The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 32 (cont.): Lieh Yü-khâu

Chuang Tzu

Lieh Yü-khâu. (cont.)

9. Duke Âi of Lû asked Yen Ho, saying, 'If I employ Kung-nî as the support of my government, will the evils of the state be thereby cured?' The reply was, '(Such a measure) would be perilous! It would be full of hazard! Kung-nî, moreover, will try to ornament a feather and paint it; in the conduct of affairs he uses flowery speeches. A (mere) branch is to him more admirable (than the root); he can bear to misrepresent their nature in instructing the people, and is not conscious of the unreality of his words. He receives (his inspiration) from his own mind, and rules his course from his own spirit:-- what fitness has he to be set over the people? Is such a man suitable for you (as your minister)? Could you give to him the nourishment (of the people)? You would do so by mistake (but not on purpose, for a time, but not as a permanency). To make the people leave what is real, and learn what is hypocritical-- that is not the proper thing to be shown to them; if you take thought for future ages, your better plan will be to give up (the idea of employing Confucius). What makes government difficult, is the dealing with men without forgetting yourself; this is not according to the example of Heaven in diffusing its benefits. Merchants and traffickers are not to be ranked (with administrative officers) if on an occasion you so rank them, the spirits (of the people) do not acquiesce in your doing so. The instruments of external punishment are made of metal and wood; those of internal punishment are agitation (of the mind) and (the sense of) transgression. When small men become subject to the external punishment, the (instruments of) metal and wood deal with them; when they become liable to the internal punishments, the Yin and Yang consume them. It is only the true man who can escape both from the external and internal punishment.'

10. Confucius said, 'The minds of men are more difficult of approach than (the position defended by) mountains and rivers, and more difficult to know than Heaven itself. Heaven has its periods of spring and autumn, of winter and summer, and of morning and evening; but man's exterior is thickly veiled, and his feelings lie deep. Thus the demeanour of some is honest-like, and yet they go to excess (in what is mean); others are really gifted, and yet look to be without ability; some seem docile and impressible, but yet they have far-reaching schemes; others look firm, and yet may be twisted about; others look slow, and yet they are hasty. In this way those who hasten to do what is right as if they were thirsty will anon hurry away from it as if it were fire. Hence the superior man looks at them when employed at a distance to test their fidelity, and when employed near at hand to test their reverence. By employing them on difficult services, he tests their ability; by questioning them suddenly, he tests their knowledge; by appointing them a fixed time, he tests their good faith; by entrusting them with wealth, he tests their benevolence; by telling them of danger, he tests their self-command in emergencies; by making them drunk, he tests their tendencies; by placing them in a variety of society, he tests their chastity:-- by these nine tests the inferior man is discovered.'

11. When Khâo-fû, the Correct, received the first grade of official rank, he walked with head bowed down; on receiving the second, with bent back; on receiving the third, with body stooping, he ran and hurried along the wall:-- who would presume not to take him as a model? But one of those ordinary men, on receiving his first appointment, goes along with a haughty stride; on receiving his second, he looks quite elated in his chariot; and on receiving the third, he calls his uncles by their personal names;-- how very different from Hsü (Yû) in the time (of Yâo of) Thang!

Of all things that injure (men) there is none greater than the practising of virtue with the purpose of the mind, till the mind becomes supercilious. When it becomes so, the mind (only) looks inwards (on itself), and such looking into itself leads to its ruin. This evil quality has five forms, and the chief of them is that which is the central. What do we mean by the central quality? It is that which appears in a man's loving (only) his own views, and reviling whatever he does not do (himself).

Limiting (men's advance), there are eight extreme conditions; securing (that advance), there are three things necessary; and the person has its six repositories. Elegance; a (fine) beard; tallness; size; strength; beauty; bravery; daring; and in all these excelling others:-- (these are the eight extreme conditions) by which advance is limited. Depending on and copying others; stooping in order to rise; and being straitened by the fear of not equalling others:-- these are the three things that lead to advancing. Knowledge seeking to reach to all that is external; bold movement producing many resentments; benevolence and righteousness leading to many requisitions; understanding the phenomena of life in an extraordinary degree; understanding all knowledge so as to possess an approach to it; understanding the great condition appointed for him, and following it, and the smaller conditions, and meeting them as they occur:-- (these are the six repositories of the person).

12. There was a man who, having had an interview with the king of Sung, and been presented by him with ten carriages, showed them boastfully to Kwang-tsze, as if the latter had been a boy. Kwang-tsze said to him, 'Near the Ho there was a poor man who supported his family by weaving rushes (to form screens). His son, when diving in a deep pool, found a pearl worth a thousand ounces of silver. The father said, "Bring a stone, and break it in pieces. A pearl of this value must have been in a pool nine khung deep, and under the chin of the Black Dragon. That you were able to get it must have been owing to your finding him asleep. Let him awake, and the consequences to you will not be small!" Now the kingdom of Sung is deeper than any pool of nine khung, and its king is fiercer than the Black Dragon. That you were able to get the chariots must have been owing to your finding him asleep. Let him awake, and you will be ground to powder.'

13. Some (ruler) having sent a message of invitation to him, Kwang-tsze replied to the messenger, 'Have you seen, Sir, a sacrificial ox? It is robed with ornamental embroidery, and feasted on fresh grass and beans. But when it is led into the grand ancestral temple, though it wished to be (again) a solitary calf, would that be possible for it?'

14. When Kwang-tsze was about to die, his disciples signified their wish to give him a grand burial. 'I shall have heaven and earth,' said he, 'for my coffin and its shell; the sun and moon for my two round symbols of jade; the stars and constellations for my pearls and jewels; and all things assisting as the mourners. Will not the provisions for my burial be complete? What could you add to them?' The disciples replied, 'We are afraid that the crows and kites will eat our master.' Kwang-tsze rejoined, 'Above, the crows and kites will eat me; below, the mole-crickets and ants will eat me:-- to take from those and give to these would only show your partiality.'

The attempt, with what is not even, to produce what is even will only produce an uneven result; the attempt, with what is uncertain, to make the uncertain certain will leave the uncertainty as it was. He who uses only the sight of his eyes is acted on by what he sees; it is the (intuition of the) spirit, that gives the assurance of certainty. That the sight of the eyes is not equal to that intuition of the spirit is a thing long acknowledged. And yet stupid people rely on what they see, and will have it to be the sentiment of all men;-- all their success being with what is external:-- is it not sad?