Section FIVE - THE SIGN OF VIRTUE COMPLETE
IN LU THERE WAS A MAN named Wang Tai who had had his foot cut off.' He had as many followers gathered around him as Confucius.
Ch'ang Chi asked Confucius, "This Wang T'ai who's lost a foot ‑ how does he get to divide up Lu with you, Master, and make half of it his disciples? He doesn't stand up and teach, he doesn't sit down and discuss, yet they go to him empty and come home full. Does he really have some wordless teaching, some formless way of bringing the mind to completion? What sort of man is he?"
Confucius said, "This gentleman is a sage. It's just that I've been tardy and haven't gone to see him yet. But if I go to him as my teacher, how much more should those who are not my equals! Why only the state of Lu? I'll bring the whole world along and we'll all become his followers!"
Ch'ang Chi said, "If he's lost a foot and is still superior to the Master, then how far above the common run of men he must be! A man like that ‑ what unique way does he have of using his mind?"
Confucius said, "Life and death are great affairs, and yet they are no change to him. Though heaven and earth flop over and fall down, it is no loss to him. He sees clearly into what has no falsehood and does not shift with things. He takes it as fate that things should change, and he holds fast to the source."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Ch'ang Chi.
Confucius said, "If you look at them from the point of view of their differences, then there is liver and gall, Ch'u and Yueh. But if you look at them from the point of view of their sameness, then the ten thousand things are all one. A man like this doesn't know what his ears or eyes should approve ‑ he lets his mind play in the harmony of virtue. As for things, he sees them as one and does not see their loss. He regards the loss of a foot as a lump of earth thrown away."
Ch'ang Chi said, "In the way he goes about it, he uses his knowledge to get at his mind, and uses his mind to get at the constant mind. Why should things gather around him?"
Confucius said, "Men do not mirror themselves in running water ‑ they mirror themselves in still water. Only what is still can still the stillness of other things. Of those that receive life from the earth, the pine and cypress alone are best ‑ they stay as green as ever in winter or summer. Of those that receive life from Heaven, Yao and Shun alone are best ‑ they stand at the head of the ten thousand things. Luckily they were able to order their lives, and thereby order the lives of other things. Proof that a man is holding fast to the beginning lies in the fact of his fearlessness. A brave soldier will plunge alone into the midst of nine armies. He seeks fame and can bring himself to this. How much more, then, is possible for a man who governs Heaven and earth, stores up the ten thousand things, lets the six parts of his body2 be only a dwelling, makes ornaments of his ears and eyes, unifies the knowledge of what he knows, and in his mind never tastes death. He will soon choose the day and ascend far off. Men may become his followers, but how could he be willing to bother himself about things?"
Shen‑t'u Chia, who had lost a foot, was studying under Pohun Wu‑jen along with Tzu‑ch'an of Cheng.3 Tzu‑ch'an said to Shen‑t'u Chia, "If I go out first, you stay behind, and if you go out first, I'll stay behind."
Next day the two of them were again sitting on the same mat in the small hall. Tzu‑ch'an said to Shen‑t'u Chia, "If I go out first, you stay behind, and if you go out first, I'll stay behind! Now I will go out. Are you going to stay behind or aren't you? When you see a prime minister, you don't even get out of the way ‑ do you think you're the equal of a prime minister?"
Shen‑t'u Chia said, "Within the gates of the Master, is there any such thing as a prime minister? You take delight in being a prime minister and pushing people behind you. But I've heard that if the mirror is bright, no dust settles on it; if dust settles, it isn't really bright. When you live around worthy men a long time, you'll be free of faults. You regard the Master as a great man, and yet you talk like this ‑ it's not right, is it?"
Tzu‑ch'an said, "You, a man like this ‑ and still you claim to be better than a Yao! Take a look at your virtue and see if it's not enough to give you cause to reflect!"
Shen‑t'u Chia said, "People who excuse their faults and claim they didn't deserve to be punished ‑ there are lots of them. But those who don't excuse their faults and who admit they didn't deserve to be spared ‑ they are few. To know what you can't do anything about, and to be content with it as you would with fate ‑ only a man of virtue can do that. If you play around in front of Archer Yi's target, you're right in the way of the arrows, and if you don't get hit, it's a matter of fate. There are lots of men with two feet who laugh at me for having only one. It makes me boil with rage, but I come here to the Master's place and I feel calmed down again and go home. I don't know whether he washes me clean with goodness, or whether I come to understand things by myself. The Master and I have been friends for nineteen years and he's never once let on that he's aware I'm missing a foot. Now you and I are supposed to be wandering outside the realm of forms and bodies, and you come looking for me inside it4 ‑ you're at fault, aren't you?"
Tzu‑ch'an squirmed, changed his expression, and put a different look on his face. "Say no more about it," he said.
In Lu there was a man named Shu‑shan No‑Toes who had had his foot cut off. Stumping along, he went to see Confucius.
"You weren't careful enough!" said Confucius. "Since you've already broken the law and gotten yourself into trouble like this, what do you expect to gain by coming to me now?"
No‑Toes said, "I just didn't understand my duty and was too careless of my body, and so I lost a foot. But I've come now because I still have something that is worth more than a foot and I want to try to hold on to it. There is nothing that heaven doesn't cover, nothing that earth doesn't bear up. I supposed, Master, that you would be like heaven and earth. How did I know you would act like this?"
"It was stupid of me," said Confucius. "Please, Sir, won't you come in? I'd like to describe to you what I have learned."
But No‑Toes went out.
Confucius said, "Be diligent, my disciples! Here is No‑Toes, a man who has had his foot cut off, and still he's striving to learn so he can make up for the evil of his former conduct. How much more, then, should men whose virtue is still unimpaired!"
No‑Toes told the story to Lao Tan. "Confucius certainly hasn't reached the stage of a Perfect Man, has he? What does he mean coming around so obsequiously to study with you? 5 He is after the sham illusion of fame and reputation and doesn't know that the Perfect Man looks on these as so many handcuffs and fetters!"
Lao Tan said, "Why don't you just make him see that life and death are the same story, that acceptable and unacceptable are on a single string? Wouldn't it be well to free him from his handcuffs and fetters?"
No‑Toes said, "When Heaven has punished him, how can you set him free?"
Duke Ai of Lu said to Confucius, "In Wei there was an ugly man named Ai T'ai‑t'o. But when men were around him, they thought only of him and couldn't break away, and when women saw him, they ran begging to their fathers and mothers, saying, `I'd rather be this gentleman's concubine than another man's wife!' ‑ there were more than ten such cases and it hasn't stopped yet. No one ever heard him take the lead ‑ he always just chimed in with other people. He wasn't in the position of a ruler where he could save men's lives, and he had no store of provisions to fill men's bellies. On top of that, he was ugly enough to astound the whole world, chimed in but never led, and knew no more than what went on right around him. And yet men and women flocked to him. He certainly must be different from other men, I thought, and I summoned him so I could have a look. Just as they said ‑ he was ugly enough to astound the world. But he hadn't been with me more than a month or so when I began to realize what kind of man he was, and before the year was out, I really trusted him. There was no one in the state to act as chief minister, and I wanted to hand the government over to him. He was vague about giving an answer, evasive, as though he hoped to be let off, and I was embarrassed, but in the end I turned the state over to him. Then, before I knew it, he left me and went away. I felt completely crushed, as though I'd suffered a loss and didn't have anyone left to enjoy my state with. What kind of man is he anyway?"
Confucius said, "I once went on a mission to Ch'u, and as I was going along, I saw some little pigs nursing at the body of their dead mother. After a while, they gave a start and all ran away and left her, because they could no longer see their likeness in her; she was not the same as she had been before. In loving their mother, they loved not her body but the thing that moved her body. When a man has been killed in battle and people come to bury him, he has no use for his medals. When a man has had his feet amputated, he doesn't care much about shoes. For both, the thing that is basic no longer exists. When women are selected to be consorts of the Son of Heaven, their nails are not pared and their ears are not pierced. When a man has just taken a wife, he is kept in posts outside [the palace] and is no longer sent on [dangerous] missions.6 If so much care is taken to keep the body whole, how much more in the case of a man whose virtue is whole? Now Ai T'ai‑t'o says nothing and is trusted, accomplishes nothing and is loved, so that people want to turn over their states to him and are only afraid he won't accept. It must be that his powers are whole, though his virtue takes no form."
"What do you mean when you say his powers are whole?" asked Duke Ai.
Confucius said, "Life, death, preservation, loss, failure, success, poverty, riches, worthiness, unworthiness, slander, fame, hunger, thirst, cold, heat ‑ these are the alternations of the world, the workings of fate. Day and night they change place before us and wisdom cannot spy out their source. Therefore, they should not be enough to destroy your harmony; they should not be allowed to enter the Spirit Storehouse.7 If you can harmonize and delight in them, master them and never be at a loss for joy, if you can do this day and night without break and make it be spring with everything, mingling with all and creating the moment within your own mind ‑ this is what I call being whole in power."
"What do you mean when you say his virtue takes no form?"
"Among level things, water at rest is the most perfect, and therefore it can serve as a standard. It guards what is inside and shows no movement outside. Virtue is the establishment of perfect harmony. Though virtue takes no form, things cannot break away from it."
Some days later, Duke Ai reported his conversation to Min Tzu." "At first, when I faced south and became ruler of the realm, I tried to look after the regulation of the people and worried that they might die. I really thought I understood things perfectly. But now that I've heard the words of a Perfect Man, I'm afraid there was nothing to my understanding - I was thinking too little of my own welfare and ruining the state. Confucius and I are not subject and ruler‑we are friends in virtue, that's all."
Mr. Lame‑Hunchback‑No‑Lips talked to Duke Ling of Wei, and Duke Ling was so pleased with him that when he looked at normal men he thought their necks looked too lean and skinny.9 Mr. Pitcher‑Sized‑Wen talked to Duke Huan of Ch'i, and Duke Huan was so pleased with him that when he looked at normal men he thought their necks looked too lean and skinny. Therefore, if virtue is preeminent, the body will be forgotten. But when men do not forget what can be forgotten, but forget what cannot be forgotten ‑ that may be called true forgetting.
So the sage has his wanderings. For him, knowledge is an offshoot, promises are glue, favors are a patching up, and skill is a peddler. The sage hatches no schemes, so what use has he for knowledge? He does no carving, so what use has he for glue? He suffers no loss, so what use has he for favors? He hawks no goods, so what use has he for peddling? These four are called Heavenly Gruel. Heavenly Gruel is the food of Heaven, and if he's already gotten food from Heaven, what use does he have for men? He has the form of a man but not the feelings of a man. Since he has the form of a man, he bands together with other men. Since he doesn't have the feelings of a man, right and wrong cannot get at him. Puny and small, he sticks with the rest of men. Massive and great, he perfects his Heaven alone.
Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "Can a man really be without feelings?"
Chuang Tzu: "Yes."
Hui Tzu: "But a man who has no feelings‑how can you call him a man?"
Chuang Tzu: "The Way gave him a face; Heaven gave him a form ‑ why can't you call him a man?"
Hui Tzu: "But if you've already called him a man, how can he be without feelings?"
Chuang Tzu: "That's not what I mean by feelings. When I talk about having no feelings, I mean that a man doesn't allow likes or dislikes to get in and do him harm. He just lets things be the way they are and doesn't try to help life along."
Hui Tzu: "If he doesn't try to help life along, then how can he keep himself alive?"
Chuang Tzu: "The Way gave him a face; Heaven gave him a form. He doesn't let likes or dislikes get in and do him harm. You, now ‑ you treat your spirit like an outsider. You wear out your energy, leaning on a tree and moaning, slumping at your desk and dozing ‑ Heaven picked out a body for you and you use it to gibber about `hard' and `white'!" 10
THE GREAT AND VENERABLE TEACHER
HE WHO KNOWS WHAT IT Is that Heaven does, and knows what it is that man does, has reached the peak. Knowing what it is that Heaven does, he lives with Heaven. Knowing what it is that man does, he uses the knowledge of what he knows to help out the knowledge of what he doesn't know, and lives out the years that Heaven gave him without being cut off midway‑this is the perfection of knowledge.
However, there is a difficulty. Knowledge must wait for something before it can be applicable, and that which it waits for is never certain. How, then, can I know that what I call Heaven is not really man, and what I call man is not really Heaven? There must first be a True Man' before there can be true knowledge.
What do I mean by a True Man? The True Man of ancient times did not rebel against want, did not grow proud in plenty, and did not plan his affairs. A man like this could commit an error and not regret it, could meet with success and not make a show. A man like this could climb the high places and not be frightened, could enter the water and not get wet, could enter the fire and not get burned. His knowledge was able to climb all the way up to the Way like this.
The True Man of ancient times slept without dreaming and woke without care; he ate without savoring and his breath
1 Another term for the Taoist sage, synonymous with the Perfect Wan or the Holy Man.