IMPUTED WORDS MAKE up nine tenths of it; repeated words make up seven tenths of it; goblet words come forth day after day, harmonizing things in the Heavenly Equality.1

These imputed words which make up nine tenths of it are like persons brought in from outside for the purpose of exposition. A father does not act as go‑between for his own son because the praises of the father would not be as effective as the praises of an outsider. It is the fault of other men, not mine [that I must resort to such a device, for if I were to speak in my own words], then men would respond only to what agrees with their own views and reject what does not, would pronounce "right" what agrees with their own views and "wrong" what does not.

These repeated words which make up seven tenths of it are intended to put an end to argument. They can do this because they are the words of the elders. If, however, one is ahead of others in age but does not have a grasp of the warp and woof, the root and branch of things, that is commensurate with his years, then he is not really ahead of others. An old man who is not in some way ahead of others has not grasped the Way of man, and if he has not grasped the Way of man, he deserves to be looked on as a mere stale remnant of the past.

With these goblet words that come forth day after day, I harmonize all things in the Heavenly Equality, leave them to their endless changes, and so live out my years. As long as I do not say anything about them, they are a unity. But the unity and what I say about it have ceased to be a unity; what I say and the unity have ceased to be a unity.2 Therefore I say, we must have no‑words! With words that are no‑words, you may speak all your life long and you will never have said anything. Or you may go through your whole life without speaking them, in which case you will never have stopped speaking.

There is that which makes things acceptable, there is that which makes things unacceptable; there is that which makes things so, there is that which makes things not so. What makes them so? Making them so makes them so. What makes them not so? Making them not so makes them not so. What makes them acceptable? Making them acceptable makes them acceptable. What makes them not acceptable? Making them not acceptable makes them not acceptable. Things all must have that which is so; things all must have that which is acceptable. There is nothing that is not so, nothing that is not acceptable.3 If there were no goblet words coming forth day after day to harmonize all by the Heavenly Equality, then how could I survive for long?

The ten thousand things all come from the same seed, and with their different forms they give place to one another. Beginning and end are part of a single ring and no one can comprehend its principle. This is called Heaven the Equalizer, which is the same as the Heavenly Equality.

Chuang Tzu said to Hui Tzu, "Confucius has been going along for sixty years and he has changed sixty times. What at the beginning he used to call right he has ended up calling 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." 4

Hui Tzu said, "Confucius keeps working away at it, trying to make knowledge serve him."

"Oh, no‑Confucius has given all that up," said Chuang Tzu. "It's just that he never talks about it. Confucius said, `We receive our talents from the Great Source and, with the spirit hidden within us,' we live.' [As for you, you] sing on key, you talk by the rules, you line up `profit' and `righteousness' before us, but your 'likes' and `dislikes,' your `rights' and `wrongs' are merely something that command lip service from others, that's all. If you could make men pay service with their minds and never dare stand up in defiance ‑ this would settle things for the world so they would stay settled. But let it be, let it be! As for me, what hope have I of ever catching up with Confucius?"

Tseng Tzu twice held office, each time with a change of hearts "The first time, when I was taking care of my parents, I received a salary of only three fu of grain and yet my heart was happy," he said. "The second time I received a salary of  three thousand chung, but I no longer had them to take care of and my heart was sad."

One of the disciples asked Confucius, "May we say that someone like Tseng Shen has escaped the crime of entanglement?"

"But he was already entangled! If he hadn't been entangled, how could he have had any cause for sorrow? He would have regarded three fu or three thousand chung as so many sparrows or mosquitoes passing in front of him!"

Yen Ch'eng Tzu‑yu said to Tzu‑ch'i of East Wall, "When I began listening to your words, the first year I was a bumpkin; the second I followed along; the third I worked into it; the fourth I was just another thing; the fifth it began to come; the sixth the spirits descended to me; the seventh the Heavenly part was complete; the eighth I didn't understand death and didn't understand life; and with the ninth I reached the Great Mystery.

"When the living start doing things, they are dead. When they strive for public causes because private ones mean death, they are following a path. But what lives in the light is following no path at all.7' What is the result then? How can there be any place that is fitting? How can there be any place that isn't fitting? Heaven has its cycles and numbers, earth its flats and slopes8 ‑ yet why should I seek to comprehend them? No one knows when they will end ‑ how then can we say that they are fated to die? No one knows when they began ‑ how then can we say that they are not fated to die? There seems to be something that responds ‑ how then can we say there are no spirits? There seems to be something that does not respond ‑ how then can we say that spirits do exist?"

Penumbra said to Shadow, "A little while ago you were looking down and now you're looking up, a little while ago your hair was bound up and now it's hanging loose, a little while ago you were sitting and now you're standing up, a little while ago you were walking and now you're still ‑ why is this?"

Shadow said, "Quibble, quibble! Why bother asking about such things? I do them but I don't know why. I'm the shell of the cicada, the skin of the snake ‑ something that seems to be but isn't. In firelight or sunlight I draw together, in darkness or night I disappear. But do you suppose I have to wait around for those things? (And how much less so in the case of that which waits for nothing!) If those things come, then I come with them; if they go, then I go with them; if they come with the Powerful Yang, then I come with the Powerful Yang. But this Powerful Yang ‑ why ask questions about it?" 9

Yang Tzu‑chu went south to P'ei, and when he got to Liang, he went out to the edge of the city to greet Lao Tan, who had been traveling west to Chin, and escort him in.10 Lao Tzu stood in the middle of the road, looked up to heaven, and sighed, saying, "At first I thought that you could be taught, but now I see it's hopeless!"

Yang Tzu‑chu made no reply, but when they reached the inn, he fetched a basin of water, a towel, and a comb and, taking off his shoes outside the door of the room, came crawling forward on his knees and said, "Earlier I had hoped to ask you, Sir, what you meant by your remark, but I saw that you were occupied and didn't dare to. Now that you have a free moment, may I ask where my fault lies?"

Lao Tzu said, "High and mighty, proud and haughty ‑ who could stand to live with you! 11 The greatest purity looks like shame, abundant virtue seems to be insufficient." 12

When Yang Tzu‑chu first arrived at the inn, the people in the inn came out to greet him. The innkeeper stood ready with a mat, his wife with towel and comb, while the other guests moved politely off their mats and those who had been warming themselves at the stove stepped aside. But when Yang returned from his interview with Lao Tzu, the people at the inn tried to push him right off his own mat.13