory and disgrace. Here, however, he stopped. His place in the world indeed had become indifferent to him, but still he had not planted himself firmly (in the right position).
There was Lieh-tsze, who rode on the wind and pursued his way, with an admirable indifference (to all external things), returning, however, after fifteen days, (to his place). In regard to the things that (are supposed to) contribute to happiness, he was free from all endeavours to obtain them; but though he had not to walk, there was still something for which he had to wait. But suppose one who mounts on (the ether of) heaven and earth in its normal operation, and drives along the six elemental energies of the changing (seasons), thus enjoying himself in the illimitable,-- what has he to wait for? Therefore it is said, 'The Perfect man has no (thought of) self; the Spirit-like man, none of merit; the Sagely-minded man, none of fame.'