The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 24 (cont.): Hsü Wû-kwei

Chuang Tzu

Hsü Wû-kwei. (cont.)

3. Hwang-Tî was going to see Tâ-kwei at the hill of Kü-Tshze. Fang Ming was acting as charioteer, and Khang Yü was occupying the third place in the carriage. Kang Zo and Hsî Phang went before the horses; and Khwan Hwun and Kû Khî followed the carriage. When they arrived at the wild of Hsiang-khang, the seven sages were all perplexed, and could find no place at which to ask the way. just then they met with a boy tending some horses, and asked the way of him. 'Do you know,' they said, 'the hill of Kü-tshze?' and he replied that he did. He also said that he knew where Tâ-kwei was living. 'A strange boy is this!' said Hwang-Tî. 'He not only knows the hill of Kü-tshze, but he also knows where Tâ-kwei is living. Let me ask him about the government of mankind.' The boy said, 'The administration of the kingdom is like this (which I am doing);-- what difficulty should there be in it? When I was young, I enjoyed myself roaming over all within the six confines of the world of space, and then I began to suffer from indistinct sight. A wise elder taught me, saying, "Ride in the chariot of the sun, and roam in the wild of Hsiang-Khang." Now the trouble in my eyes is a little better, and I am again enjoying myself roaming outside the six confines of the world of space. As to the government of the kingdom, it is like this (which I am doing);-- what difficulty should there be in it?' Hwang-Tî said, 'The administration of the world is indeed not your business, my son; nevertheless, I beg to ask you about it.' The little lad declined to answer, but on Hwang-Tî putting the question again, he said, 'In what does the governor of the kingdom differ from him who has the tending of horses, and who has only to put away whatever in him would injure the horses?'

Hwang-Tî bowed to him twice with his head to the ground, called him his 'Heavenly Master,' and withdrew.

4. If officers of wisdom do not see the changes which their anxious thinking has suggested, they have no joy; if debaters are not able to set forth their views in orderly style, they have no joy; if critical examiners find no subjects on which to exercise their powers of vituperation, they have no joy:-- they are all hampered by external restrictions.

Those who try to attract the attention of their age (wish to) rise at court; those who try to win the regard of the people count holding office a glory; those who possess muscular strength boast of doing what is difficult; those who are bold and daring exert themselves in times of calamity; those who are able swordmen and spearmen delight in fighting; those whose powers are decayed seek to rest in the name (they have gained); those who are skilled in the laws seek to enlarge the scope of government; those who are proficient in ceremonies and music pay careful attention to their deportment; and those who profess benevolence and righteousness value opportunities (for displaying them).

The husbandmen who do not keep their fields well weeded are not equal to their business, nor are traders who do not thrive in the markets. When the common people have their appropriate employment morning and evening, they stimulate one another to diligence; the mechanics who are masters of their implements feel strong for their work. If their wealth does not increase, the greedy are distressed; if their power and influence is not growing, the ambitious are sad.

Such creatures of circumstance and things delight in changes, and if they meet with a time when they can show what they can do, they cannot keep themselves from taking advantage of it. They all pursue their own way like (the seasons of) the year, and do not change as things do. They give the reins to their bodies and natures, and allow themselves to sink beneath (the pressure of) things, and all their lifetime do not come back (to their proper selves) is it not sad?

5. Kwang-tsze said, 'An archer, without taking aim beforehand, yet may hit the mark. If we say that he is a good archer, and that all the world may be Îs, is this allowable?' Hui-tsze replied, 'It is.' Kwang-tsze continued, 'All men do not agree in counting the same thing to be right, but every one maintains his own view to be right; (if we say) that all men may be Yâos, is this allowable?' Hui-tsze (again) replied, 'It is;' and Kwang-tsze went on, 'Very well; there are the literati, the followers of Mo (Tî), of Yang (Kû), and of Ping;-- making four (different schools). Including yourself, Master, there are five. Which of your views is really right? Or will you take the position of Lû Kü? One of his disciples said to him, "Master, I have got hold of your method. I can in winter heat the furnace under my tripod, and in summer can produce ice." Lû Kü said, "That is only with the Yang element to call out the same, and with the Yin to call out the yin;-- that is not my method. I will show you what my method is." On this he tuned two citherns, placing one of them in the hall, and the other in one of the inner apartments. Striking the note Kung in the one, the same note vibrated in the other, and so it was with the note Kio; the two instruments being tuned in the same way. But if he had differently tuned them on other strings different from the normal arrangement of the five notes, the five-and-twenty strings would all have vibrated, without any difference of their notes, the note to which he had tuned them ruling and guiding all the others. Is your maintaining your view to be right just like this?'

Hui-tsze replied, 'Here now are the literati, and the followers of Mo, Yang, and Ping. Suppose that they have come to dispute with me. They put forth their conflicting statements; they try vociferously to put me down; but none of them have ever proved me wrong:-- what do you say to this?' Kwang-tsze said, 'There was a man of Khî who cast away his son in Sung to be a gatekeeper there, and thinking nothing of the mutilation he would incur; the same man, to secure one of his sacrificial vessels or bells, would have it strapped and secured, while to find his son who was lost, he would not go out of the territory of his own state:-- so forgetful was he of the relative importance of things. If a man of Khû, going to another state as a lame gate-keeper, at midnight, at a time when no one was nigh, were to fight with his boatman, he would not be abie to reach the shore, and he would have done what he could to provoke the boatman's animosity.'