The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 6 (cont.): The Great and Most Honored Master

Chuang Tzu

Tâ Tsung Shih, or 'The Great and Most Honored Master.' (cont.)

5. In this way they were one and the same in all their likings and dislikings. Where they liked, they were the same; where they did not like, they were the same. In the former case where they liked, they were fellow-workers with the Heavenly (in them); in the latter where they disliked, they were co-workers with the Human in them. The one of these elements (in their nature) did not overcome the other. Such were those who are called the True men.

Death and life are ordained, just as we have the constant succession of night and day;-- in both cases from Heaven. Men have no power to do anything in reference to them;-- such is the constitution of things. There are those who specially regard Heaven as their father, and they still love It (distant as It is);-- how much more should they love That which stands out (Superior and Alone)! Some specially regard their ruler as superior to themselves, and will give their bodies to die for him; how much more should they do so for That which is their true (Ruler)! When the springs are dried up, the fishes collect together on the land. Than that they should moisten one another there by the damp about them, and keep one another wet by their slime, it would be better for them to forget one another in the rivers and lakes. And when men praise Yâo and condemn Kieh, it would be better to forget them both, and seek the renovation of the Tâo.

6. There is the great Mass (of nature);-- I find the support of my body on it; my life is spent in toil on it; my old age seeks ease on it; at death I find rest in it;-- what makes my life a good makes my death also a good. If you hide away a boat in the ravine of a hill, and hide away the hill in a lake, you will say that (the boat) is secure; but at midnight there shall come a strong man and carry it off on his back, while you in the dark know nothing about it. You may hide away anything, whether small or great, in the most suitable place, and yet it shall disappear from it. But if you could hide the world in the world, so that there was nowhere to which it could be removed, this would be the grand reality of the ever-during Thing. When the body of man comes from its special mould, there is even then occasion for joy; but this body undergoes a myriad transformations, and does not immediately reach its perfection;-- does it not thus afford occasion for joys incalculable? Therefore the sagely man enjoys himself in that from which there is no possibility of separation, and by which all things are preserved. He considers early death or old age, his beginning and his ending, all to be good, and in this other men imitate him;-- how much more will they do so in regard to That Itself on which all things depend, and from which every transformation arises!

7. This is the Tâo;-- there is in It emotion and sincerity, but It does nothing and has no bodily form. It may be handed down (by the teacher), but may not be received (by his scholars). It may be apprehended (by the mind), but It cannot be seen. It has Its root and ground (of existence) in Itself. Before there were heaven and earth, from of old, there It was, securely existing. From It came the mysterious existences of spirits, from It the mysterious existence of God. It produced heaven; It produced earth. It was before the Thâi-kî, and yet could not be considered high; It was below all space, and yet could not be considered deep. It was produced before heaven and earth, and yet could not be considered to have existed long; It was older than the highest antiquity, and yet could not be considered old.

Shih-wei got It, and by It adjusted heaven and earth. Fû-hsî got It, and by It penetrated to the mystery of the maternity of the primary matter. The Wei-tâu got It, and from all antiquity has made no eccentric movement. The Sun and Moon got It, and from all antiquity have not intermitted (their bright shining). Khan-pei got It, and by It became lord of Khwan-lun. Fang-î got It, and by It enjoyed himself in the Great River. Kien Wû got It, and by It dwelt on mount Thâi. Hwang-Tî got It, and by It ascended the cloudysky. Kwan-hsü got It, and by It dwelt in the Dark Palace. Yü-khiang got It, and by It was set on the North Pole. Hsî Wang-mû got It, and by It had her seat in (the palace of) Shâo-kwang. No one knows Its beginning; no one knows Its end. Phang Tsû got It, and lived on from the time of the lord of Yü to that of the Five Chiefs. Fû Yüeh got It, and by It became chief minister to Wû-ting, (who thus) in a trice became master of the kingdom. (After his death), Fû Yüeh mounted to the eastern portion of the Milky Way, where, riding on Sagittarius and Scorpio, he took his place among the stars.

8. Nan-po Tsze-khwei asked Nü Yü, saying, 'You are old, Sir, while your complexion is like that of a child;-- how is it so?' The reply was, 'I have become acquainted with the Tâo.' The other said, 'Can I learn the Tâo?' Nü Yü said, 'No. How can you? You, Sir, are not the man to do so. There was Pû-liang Î who had the abilities of a sagely man, but not the Tâo, while I had the Tâo, but not the abilities. I wished, however, to teach him, if, peradventure, he might become the sagely man indeed. If he should not do so, it was easy (I thought) for one possessing the TAo of the sagely man to communicate it to another possessing his abilities. Accordingly, I proceeded to do so, but with deliberation. After three days, he was able to banish from his mind all worldly (matters). This accomplished, I continued my intercourse with him in the same way; and in seven days he was able to banish from his mind all thought of men and things. This accomplished, and my instructions continued, after nine days, he was able to count his life as foreign to himself. This accomplished, his mind was afterwards clear as the morning; and after this he was able to see his own individuality. That individuality perceived, he was able to banish all thought of Past or Present. Freed from this, he was able to penetrate to (the truth that there is no difference between) life and death;-- (how) the destruction of life is not dying, and the communication of other life is not living. (The Tâo) is a thing which accompanies all other things and meets them, which is present when they are overthrown and when they obtain their completion. Its name is Tranquillity amid all Disturbances, meaning that such Disturbances lead to Its Perfection.'

'And how did you, being alone (without any teacher), learn all this?' 'I learned it,' was the reply, 'from the son of Fû-mo; he learned it from the grandson of Lo-sung; he learned it from Shan-ming; he learned it from Nieh-hsü; he, from Hsü-yî; he, from Wû-âo; he, from Hsüan-ming; he, from Tshan-liâo; and he learned it from Î-shih.'