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.)

12. Yen Hui asked Kung-nî, saying, 'When the mother of Mang-sun Tshâi died, in all his wailing for her he did not shed a tear; in the core of his heart he felt no distress; during all the mourning rites, he exhibited no sorrow. Without these three things, he (was considered to have) discharged his mourning well;-- is it that in the state of Lû one who has not the reality may yet get the reputation of having it? I think the matter very strange.' Kung-nî said, 'That Mang-sun carried out (his views) to the utmost. He was advanced in knowledge; but (in this case) it was not possible for him to appear to be negligent (in his ceremonial observances)', but he succeeded in being really so to himself. Mang-sun does not know either what purposes life serves, or what death serves; he does not know which should be first sought, and which last. If he is to be transformed into something else, he will simply await the transformation which he does not yet know. This is all he does. And moreover, when one is about to undergo his change, how does he know that it has not taken place? And when he is not about to undergo his change, how does he know that it has taken place? Take the case of me and you:-- are we in a dream from which we have not begun to awake?

'Moreover, Mang-sun presented in his body the appearance of being agitated, but in his mind he was conscious of no loss. The death was to him like the issuing from one's dwelling at dawn, and no (more terrible) reality. He was more awake than others were. When they wailed, he also wailed, having in himself the reason why he did so. And we all have our individuality which makes us what we are as compared together; but how do we know that we determine in any case correctly that individuality? Moreover you dream that you are a bird, and seem to be soaring to the sky; or that you are a fish, and seem to be diving in the deep. But you do not know whether we that are now speaking are awake or in a dream. It is not the meeting with what is pleasurable that produces the smile; it is not the smile suddenly produced that produces the arrangement (of the person). When one rests in what has been arranged, and puts away all thought of the transformation, he is in unity with the mysterious Heaven.'

13. Î-r Tsze having gone to see Hsü Yü, the latter said to him, 'What benefit have you received from Yâo?' The reply was, 'Yâo says to me, You must yourself labour at benevolence and righteousness, and be able to tell clearly which is right and which wrong (in conflicting statements).' Hsü Yû rejoined, 'Why then have you come to me? Since Yâo has put on you the brand of his benevolence and righteousness, and cut off your nose with his right and wrong, how will you be able to wander in the way of aimless enjoyment, of unregulated contemplation, and the ever-changing forms (of dispute)?' Î-r Tsze said, 'That may be; but I should like to skirt along its hedges.' 'But,' said the other, 'it cannot be. Eyes without pupils can see nothing of the beauty of the eyebrows, eyes, and other features; the blind have nothing to do with the green, yellow, and variegated colours of the sacrificial robes.' Î-r Tsze rejoined, 'Yet, when Wû-kwang lost his beauty, Kü-liang his strength, and Hwang-Tî his wisdom, they all (recovered them) under the moulding (of your system);-- how do you know that the Maker will not obliterate the marks of my branding, and supply my dismemberment, so that, again perfect in my form, I may follow you as my teacher?' Hsü Yû said, 'Ah! that cannot yet be known. I will tell you the rudiments. 0 my Master! 0 my Master! He gives to all things their blended qualities, and does not count it any righteousness; His favours reach to all generations, and He does not count it any benevolence; He is more ancient than the highest antiquity, and does not count Himself old; He overspreads heaven and supports the earth; He carves and fashions all bodily forms, and does not consider it any act of skill;-- this is He in whom I find my enjoyment.'

14. Yen Hui said, 'I am making progress.' Kung-nî replied, 'What do you mean?' 'I have ceased to think of benevolence and righteousness,' was the reply. 'Very well; but that is not enough.'

Another day, Hui again saw Kung-nî, and said, 'I am making progress.' 'What do you mean?' 'I have lost all thought of ceremonies and music.' 'Very well, but that is not enough.'

A third day, Hui again saw (the Master), and said, 'I am making progress.' 'What do you mean?' 'I sit and forget everything.' Kung-nî changed countenance, and said, 'What do you mean by saying that you sit and forget (everything)?' Yen Hui replied, 'My connexion with the body and its parts is dissolved; my perceptive organs are discarded. Thus leaving my material form, and bidding farewell to my knowledge, I am become one with the Great Pervader. This I call sitting and forgetting all things.' Kung-nî said, 'One (with that Pervader), you are free from all likings; so transformed, you are become impermanent. You have, indeed, become superior to me! I must ask leave to follow in your steps.'

15. Tsze-yü and Tsze-sang were friends. (Once), when it had rained continuously for ten days, Tsze-yü said, 'I fear that Tsze-sang may be in distress.' So he wrapped up some rice, and went to give it to him to eat. When he came to Tsze-sang's door, there issued from it sounds between singing and wailing; a lute was struck, and there came the words, '0 Father! 0 Mother! 0 Heaven! 0 Men!' The voice could not sustain itself, and the line was hurriedly pronounced. Tsze-yü entered and said, 'Why are you singing, Sir, this line of poetry in such a way?' The other replied, 'I was thinking, and thinking in vain, how it was that I was brought to such extremity. Would my parents have wished me to be so poor? Heaven overspreads all without any partial feeling, and so does Earth sustain all;-- Would Heaven and Earth make me so poor with any unkindly feeling? I was trying to find out who had done it, and I could not do so. But here I am in this extremity!-- it is what was appointed for me!'