The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 32: Lieh Yü-khâu

Chuang Tzu

Lieh Yü-khâu.

1. Lieh Yü-khâu had started to go to Khî, but came back when he was half-way to it. He met Po-hwan Wû-zan, who said, 'Why have you come back?' His reply was, 'I was frightened.' 'What frightened you?' 'I went into ten soup-shops to get a meal, and in five of them the soup was set before me before (I had paid for it).' 'But what was there in that to frighten you?' (Lieh-tsze) said, 'Though the inward and true purpose be not set forth, the body like a spy gives some bright display of it. And this outward demonstration overawes men's minds, and makes men on light grounds treat one as noble or as aged, from which evil to him will be produced. Now vendors of soup supply their commodity simply as a matter of business, and however much they may dispose of, their profit is but little, and their power is but slight; and yet they treated me as I have said:-- how much more would the lord of ten thousand chariots do so! His body burdened with (the cares of his) kingdom, and his knowledge overtasked by its affairs, he would entrust those affairs to me, and exact from me the successful conduct (of its government). It was this which frightened me.' Po-hwan Wû-zan replied, 'Admirable perspicacity! But if you carry yourself as you do, men will flock to you for protection.'

Not long after, Po-hwan Wû-zan went (to visit Lieh-tsze), and found the space outside his door full of shoes. There he stood with his face to the north, holding his staff upright, and leaning his chin on it till the skin was wrinkled. After standing so for some time, and without saying a word, he was going away, when the door-keeper went in, and told Lieh-tsze. The latter (immediately) took up his shoes, and ran barefoot after the visitor. When he overtook him at the (outer) gate, he said, 'Since you, Sir, have come, are you going away without giving me some medicine?' The other replied, 'It is of no use. I did tell you that men would flock to you, and they do indeed do so. It is not that you can cause men to flock to you, but you cannot keep them from not so coming;-- of what use is (all my warning)? What influences them and makes them glad is the display of your extraordinary (qualities); but you must also be influenced in your turn, and your proper nature be shaken, and no warning can be addressed to you. Those who associate with you do not admonish you of this. The small words which they speak are poison to a man. You perceive it not; you understand it not;-- how can you separate yourself from them?

'The clever toil on, and the wise are sad. Those who are without ability seek for nothing. They eat to the full, and wander idly about. They drift like a vessel loosed from its moorings, and aimlessly wander about.'

2. A man of Kang, called Hwan, learned his books in the neighbourhood of Khiû-shih, and in no longer time than three years became a Confucian scholar, benefiting the three classes of his kindred as the Ho extends its enriching influence for nine lî. He made his younger brother study (the principles of) Mo, and then they two-- the scholar and the Mohist-- disputed together (about their respective systems), and the father took the side of the younger. After ten years Hwan killed himself. (By and by) he appeared to his father in a dream, saying, 'It was I who made your son become a Mohist; why did You not recognise that good service? I am become (but) the fruit of a cypress in autumn.' But the Creator, in apportioning the awards of men, does not recompense them for their own doings, but recompenses them for the (use of the) Heavenly in them. It was thus that Hwan's brother was led to learn Mohism. When this Hwan thought that it was he who had made his brother different from what he would have been, and proceeded to despise his father, he was like the people of Khî, who, while they drank from a well, tried to keep one another from it. Hence it is said, 'Now-a-days all men are Hwans.' From this we perceive that those who possess the characteristics (of the Tâo) consider that they do not know them; how much more is it so with those who possess the Tâo itself! The ancients called such (as Hwan) 'men who had escaped the punishment of Heaven.'

3. The sagely man rests in what is his proper rest; he does not rest in what is not so;-- the multitude of men rest in what is not their proper rest; they do not rest in their proper rest.

4. Kwang-tsze said, 'To know the Tâo is easy; not to say (that you know it) is difficult. To know it and not to speak of it is the way to attain to the Heavenly; to know and to speak of it, is the way to show the Human. The ancients pursued the Heavenly (belonging to them), and not the Human.'

5. Kû Phing-man learned how to slaughter the dragon from Kih-lî Yî, expending (in doing so) all his wealth of a thousand ounces of silver. In three years he became perfect in the art, but he never exercised his skill.

6. The sage looks on what is deemed necessary as unnecessary, and therefore is not at war (in himself). The mass of men deem what is unnecessary to be necessary, and therefore they are often at war (in themselves). Therefore those who pursue this method of (internal) war, resort to it in whatever they seek for. But reliance on such war leads to ruin.

7. The wisdom of the small man does not go beyond (the minutiae of) making presents and writing memoranda, wearying his spirits out in what is trivial and mean. But at the same time he wishes to aid in guiding to (the secret of) the Tâo and of (all) things in the incorporeity of the Grand Unity. In this way he goes all astray in regard to (the mysteries of) space and time. The fetters of embodied matter keep him from the knowledge of the Grand Beginning. (On the other hand), the perfect man directs the energy of his spirit to what was before the Beginning, and finds pleasure in the mysteriousness belonging to the region of nothingness. He is like the water which flows on without the obstruction of matter, and expands into the Grand Purity.

Alas for what you do, (0 men)! You occupy yourselves with things trivial as a hair, and remain ignorant of the Grand Rest!

8. There was a man of Sung, called Tshâo Shang, who was sent by the king of Sung on a mission to Khin. On setting out, he had several carriages with him; and the king (of Khin) was so pleased with him that he gave him another hundred. When he returned to Sung, he saw Kwang-tsze, and said to him, 'To live in a narrow lane of a poor mean hamlet, wearing sandals amid distress of poverty, with a weazen neck and yellow face;-- that is what I should find it difficult to do. But as soon as I come to an understanding with the Lord of a myriad carriages, to find myself with a retinue of a hundred carriages,-- that is wherein I excel.' Kwang-tsze replied, 'When the king of Khan is ill, the doctor whom he calls to open an ulcer or squeeze a boil receives a carriage; and he who licks his piles receives five. The lower the service, the more are the carriages given. Did you, Sir, lick his piles? How else should you have got so many carriages? Begone!'