WHEN TSE‑YANG WAS TRAVELING In Ch'u, Yi Chieh spoke to the king of Ch'u about him, but gave up and went home without having persuaded the king to grant Tse-yang an interview. Tse‑yang went to see Wang Kuo and said, "Sir, I wonder if you would mention me to the king." 1

Wang Kuo replied, "I would not be as good at that as Kung Yueh‑hsiu."

Tse‑yang said, "Kung Yueh‑hsiu? What does he do?"

"In winter he spears turtles by the river, in summer he loafs around the mountains, and if anyone comes along and asks him about it, he says, `This is my house!' Now since Yi Chieh was unable to persuade the king, what could I do? ‑ I am not even a match for Yi Chieh. Yi Chieh is the kind of man who has understanding, though he lacks real virtue. He is not permissive with himself, but puts his whole spirit into pleasing his friends. He has always been dazzled and misled by wealth and eminence ‑ so he is not the kind to help others out with virtue, but instead will help them out with harm. A man who is chilled will think spring has come if he piles on enough clothes; a man suffering from the heat will think winter has returned if he finds a cool breeze.2 Now the king of Ch'u is the kind of man who is majestic and stern in bearing, and if offended he is as unforgiving as a tiger. No one but a gross flatterer or a man of the most perfect virtue can hope to talk him into anything.

"The true sage, now ‑ living in hardship, he can make his family forget their poverty; living in affluence, he can make kings and dukes forget their titles and stipends and humble themselves before him. His approach to things is to go along with them and be merry; his approach to men is to take pleasure in the progress of others and to hold on to what is his own. So there may be times when, without saying a word, he induces harmony in others; just standing alongside others, he can cause them to change, until the proper relationship between father and son has found its way into every home.3 He does it all in a spirit of unity and effortlessness ‑ so far is he removed from the hearts of men. This is why I say you should wait for Kung Yueh‑hsiu."

The sage penetrates bafflement and complication, rounding all into a single body, yet he does not know why ‑ it is his inborn nature. He returns to fate and acts accordingly, using Heaven as his teacher, and men follow after, pinning labels on him. But if he worried about how much he knew and his actions were never constant for so much as a year or a season 4 then how could he ever find a stopping place?

When people are born with good looks, you may hand them a mirror, but if you don't tell them, they will never know that they are better looking than others. Whether they know it or don't know it, whether they are told of it or are not told of it, however, their delightful good looks remain unchanged to the end, and others can go on endlessly admiring them ‑ it is a matter of inborn nature. The sage loves other men, and men accordingly pin labels on him, but if they do not tell him, then he will never know that he loves other men. Whether he knows it or doesn't know it, whether he is told of it or is not told of it, however, his love for men remains unchanged to the end, and others can find endless security in it ‑ it is a matter of inborn nature.

The old homeland, the old city ‑ just to gaze at it from afar is to feel a flush of joy. Even when its hills and mounds are a tangle of weeds and brush, and nine out of ten of the ones you knew have gone to lie under them, still you feel joyful. How much more so, then, when you see those you used to see, when you hear the voices you used to hear ‑ they stand out like eighty‑foot towers among the crowd.5

Mr. Jen‑hsiang held on to the empty socket and followed along to completion.6 Joining with things, he knew no end, no beginning, no year, no season.7 And because he changed day by day with things, he was one with the man who never changes ‑ so why should he ever try to stop doing this? He who tries to make Heaven his teacher will never get Heaven to teach him ‑ he will end up following blindly along with all other things, and then no matter how he goes about it, what can he do? The sage has never begun to think of Heaven, has never begun to think of man, has never begun to think of a beginning, has never begun to think of things. He moves in company with the age, never halting; wherever he moves he finds completion and no impediment. Others try to keep up with him, but what can they do?

T’ang got hold of the groom and guardsman Teng Heng and had him be his tutor. He followed him and treated him as a teacher, but was not confined by him ‑ so he could follow

along to completion, becoming as a result a mere holder of titles. This is called making yourself superfluous, a method by which two manifestations can be attained.8 Confucius' injunc­tion "Be done with schemes!"‑ you could let that be your tutor as well. Or Mr. Yung‑ch'eng's saying, "Be done with days and there will be no more years! No inside, no outside."

King Ying of Wei made a treaty with Marquis T'ien Mou of Ch'i, but Marquis T'ien Mou violated it.9 King Ying, enraged, was about to send a man to assassinate him. Kung‑sun Yen, the minister of war, heard of this and was filled with shame. "You are the ruler of a state of ten thousand chariots," he said to the king, "and yet you would send a commoner to carry out your revenge! I beg to be given command of two hundred thousand armored troops so that I may attack him for you, make prisoners of his people, and lead away his horses and cattle. I will make him burn with anger so fierce that it will break out on his back.10 Then I will storm his capital, and when T'ien Chi 1l tries to run away, I will strike him in the back and break his spine!"

Chi Tzu, hearing this, was filled with shame and said, "If one sets out to build an eighty‑foot wall, and then, when it is already seven‑tenths finished, 12 deliberately pulls it down, the convict laborers who built it will look upon it as a bitter waste. Now for seven years we have not had to call out the troops, and this peace has been the foundation of your sovereignty. Kung‑sun Yen is a troublemaker ‑ his advice must not be heeded!"

Hua Tzu, hearing this, was filled with disgust and said, "He who is so quick to say `Attack Ch'i!' is a troublemaker, and he who is so quick to say `Don't attack Ch'i!' is a troublemaker! And he who says that those who are for and against the attack are both troublemakers is a troublemaker, too!"

"Then what should I do?" said the ruler.

"Just try to find the Way, that's all."

Hui Tzu, hearing this, introduced Tai Chin‑jen to the ruler. Tai Chin‑jen said, "There is a creature called the snail ‑ does Your Majesty know it?"


"On top of its left horn is a kingdom called Buffet, and on top of its right horn is a kingdom called Maul.13 At times they quarrel over territory and go to war, strewing the field with corpses by the ten thousand, the victor pursuing the vanquished for half a month before returning home."

"Pooh!" said the ruler. "What kind of empty talk is this?"

"But Your Majesty will perhaps allow me to show you the truth in it. Do you believe that there is a limit to the four directions, to up and down?"

"They have no limits," said the ruler.

"And do you know that when the mind has wandered in these limitless reaches and returns to the lands we know and travel, they seem so small it is not certain whether they even exist or not?"

"Yes," said the ruler.

"And among these lands we know and travel is the state of Wei, and within the state of Wei is the city of Liang, and within the city of Liang is Your Majesty. Is there any difference between you and the ruler of Maul?"

"No difference," said the king.

After the visitor left, the king sat stupefied, as though lost to the world. The interview over, Hui Tzu appeared before him. "That visitor of ours is a Great Man," said the king.

"The sages themselves are unworthy of comparison with him!" Hui Tzu said, "Blow on a flute and you get a nice shrill note; but blow on the ring of your sword hilt and all you get is a feeble wheeze. People are inclined to praise the sages Yao and Shun, but if you started expounding on Yao and Shun in the presence of Tai Chin‑jen, it would sound like one little wheeze!"

When Confucius was traveling to the capital of Ch'u, he stopped for the night at a tavern at Ant Knoll. Next door a crowd of husbands and wives, menservants and maidservants had climbed up to the rooftop [to watch].11 Tzu‑lu said, "Who are all those people milling around?"

"They are the servants of a sage," said Confucius. "He has buried himself among the people, hidden himself among the fields. His reputation fades away but his determination knows no end. Though his mouth speaks, his mind has never spoken. Perhaps he finds himself at odds with the age and in his heart disdains to go along with it. He is one who has `drowned in the midst of dry land.' I would guess that it is I‑liao from south of the Market." 15

" May I go next door and call him over?" asked Tzu‑lu.

"Let it be!" said Confucius. "He knows that I am out to make a name for myself, and he knows I am on my way to the capital of Ch'u. .He is sure to assume that I am trying to get the king of Ch'u to give me a position and will accordingly take me for a sycophant. A man like that is ashamed even to hear the words of a sycophant, much less appear in person before him! What makes you think he is still at home anyway?"

Tzu‑lu went next door to have a look and found the house deserted.

The border guard of Chang‑wu said to Tzu‑lao,16 "In running the government you mustn't be slipshod; in ordering the people you mustn't be slapdash! In the past I used to grow grain. I plowed in a slipshod way and got a slipshod crop in return. I weeded in a slapdash way and got a slapdash crop in return. The following year I changed my methods, plowing deeper than before and raking with great care ‑ the grain grew thick and luxuriant, and I had all I wanted to eat for the whole year!"

Chuang Tzu, hearing of this, said, "People of today, when they come to ordering their bodies and regulating their minds, too often do it in a manner like that which the border guard described. They turn their backs on the Heavenly part, deviate from the inborn nature, destroy the true form, and annihilate the spirit, just to be doing what the crowd is doing. So he who is slipshod with his inborn nature will find the evils of desire and hate affecting his inborn nature like weeds and rushes. When they first sprout up, he thinks they will be a comfort to the body, but in time they end by stifling the inborn nature. Side by side they begin to break out and ooze forth, not on just one part of the body but all over. Festering ulcers and boils, internal fevers and pus‑filled urine ‑ these are the results!"

Po Chu having studied under Lao Tan, said, "I would like permission to go wandering about the world."

"Let it be!" said Lao Tan. "The world is right here."

When Po Chi! repeated his request, Lao Tan said, "Where will you go first?"

"I will begin with Ch'i." When he arrived in Ch'i, he saw the body of a criminal who had been executed. 17 Pushing and dragging until he had it laid out in proper position, he took off his formal robes and covered it with them, wailing to Heaven and crying out, "Alas, alas! The world is in dire misfortune, and you have been quicker than the rest of us to encounter it. 'Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not murder!' they say. But when glory and disgrace have once been defined, you will see suffering; when goods and wealth have once been gathered together, you will see wrangling. To define something that brings suffering to men, to gather together what sets them to wrangling, inflicting misery and weariness upon them, never granting them a time of rest, and yet to hope somehow that they will not end up like this ‑ how could it be possible?

"The gentlemen of old attributed what success they had to the people and what failure they had to themselves, attributed what was upright to the people and what was askew to themselves. Therefore, if there was something wrong with the body of even a single being, they would retire and take the blame upon themselves. But that is not the way it is done today. They make things obscure and then blame people for not understanding; l8 they enlarge the difficulties and then punish people for not being able to cope with them; they pile on responsibilities and then penalize people for not being able to fulfill them; they make the journey longer and then chastise people for not reaching the end of it. When the knowledge and strength of the people are exhausted, they will begin to piece them out with artifice, and when day by day the amount of artifice in the world increases, how can men keep from resorting to artifice? A lack of strength invites artifice, a lack of knowledge invites deceit, a lack of goods invites theft. But these thefts and robberies ‑ who in fact deserves the blame for them?"

Ch'u Po‑yu has been going along for sixty years and has changed sixty times. There was not a single instance in which what he called right in the beginning he did not in the end reject and call wrong. So now there's no telling whether what he calls right at the moment is not in fact what he called wrong during the past fifty‑nine years. The ten thousand things have their life, yet no one sees its roots; they have their comings forth, yet no one sees the gate. Men all pay homage to what understanding understands, but no one understands enough to rely upon what understanding does not understand and thereby come to understand. Can we call this anything but great perplexity? Let it be, let it be! There is no place you can escape it. This is what is called saying both "that is so" and "is that so?" 19

Confucius said to the Grand Historiographers Ta T'ao, Po Ch'ang‑ch'ien, and Hsi Wei, "Duke Ling of Wei drank wine and wallowed in pleasure, paying no heed to the government of the state; he went hunting and gaming with nets and stringed arrows, ignoring his obligations to the other feudal lords. How then does he come to be called Duke Ling? " 20

Ta T'ao said, "It fitted the facts."

Po Ch'ang‑ch'ien said, "Duke Ling had three wives with whom he would bathe in the same tub. But when Shih Ch'iu appeared in his presence to offer a gift of cloth, the duke would accept it in person and respectfully attend Shih Ch'iu.21 He was so depraved as to bathe with his wives, and yet so correct in his behavior before a worthy man ‑ this is why he was titled Duke Ling."

Hsi Wei said, "When Duke Ling died, we divined to see if he should be buried in the family graveyard, but the omens were unfavorable. Then we divined to see if he should be buried at Sand Hill and the omens were favorable. Digging down several fathoms, we found a stone coffin and, when we had washed and examined it, we discovered an inscription which said: `You cannot depend upon your heirs ‑ Duke Ling will seize this plot for his own burial.' 22 So it appears that Duke Ling had already been titled Ling for a long long time. How could these two here know enough to understand this!"

Little Understanding said to Great Impartial Accord, "What is meant by the term `community words'?"

Great Impartial Accord said, " `Community words' refers to the combining of ten surnames and a hundred given names into a single social unit.23 Differences are combined into a sameness; samenesses are broken up into differences. Now we may point to each of the hundred parts of a horse's body and never come up with a `horse' ‑ yet here is the horse, tethered right before our eyes. So we take the hundred parts and set up the term `horse.' Thus it is that hills and mountains pile up one little layer on another to reach loftiness; the Yangtze and the Yellow River combine stream after stream to achieve magnitude; and the Great Man combines and brings together things to attain generality.24 Therefore, when things enter his mind from the outside, there is a host to receive them but not to cling to them; and when things come forth from his mind, there is a mark to guide them but not to constrain them.25 The four seasons each differ in breath, but Heaven shows no partiality26 among them, and therefore the year comes to completion. The five government bureaus differ in function, but the ruler shows no partiality among them, and therefore the state is well ordered. In both civil and military affairs, the Great Man shows no partiality, and therefore his virtue is complete. 27 The ten thousand things differ in principle, but the Way shows no partiality among them, and therefore they may achieve namelessness. 28 Being nameless, they are without action; without action, yet there is nothing they do not do.

"The seasons have their end and beginning, the ages their changes and transformations. Bad fortune and good, tripping and tumbling, come now with what repels you, now with what you welcome. Set in your own opinion, at odds with others, now you judge things to be upright, now you judge them to be warped. But if you could only be like the great swamp, which finds accommodation for a hundred different timbers, or take your model from the great mountain, whose trees and rocks share a common groundwork! This is what is

meant by the term `community words.'"

Little Understanding said, "Well, then, if we call these [general concepts] the Way, will that be sufficient?"

"Oh, no," said Great Impartial Accord. "If we calculate the number of things that exist, the count certainly does not stop at ten thousand. Yet we set a limit and speak of the `ten thousand things' ‑ because we select a number that is large and agree to apply it to them. In the same way, heaven and earth are forms which are large, the yin and yang are breaths which are large, and the Way is the generality that embraces them. If from the point of view of largeness we agree to apply [the name `Way'] to it, then there is no objection. But if, having established this name, we go on and try to compare it to the reality, then it will be like trying to compare a dog to a horse ‑ the distance between them is impossibly far." 29

Little Understanding said, "Here within the four directions and the six realms, where do the ten thousand things spring from when they come into being?"

Great Impartial Accord said, "The yin and yang shine on each other, maim each other, heal each other; the four seasons succeed each other, give birth to each other, slaughter each other. Desire and hatred, rejection and acceptance thereupon rise up in succession;30 the pairing of halves between male and female thereupon becomes a regular occurrence. Security and danger trade places with each other, bad and good fortune give birth to each other, tense times and relaxed ones buffet one another, gathering‑together and scattering bring it all to completion. These names and realities can be recorded, their details and minute parts can be noted. The principle of following one another in orderly succession, the property of moving in alternation, turning back when they have reached the limit, beginning again when they have ended ‑ these are inherent in things. But that which words can adequately describe, that which understanding can reach to, extends only as far as the level of `things,' no farther. The man who looks to the Way does not try to track down what has disappeared, does not try to trace the source of what springs up. This is the point at which debate comes to a stop."

Little Understanding said, "Chi Chen's contention that `nothing does it' and Chieh Tzu's contention that `something makes it like this' ‑ of the views of these two schools, which correctly describes the truth of the matter and which is one-sided in its understanding of principles?" 31

Great Impartial Accord said, "Chickens squawk, dogs bark  ‑ this is something men understand. But no matter how great their understanding, they cannot explain in words how the chicken and the dog have come to be what they are, nor can they imagine in their minds what they will become in the future. You may pick apart and analyze till you have reached what is so minute that it is without form, what is so large that it cannot be encompassed. But whether you say that `nothing does it' or that `something makes it like this,' you have not yet escaped from the realm of `things,' and so in the end you fall into error. If `something makes it like this,' then it is real; if `nothing does it,' then it is unreal. While there are names and realities, you are in the presence of things. When there are no names and realities, you exist in the absence of things.32 You can talk about it, you can think about it; but the more you talk about it, the farther away you get from it.

"Before they are born, things cannot decline to be born; already dead, they cannot refuse to go. Death and life are not far apart, though the principle that underlies them cannot be seen. `Nothing does it,' `something makes it like this' ‑ these are speculations born out of doubt. I look for the roots of the past, but they extend back and back without end. I search for the termination of the future, but it never stops coming at me. Without end, without stop, it is the absence of words, which shares the same principle with things themselves. But `nothing does it,' `something makes it like this' ‑ these are the commencement of words and they begin and end along with things.

"The Way cannot be thought of as being, nor can it be thought of as nonbeing. In calling it the Way we are only adopting a temporary expedient. `Nothing does it,' `something makes it like this' ‑ these occupy a mere corner of the realm of things. What connection could they have with the Great Method? If you talk in a worthy manner, you can talk all day long and all of it will pertain to the Way. But if you talk in an unworthy manner, you can talk all day long and all of it will pertain to mere things. The perfection of the Way and things ‑ neither words nor silence are worthy of expressing it. Not to talk, not to be silent ‑ this is the highest form of debate."