Teh Khung Fû, or 'The Seal of Virtue Complete.' (cont.)
3. In Lû there was a cripple, called Shû-shan the Toeless, who came on his heels to see Kung-nî. Kung-nî said to him, 'By your want of circumspection in the past, Sir, you have incurred such a calamity;-- of what use is your coming to me now?' Toeless said, 'Through my ignorance of my proper business and taking too little care of my body, I came to lose my feet. But now I am come to you, still possessing what is more honourable than my feet, and which therefore I am anxious to preserve entire. There is nothing which Heaven does not cover, and nothing which Earth does not sustain; you, Master, were regarded by me as doing the part of Heaven and Earth;-- how could I know that you would receive me in such a way?' Confucius rejoined, 'I am but a poor creature. But why, my master, do you not come inside, where I will try to tell you what I have learned?' When Toeless had gone out, Confucius said, 'Be stimulated to effort, my disciples. This toeless cripple is still anxious to learn to make up for the evil of his former conduct;-- how much more should those be so whose conduct has been unchallenged!'
Mr. Toeless, however, told Lâo Tan (of the interview), saying, 'Khung Khiû, I apprehend, has not yet attained to be a Perfect man. What has he to do with keeping a crowd of disciples around him? He is seeking to have the reputation of being an extraordinary and marvellous man, and does not know that the Perfect man considers this to be as handcuffs and fetters to him.' Lâo Tan said, 'Why did you not simply lead him to see the unity of life and death, and that the admissible and inadmissible belong to one category, so freeing him from his fetters? Would this be possible?' Toeless said, 'It is the punishment inflicted on him by Heaven. How can he be freed from it?'
4. Duke Âi of Lû asked Kung-nî, saying, 'There was an ugly man in Wei, called Ai-thâi Tho. His father-in-law, who lived with him, thought so much of him that he could not be away from him. His wife, when she saw him (ugly as he was), represented to her parents, saying, "I had more than ten times rather be his concubine than the wife of any other man." He was never heard to take the lead in discussion, but always seemed to be of the same opinion with others. He had not the position of a ruler, so as to be able to save men from death. He had no revenues, so as to be able to satisfy men's craving for food. He was ugly enough, moreover, to scare the whole world. He agreed with men instead of trying to lead them to adopt his views; his knowledge did not go beyond his immediate neighbourhood. And yet his father-in-law and his wife were of one mind about him in his presence (as I have said);-- he must have been different from other men. I called him, and saw him. Certainly he was ugly enough to scare the whole world. He had not lived with me, however, for many months, when I was drawn to the man; and before he had been with me a full year, I had confidence in him. The state being without a chief minister, I (was minded) to commit the government to him. He responded to my proposal sorrowfully, and looked undecided as if he would fain have declined it. I was ashamed of myself (as inferior to him), but finally gave the government into his hands. In a little time, however, he left me and went away. I was sorry and felt that I had sustained a loss, and as if there were no other to share the pleasures of the kingdom with me. What sort of man was he?'
Kung-nî said, 'Once when I was sent on a mission to Khû, I saw some pigs sucking at their dead mother. After a little they looked with rapid glances, when they all left her, and ran away. They felt that she did not see them, and that she was no longer like themselves. What they had loved in their mother was not her bodily figure, but what had given animation to her figure. When a man dies in battle, they do not at his interment employ the usual appendages of plumes: as to supplying shoes to one who has lost his feet, there is no reason why he should care for them;-- in neither case is there the proper reason for their use. The members of the royal harem do not pare their nails nor pierce their ears; when a man is newly married, he remains (for a time) absent from his official duties, and unoccupied with them. That their bodies might be perfect was sufficient to make them thus dealt with;-- how much greater results should be expected from men whose mental gifts are perfect! This Âi-thâi Tho was believed by men, though he did not speak a word; and was loved by them, though he did no special service for them. He made men appoint him to the government of their states, afraid only that he would not accept the appointment. He must have been a man whose powers were perfect, though his realisation of them was not manifested in his person.
Duke Âi said, 'What is meant by saying that his powers were complete?' Kung-nî replied, 'Death and life, preservation and ruin, failure and success, poverty and wealth, superiority and inferiority, blame and praise, hunger and thirst, cold and heat;-- these are the changes of circumstances, the operation of our appointed lot. Day and night they succeed to one another before us, but there is no wisdom able to discover to what they owe their origination. They are not sufficient therefore to disturb the harmony (of the nature), and are not allowed to enter into the treasury of intelligence. To cause this harmony and satisfaction ever to be diffused, while the feeling of pleasure is not lost from the mind; to allow no break to arise in this state day or night, so that it is always spring-time in his relations with external things; in all his experiences to realise in his mind what is appropriate to each season (of the year):-- these are the characteristics of him whose powers are perfect.'
'And what do you mean by the realisation of these powers not being manifested in the person?' (pursued further the duke). The reply was, 'There is nothing so level as the surface of a pool of still water. It may serve as an example of what I mean. All within its circuit is preserved (in peace), and there comes to it no agitation from without. The virtuous efficacy is the perfect cultivation of the harmony (of the nature). Though the realisation of this be not manifested in the person, things cannot separate themselves (from its influence).'
Some days afterwards duke Âi told this conversation to Min-tsze, saying, 'Formerly it seemed to me the work of the sovereign to stand in court with his face to the south, to rule the kingdom, and to pay good heed to the accounts of the people concerned, lest any should come to a (miserable) death;-- this I considered to be the sum (of his duty). Now that I have heard that description of the Perfect man, I fear that my idea is not the real one, and that, by employing myself too lightly, I may cause the ruin of my state. I and Khung Khiû are not on the footing of ruler and subject, but on that of a virtuous friendship.'