The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Book 33 (cont.): Thien Hsiâ

Chuang Tzu

Thien Hsiâ. (cont.)

2. To leave no example of extravagance to future generations; to show no wastefulness in the use of anything; to make no display in the degree of their (ceremonial) observances; to keep themselves (in their expenditure) under the restraint of strict and exact rule, so as to be prepared for occurring emergencies;-- such regulations formed part of the system of the Tâo in antiquity, and were appreciated by Mo Tâ, and (his disciple) Khin Hwa-lî. When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them; but they enjoined them in excess, and followed them themselves too strictly. (Mo) made the treatise 'Against Music,' and enjoined the subject of another, called 'Economy in Expenditure,' on his followers. He would have no singing in life, and no wearing of mourning on occasions of death. He inculcated Universal Love, and a Common Participation in all advantages, and condemned Fighting. His doctrine did not admit of Anger. He was fond also of Learning, and with it all strove not to appear different from others. Yet he did not agree with the former kings, but attacked the ceremonies and music of the ancients.

Hwang-Tî had his Hsien-khih; Yâo, his Tâ Kang; Shun, his Tâ Shâo; Yü, his Tâ Hsiâ; Thang, his Tâ Hû; king Wan, his music of the Phi-yung; and king Wû and the duke of Kâu made the Wû.

In the mourning rites of the ancients, the noble and mean had their several observances, the high and low their different degrees. The coffin of the Son of Heaven was sevenfold; of a feudal lord, fivefold; of a great officer, threefold; of other officers, twofold. But now Mo-tsze alone, would have no singing during life, and no wearing of mourning after death. As the rule for all, he would have a coffin of elaeococca wood, three inches thick, and without any enclosing shell. The teaching of such lessons cannot be regarded as affording a proof of his love for men; his practising them in his own case would certainly show that he did not love himself; but this has not been sufficient to overthrow the views of Mo-tsze. Notwithstanding, men will sing, and he condemns singing; men will wail, and he condemns wailing; men will express their joy, and he condemns such expression:-- is this truly in accordance with man's nature? Through life toil, and at death niggardliness:-- his way is one of great unkindliness. Causing men sorrow and melancholy, and difficult to be carried into practice, I fear it cannot be regarded as the way of a sage. Contrary to the minds of men everywhere, men will not endure it. Though Mo-tsze himself might be able to endure it, how can the aversion of the world to it be overcome? The world averse to it, it must be far from the way of the (ancient) kings.

Mo-tsze, in praise of his views, said, 'Anciently, when Yü was draining off the waters of the flood, he set free the channels of the Kiang and the Ho, and opened communications with them from the regions of the four Î and the nine provinces. The famous hills with which he dealt were 300, the branch streams were 3000, and the smaller ones innumerable. With his own hands he carried the sack and wielded the spade, till he had united all the streams of the country (conducting them to the sea). There was no hair left on his legs from the knee to the ankle. He bathed his hair in the violent wind, and combed it in the pelting rain, thus marking out the myriad states. Yü was a great sage, and thus he toiled in the service of the world.' The effect of this is that in this later time most of the Mohists wear skins and dolychos cloth, with shoes of wood or twisted hemp, not stopping day or night, but considering such toiling on their part as their highest achievement. They say that he who cannot do this is acting contrary to the way of Yü, and not fit to be a Mohist.

The disciples of Khin of Hsiang-lî, the followers of the various feudal lords; and Mohists of the south, such as Khû Hû, Ki Khih, and Tang Ling-tsze, all repeated the texts of Mo, but they differed in the objections which they offered to them, and in their deceitful glosses they called one another Mohists of different schools. They had their disputations, turning on 'what was hard,' and 'what was white,' what constituted 'sameness' and what 'difference,' and their expressions about the difference between 'the odd' and 'the even,' with which they answered one another. They regarded their most distinguished member as a sage, and wished to make him their chief, hoping that he would be handed down as such to future ages. To the present day these controversies are not determined.

The idea of Mo Tî and Khin Hwa-lî was good, but their practice was wrong. They would have made the Mohists of future ages feel it necessary to toil themselves, till there was not a hair on their legs, and still be urging one another on; (thus producing a condition) superior indeed to disorder, but inferior to the result of good government. Nevertheless, Mo-tsze was indeed one of the best men in the world, which you may search without finding his equal. Decayed and worn (his person) might be, but he is not to be rejected,-- a scholar of ability indeed!

3. To keep from being entangled by prevailing customs; to shun all ornamental attractions in one's self; not to be reckless in his conduct to others; not to set himself stubbornly against a multitude; to desire the peace and repose of the world in order to preserve the lives of the people; and to cease his action when enough had been obtained for the nourishment of others and himself, showing that this was the aim of his mind;-- such a scheme belonged to the system of the Tâo in antiquity, and it was appreciated by Sung Hsing and Yin Wan.

When they heard of such ways, they were delighted with them. They made the Hwa-shan cap, and wore it as their distinguishing badge. In their intercourse with others, whatever their differences might be, they began by being indulgent to them. Their name for 'the Forbearance of the Mind' was 'the Action of the Mind.' By the warmth of affection they sought the harmony of joy, and to blend together all within the four seas; and their wish was to plant this everywhere as the chief thing to be pursued. They endured insult without feeling it a disgrace; they sought to save the people from fighting; they forbade aggression and sought to hush the weapons of strife, to save their age from war. In this way they went everywhere, counselling the high and instructing the low. Though the world might not receive them, they only insisted on their object the more strongly, and would not abandon it. Hence it is said, 'The high and the low might be weary of them, but they were strong to show themselves.'

Notwithstanding all this, they acted too much out of regard to others, and too little for themselves. It was as if they said, 'What we request and wish is simply that there may be set down for us five pints of rice;-- that will be enough.' But I fear the Master would not get his fill from this; and the disciples, though famishing, would still have to be mindful of the world, and, never stopping day or night, have to say, 'Is it necessary I should preserve my life? Shall I scheme how to exalt myself above the master, the saviour of the age?'

It was moreover as if they said, 'The superior man does not censoriously scrutinize (the faults of others); he does not borrow from others to supersede his own endeavours; when any think that he is of no use to the world, he knows that their intelligence is inferior to his own; he considers the prohibition of aggression and causing the disuse of arms to be an external achievement, and the making his own desires to be few and slight to be the internal triumph.' Such was their discrimination between the great and the small, the subtle and the coarse; and with the attainment of this they stopped.