MANY ARE THE MEN in the world who apply themselves to doctrines and policies, and each believes he has something that cannot be improved upon. What in ancient times was called the "art of the Way' ‑ where does it exist? I say, there is no place it does not exist. But, you ask, where does holiness descend from, where does enlightenment emerge from? The sage gives them birth, the king completes them, and all have their source in the One. He who does not depart from the Ancestor is called the Heavenly Man; he who does not depart from the Pure is called the Holy Man; he who does not depart from the True is called the Perfect Man.

To make Heaven his source, Virtue his root, and the Way his gate, revealing himself through change and transformation ‑ one who does this is called a Sage.

To make benevolence his standard of kindness, righteousness his model of reason, ritual his guide to conduct, and music his source of harmony, serene in mercy and benevolence ‑ one who does this is called a gentleman.

To employ laws to determine functions, names to indicate rank, comparisons to discover actual performance, investigations to arrive at decisions, checking them off, one, two, three, four, and in this way to assign the hundred officials to their ranks; to keep a constant eye on administrative affairs, give first thought to food and clothing, keep in mind the need to produce and grow, to shepherd and store away, to provide for the old and the weak, the orphan and the widow, so that all are properly nourished ‑ these are the principles whereby the people are ordered.1

How thorough were the men of ancient times!‑companions of holiness and enlightenment, pure as Heaven and earth, caretakers of the ten thousand things, harmonizers of the world, their bounty extended to the hundred clans. They had a clear understanding of basic policies and paid attention even to petty regulations ‑ in the six avenues and the four frontiers, in what was great or small, coarse or fine, there was no place they did not move.

The wisdom that was embodied in their policies and regulations is in many cases still reflected in the old laws and records of the historiographers handed down over the ages. As to that which is recorded in the Book of Odes and Book of Documents, the Ritual and the Music, there are many gentlemen of Tsou and Lu, scholars of sash and official rank, who have an understanding of it. The Book of Odes describes the will; the Book of Documents describes events; the Ritual speaks of conduct; the Music speaks of harmony; the Book of Changes describes the yin and yang; the Spring and Autumn Annals describes titles and functions.2

These various policies are scattered throughout the world and are propounded in the Middle Kingdom, the scholars of the hundred schools from time to time taking up one or the other in their praises and preachings. But the world is in great disorder, the worthies and sages lack clarity of vision, and the Way and its Virtue are no longer One. So the world too often seizes upon one of its aspects, examines it, and pronounces it good. But it is like the case of the ear, the eye, the nose, and the mouth: each has its own kind of understanding, but their functions are not interchangeable. In the same way, the various skills of the hundred schools all have their strong points, and at times each may be of use. But none is wholly sufficient, none is universal. The scholar cramped in one corner of learning tries to judge the beauty of Heaven and earth, to pry into the principles of the ten thousand things, to scrutinize the perfection of the ancients, but seldom is he able to encompass the true beauty of Heaven and earth, to describe the true face of holy brightness. Therefore the Way that is sagely within and kingly without has fallen into darkness and is no longer clearly perceived, has become shrouded and no longer shines forth. The men of the world all follow their own desires and make these their "doctrine." How sad! ‑ the hundred schools going on and on instead of turning back, fated never to join again. The scholars of later ages have unfortunately never perceived the purity of Heaven and earth, the great body of the ancients, and "the art of the Way" in time comes to be rent and torn apart by the world.

To teach no extravagance to later ages, to leave the ten thousand things unadorned, to shun any glorification of rules and regulations, instead applying ink and measuring line to the correction of one's own conduct, thus aiding the world in time of crisis ‑ there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things. Mo Ti and Ch'in Hua‑li heard of their views and delighted in them, but they followed them to excess and were too assiduous in applying them to themselves.

Mo Tzu wrote a piece "Against Music," and another entitled "Moderation in Expenditure," declaring there was to be no singing in life, no mourning in death.3 With a boundless love and a desire to insure universal benefit, he condemned warfare, and there was no place in his teachings for anger. Again, he was fond of learning and broad in knowledge, and in this respect did not differ from others. His views, however, were not always in accordance with those of the former kings, for he denounced the rites and music of antiquity. The Yellow Emperor had his Hsien‑ch'ih music, Yao his Ta‑chung, Shun his Ta‑shao, Yu his Ta‑hsia, T'ang his Ta‑huo, and King Wen the music of the Pi‑yung, while King Wu and the Duke of Chou fashioned the Wu music. The mourning rites of antiquity prescribed the ceremonies appropriate for eminent and humble, the different regulations for superior and inferior. The inner and outer coffins of the Son of Heaven were to consist of seven layers; those of the feudal lords, five layers; those of the high ministers, three layers; those of the officials, two layers. Yet Mo Tzu alone declares there is to be no singing in life, no mourning in death. A coffin of paulownia wood three inches thick, with no outer shell ‑ this is his rule, his ideal. If he teaches men in this fashion, then I fear he has no love for them; and if he adopts such practices for his own burial, then he surely has no love for himself! I do not mean to discredit his teachings entirely; and yet men want to sing and he says, "No singing!"; they want to wail and he says, "No wailing!" ‑ one wonders if he is in fact human at all. A life that is all toil, a death shoddily disposed of ‑ it is a way that goes too much against us. To make men anxious, to make them sorrowful - such practices are hard to carry out, and I fear they cannot be regarded as the Way of the Sage. They are contrary to the hearts of the world, and the world cannot endure them. Though Mo Tzu himself may be capable of such endurance, how can the rest of the world do likewise? Departing so far from the ways of the world, they must be far removed indeed from those of the true king.

Mo Tzu defends his teachings by saying, "In ancient times, when Yu dammed the flood waters and opened up the courses of the Yangtze and the Yellow River so that they flowed through the lands of the four barbarians and the nine provinces, joining with the three hundred famous rivers,4 their three thousand tributaries, and the little streams too numerous to count - at that time Yu in person carried the basket and wielded the spade, gathering together and mingling the rivers of the world, till there was no down left on his calves, no hair on his shins; the drenching rains washed his locks, the sharp winds combed them, while he worked to establish the ten thousand states. Yu was a great sage, yet with his own body he labored for the world in such fashion!" So it is that many of the Mo‑ists of later ages dress in skins and coarse cloth, wear wooden clogs or hempen sandals, never resting day or night, driving themselves on to the bitterest exertions. "If we cannot do the same," they say, "then we are not following the way of Yu, and are unworthy to be called Mo‑ists!"

The disciples of Hsiang‑li Ch'in, the followers of Wu Hou, and the Mo‑ists of the south such as K'u Huo, Chi Ch'ih, Teng Ling‑tzu, and their like all recite the Mo‑ist canon, and yet they quarrel and disagree in their interpretations, calling each other "Mo‑ist factionalists." In their discussions of "hard" and "white," "difference" and "sameness," they attack back and forth; in their disquisitions on the incompatibility of "odd" and "even" they exchange volleys of refutation.5 They regard the Grand Master of their sect as a sage, each sect trying to make its Grand Master the recognized head of the school in hopes that his authority will be acknowledged by later ages, but down to the present the dispute remains unresolved.6

Mo Ti and Ch'in Ku‑li were all right in their ideas but wrong in their practices, with the result that the Mo‑ists of later ages have felt obliged to subject themselves to hardship "till there is no down left on their calves, no hair on their shins" ‑ their only thought being to outdo one another. Such efforts represent the height of confusion, the lowest degree of order. Nevertheless, Mo Tzu was one who had a true love for the world. He failed to achieve all he aimed for, yet, wasted and worn with exhaustion, he never ceased trying. He was indeed a gentleman of ability!

To be unsnared by vulgar ways, to make no vain show of material things, to bring no hardship on others,7 to avoid offending the mob, to seek peace and security for the world, preservation of the people's lives, full provender for others as well as oneself, and to rest content when these aims are fulfilled, in this way bringing purity to the heart ‑ there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things. Sung Chien' and Yin Wen heard of their views and delighted in them. They fashioned caps in the shape of Mount Hua to be their mark of distinction.9 In dealing with the ten thousand things, they took the "defining of boundaries" to be their starting point;10 they preached liberality of mind," which they called "the mind's activity," hoping thereby to bring men together in the joy of harmony, to insure concord within the four seas. Their chief task lay, they felt, in the effort to establish these ideals. They regarded it as no shame to suffer insult, but sought to put an end to strife among the people, to outlaw aggression, to abolish the use of arms, and to rescue the world from warfare. With these aims they walked the whole world over, trying to persuade those above them and to teach those below, and though the world refused to listen, they clamored all the louder and would not give up, until men said, "High and low are sick of the sight of them, and still they demand to be seen!"

Nevertheless, they took too much thought for others and too little for themselves. "Just give us five pints of rice and that will be enough," they said, though at that rate I fear these teachers did not get their fill. Though their own disciples went hungry, however, they never forgot the rest of the world, but continued day and night without stop, saying, "We are determined to make certain that all men can live!" How lofty their aims, these saviors of the world! Again they said, "The gentleman does not examine others with too harsh an eye; he does not need material things in which to dress himself." If a particular line of inquiry seemed to bring no benefit to the world, they thought it better to abandon it than to seek an understanding of it. To outlaw aggression and abolish the use of arms ‑ these were their external aims. To lessen the desires and weaken the emotions ‑ these were their internal aims. Whether their approach was large‑scaled or small, detailed or gross, these were the goals they sought ‑ these and nothing more.

Public‑spirited and not partisan, even‑minded and not given to favoritism, vacant‑eyed, with none for a master, trailing after things without a second thought, giving not a glance to schemes, not a moment of speculation to knowledge, choosing neither this thing nor that, but going along with all of them - there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in such things. P'eng Meng, T'ien P'ien, and Shen Tao heard of their views and delighted in them.12 The Way, they believed, lay in making the ten thousand things equal. 13 "Heaven is capable of sheltering but not of bearing up," they said. "Earth is capable of bearing up but not of sheltering. The Great Way is capable of embracing all things but not of discriminating among them."14 From this they deduced that each of the ten thousand things has that which is acceptable in it and that which is not acceptable. Therefore they, said, "To choose is to forgo universality; to compare things15 is to fail to reach the goal. The Way has nothing that is left out of it."

For this reason Shen Tao discarded knowledge, did away with self, followed what he could not help but follow, acquiescent and unmeddling where things were concerned, taking this to be the principle of the Way. "To know is not to know," he said, and so he despised knowledge and worked to destroy and slough it off. Listless and lackadaisical,16 he accepted no responsibilities, but laughed at the world for honoring worthy men. Casual and uninhibited, he did nothing to distinguish himself, but disparaged the great sages of the world. Lopping off corners, chiseling away the rough places, he went tumbling and turning along with things. He put aside both right and wrong and somehow managed to stay out of trouble. With nothing to learn from knowledge or scheming, no comprehension of what comes before or after, he merely rested where he was and that was all. Pushed, he would finally begin to move; dragged, he would at last start on his way. He revolved like a whirlwind, spun like a feather, went round and round like a grindstone, keeping himself whole and free from condemnation. Without error, whether in motion or at rest, never once was he guilty of any fault. Why was this? Because a creature that is without knowledge does not face the perils that come from trying to set oneself up, the entanglements that come from relying upon knowledge. In motion or in stillness, he never departs from reason ‑ in this way he lives out his years without winning praise. Therefore Shen Tao said, "Let me become like those creatures without knowledge, that is enough.17 Such creatures have no use for the worthies or the sages. Clod‑like, they never lose the Way." The great and eminent men would get together and laugh at him, saying, "The teachings of Shen Tao are not rules for the living but ideals for a dead man. No wonder he is looked on as peculiar!"

T'ien P’ien was a similar case. He studied under P'eng Meng and learned what it means not to compare things. P'eng Meng's teacher used to say, "In ancient times the men of the Way reached the point where they regarded nothing as right and nothing as wrong ‑ that was all." But such ways are mute and muffled ‑ how can they be captured in words? P'eng Meng and T'ien P’ien always went contrary to other men and were seldom heeded. They could not seem to avoid lopping away at the corners. What they called the Way was not the true Way, and, when they said a thing was right, they could not avoid raising the possibility that it might be wrong.18' P'eng Meng, T'ien P'ien, and Shen Tao did not really understand the Way, though all had at one time heard something of what it was like.

To regard the source as pure and the things that emerge from it as coarse, to look upon accumulation as insufficiency; dwelling alone, peaceful and placid, in spiritual brightness there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things. The Barrier Keeper Yin and Lao Tan heard of their views and delighted in them.19 They expounded them in terms of constant nonbeing and being, and headed their doctrine with the concept of the Great Unity. Gentle weakness and humble self‑effacement are its outer marks; emptiness, void, and the noninjury of the ten thousand things are its essence.

The Barrier Keeper Yin said, "When a man does not dwell in self, then things will of themselves reveal their forms to him. His movement is like that of water, his stillness like that of a mirror, his responses like those of an echo. Blank‑eyed, he seems to be lost; motionless, he has the limpidity of water. Because he is one with it, he achieves harmony; should he reach out for it, he would lose it. Never does he go ahead of other men, but always follows in their wake."

Lao Tan said, "Know the male but cling to the female; become the ravine of the world. Know the pure but cling to dishonor; become the valley of the world." 20 Others all grasp what is in front; he alone grasped what is behind. He said, "Take to yourself the filth of the world." Others all grasp what is full; he alone grasped what is empty. He never stored away ‑ therefore he had more than enough; he had heaps and heaps of more than enough! In his movement he was easygoing and did not wear himself out. Dwelling in inaction, he scoffed at skill. Others all seek good fortune; he alone kept himself whole by becoming twisted. He said, "Let us somehow or other avoid incurring blame!" He took profundity to be the root and frugality to be the guideline. He said, "What is brittle will be broken, what is sharp will be blunted." He was always generous and permissive with things and inflicted no pain on others ‑ this may be called the highest achievement.

The Barrier Keeper Yin and Lao Tan ‑ with their breadth and stature, they indeed were the True Men of old!

Blank, boundless, and without form; transforming, changing, never constant: are we dead? are we alive? do we stand side by side with Heaven and earth? do we move in the company of spiritual brightness? absent‑minded, where are we going? forgetful, where are we headed for? The ten thousand things ranged all around us, not one of them is worthy to be singled out as our destination ‑ there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things. Chuang Chou heard of their views and delighted in them. He expounded them in odd and outlandish terms, in brash and bombastic language, in unbound and unbordered phrases, abandoning himself to the times without partisanship, not looking at things from one angle only. He believed that the world was drowned in turbidness and that it was impossible to address it in sober language. So he used "goblet words" to pour out endless changes, "repeated words" to give a ring of truth, and "imputed words" to impart greater breadth. He came and went alone with the pure spirit of Heaven and earth, yet he did not view the ten thousand things with arrogant eyes. He did not scold over "right" and "wrong," but lived with the age and its vulgarity. Though his writings are a string of queer beads and baubles, they roll and rattle and do no one any harm.21 Though his words seem to be at sixes and sevens, yet among the sham and waggery there are things worth observing, for they are crammed with truths that never come to an end.

Above he wandered with the Creator, below he made friends with those who have gotten outside of life and death, who know nothing of beginning or end. As for the Source, his grasp of it was broad, expansive, and penetrating; profound, liberal, and unimpeded. As for the Ancestor, he may be said to have tuned and accommodated himself to it and to have risen on it to the greatest heights. Nevertheless, in responding to change and expounding on the world of things, he set forth principles that will never cease to be valid, an approach that can never be shuffled off. Veiled and arcane, he is one who has never been completely comprehended.

Hui Shih was a man of many devices and his writings would fill five carriages. But his doctrines were jumbled and perverse and his words wide of the mark. His way of dealing with things may be seen from these sayings:

The largest thing has nothing beyond it; it is called the One of largeness. The smallest thing has nothing within it; it is called the One of smallness.

That which has no thickness cannot be piled up; yet it is a thousand li in dimension.

Heaven is as low as earth; mountains and marshes are on the same level.

The sun at noon is the sun setting. The thing born is the thing dying.

Great similarities are different from little similarities; these are called the little similarities and differences. The ten thousand things are all similar and are all different; these are called the great similarities and differences.

The southern region has no limit and yet has a limit.

I set off for Yueh today and came there yesterday.22

Linked rings can be separated.

I know the center of the world: it is north of Yen and south of Yueh.23

Let love embrace the ten thousand things; Heaven and earth are a single body.

With savings such as these, Hui Shih tried to introduce a more magnanimous view of the world and to enlighten the rhetoricians. The rhetoricians of the world happily joined in with the following sayings:

An egg has feathers.

A chicken has three legs.24

Ying contains the whole world.25

A dog can be considered a sheep.

Horses lay eggs.

Toads have tails.

Fire is not hot.26

Mountains come out of the mouth .27

Wheels never touch the ground.

Eyes do not see.

Pointing to it never gets to it; if it got to it, there would be no separation.28

The tortoise is longer than the snake.

T squares are not right‑angled; compasses cannot make circles.

Holes for chisel handles do not surround the handles.

The flying bird's shadow never moves.

No matter how swift the barbed arrow, there are times when it is neither moving nor at rest.

A dog is not a canine.

A yellow horse and a black cow make three.

White dogs are black.

The orphan colt never had a mother.

Take a pole one foot long, cut away half of it every day, and at the end of ten thousand generations there will still be some left.

Such were the sayings which the rhetoricians used in answer to Hui Shih, rambling on without stop till the end of their days. Huan Tuan and Kung‑sun Lung were among such rhetoricians.29 Dazzling men's minds, unsettling their views, they could outdo others in talking, but could not make them submit in their minds ‑ such were the limitations of the rhetoricians.

Hui Shih day after day used all the knowledge he had in his debates with others, deliberately thinking up ways to astonish the rhetoricians of the world ‑ the examples above will illustrate this. Nevertheless, Hui Shih's manner of speaking showed that he considered himself the ablest man alive. "Heaven and earth ‑ perhaps they are greater!" he used to declare. All he knew how to do was play the hero; he had no real art.

In the south there was an eccentric named Huang Liao who asked why Heaven and earth do not collapse and crumble, or what makes the wind and rain, the thunder and lightning. Hui Shih, undaunted, undertook to answer him; without stopping to think, he began to reply, touching upon every one of the ten thousand things in his peroration, expounding on and on without stop in multitudes of words that never ended. But still it was not enough, and so he began to add on his astonishing assertions. Whatever contradicted other men's views he declared to be the truth, hoping to win a reputation for outwitting others. This was why he never got along with ordinary people. Weak in inner virtue, strong in his concern for external things, he walked a road that was crooked indeed! If we examine Hui Shih's accomplishments from the point of view of the Way of Heaven and earth, they seem like the exertions of a mosquito or a gnat ‑ of what use are they to other things? True, he still deserves to be regarded as the founder of one school, though I say, if he had only shown greater respect for the Way, he would have come nearer being right. Hui Shih, however, could not seem to find any tranquillity for himself in such an approach. Instead he went on tirelessly separating and analyzing the ten thousand things, and in the end was known only for his skill in exposition. What a pity ‑ that Hui Shih abused and dissipated his talents without ever really achieving anything! Chasing after the ten thousand things, never turning back, he was like one who tries to shout an echo into silence or to prove that form can outrun shadow. How sad!