The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 33: Thien Hsiâ

Chuang Tzu

Thien Hsiâ.

1. The methods employed in the regulation of the world are many; and (the employers of them) think each that the efficiency of his own method leaves nothing to be added to it.

But where is what was called of old 'the method of the Tâo?' We must reply, 'It is everywhere.' But then whence does the spiritual in it come down? and whence does the intelligence in it come forth? There is that which gives birth to the Sage, and that which gives his perfection to the King:-- the origin of both is the One.

Not to be separate from his primal source constitutes what we call the Heavenly man; not to be separate from the essential nature thereof constitutes what we call the Spirit-like man; not to be separate from its real truth constitutes what we call the Perfect man.

To regard Heaven as his primal Source, Its Attributes as the Root (of his nature), and the Tâo as the Gate (by which he enters into this inheritance), (knowing also) the prognostics given in change and transformation, constitutes what we call the Sagely man.

To regard benevolence as (the source of all) kindness, righteousness as (the source of all) distinctions, propriety as (the rule of) all conduct, and music as (the idea of) all harmony, thus diffusing a fragrance of gentleness and goodness, constitutes what we call the Superior man.

To regard laws as assigning the different (social) conditions, their names as the outward expression (of the social duties), the comparison of subjects as supplying the grounds of evidence, investigation as conducting to certainty, so that things can be numbered as first, second, third, fourth (and so on):-- (this is the basis of government). Its hundred offices are thus arranged; business has its regular course; the great matters of clothes and food are provided for; cattle are fattened and looked after; the (government) stores are filled; the old and weak, orphans and solitaries, receive anxious consideration:-- in all these ways is provision made for the nourishment of the people.

How complete was (the operation of the Tâo) in the men of old! It made them the equals of spiritual beings, and subtle and all-embracing as heaven and earth. They nourished all things, and produced harmony all under heaven. Their beneficent influence reached to all classes of the people. They understood all fundamental principles, and followed them out to their graduated issues; in all the six directions went their penetration, and in the four quarters all things were open to them. Great and small, fine and coarse;-- all felt their presence and operation. Their intelligence, as seen in all their regulations, was handed down from age to age in their old laws, and much of it was still to be found in the Historians. What of it was in the Shih, the Shû, the Lî, and the Yo, might be learned from the scholars of Tsâu and Lû, and the girdled members of the various courts. The Shih describes what should be the aim of the mind; the Shû, the course of events; the Lî is intended to direct the conduct; the Yo, to set forth harmony; the Yî, to show the action of the Yin and Yang; and the Khun Khiû, to display names and the duties belonging to them.

Some of the regulations (of these men of old), scattered all under heaven, and established in our Middle states, are (also) occasionally mentioned and described in the writings of the different schools.

There ensued great disorder in the world, and sages and worthies no longer shed their light on it. The Tâo and its characteristics ceased to be regarded as uniform. Many in different places got one glimpse of it, and plumed themselves on possessing it as a whole. They might be compared to the ear, the eye, the nose, or the mouth. Each sense has its own faculty, but their different faculties cannot be interchanged. So it was with the many branches of the various schools. Each had its peculiar excellence, and there was the time for the use of it; but notwithstanding no one covered or extended over the whole (range of truth). The case was that of the scholar of a corner who passes his judgment on all the beautiful in heaven and earth, discriminates the principles that underlie all things, and attempts to estimate the success arrived at by the ancients. Seldom is it that such an one can embrace all the beautiful in heaven and earth, or rightly estimate the ways of the spiritual and intelligent; and thus it was that the Tâo, which inwardly forms the sage and externally the king, became obscured and lost its clearness, became repressed and lost its development. Every one in the world did whatever he wished, and was the rule to himself. Alas! the various schools held on their several ways, and could not come back to the same point, nor agree together. The students of that later age unfortunately did not see the undivided purity of heaven and earth, and the great scheme of truth held by the ancients. The system of the Tâo was about to be torn in fragments all under the sky.