Section SIX - 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 came from deep inside. The True Man breathes with his heels; the mass of men breathe with their throats. Crushed and bound down, they gasp out their words as though they were retching. Deep in their passions and desires, they are shallow in the workings of Heaven.
The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death. He emerged without delight; he went back in without a fuss. He came briskly, he went briskly, and that was all. He didn't forget where he began; he didn't try to find out where he would end. He received something and took pleasure in it; he forgot about it and handed it back again. This is what I call not using the mind to repel the Way, not using man to help out Heaven. This is what I call the True Man.
Since he is like this, his mind forgets;2 his face is calm; his forehead is broad. He is chilly like autumn, balmy like spring, and his joy and anger prevail through the four seasons. He goes along with what is right for things and no one knows his limit. Therefore, when the sage calls out the troops, he may overthrow nations but he will not lose the hearts of the people. His bounty enriches ten thousand ages but he has no love for men. Therefore he who delights in bringing success to things is not a sage; he who has affections is not benevolent; he who looks for the right time is not a worthy man; he who cannot encompass both profit and loss is not a gentleman; he who thinks of conduct and fame and misleads himself is not a man of breeding; and he who destroys himself and is without truth is not a user of men. Those like Hu Pu‑hsieh, Wu Kuang, Po Yi, Shu Ch'i, Chi Tzu, Hsu Yu, Chi T'o, and Shen‑t'u Ti‑all of them slaved in the service of other men, took joy in bringing other men joy, but could not find joy in any joy of their own.3
This was the True Man of old: his bearing was lofty and did not crumble; he appeared to lack but accepted nothing; he was dignified in his correctness but not insistent; he was vast in his emptiness but not ostentatious. Mild and cheerful, he seemed to be happy; reluctant, he could not help doing certain things; annoyed, he let it show in his face; relaxed, he rested in his virtue. Tolerant,4 he seemed to be part of the world; towering alone, he could be checked by nothing; withdrawn, he seemed to prefer to cut himself off; bemused, he forgot what he was going to say.5
He regarded penalties as the body, rites as the wings, wisdom as what is timely, virtue as what is reasonable. Because he regarded penalties as the body, he was benign in his killing. Because he regarded rites as the wings, he got along in the world. Because he regarded wisdom as what is timely, there were things that he could not keep from doing. Because he regarded virtue as what is reasonable, he was like a man with two feet who gets to the top of the hill. And yet people really believed that he worked hard to get there.6
Therefore his liking was one and his not liking was one. His being one was one and his not being one was one. In being one, he was acting as a companion of Heaven. In not being one, he was acting as a companion of man. When man and Heaven do not defeat each other, then we may be said to have the True Man.
Life and death are fated ‑ constant as the succession of dark and dawn, a matter of Heaven. There are some things which man can do nothing about ‑ all are a matter of the nature of creatures. If a man is willing to regard Heaven as a father and to love it, then how much more should he be willing to do for that which is even greater! 7 If he is willing to regard the ruler as superior to himself and to die for him, then how much more should he be willing to do for the Truth!
When the springs dry up and the fish are left stranded on the ground, they spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit ‑ but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes. Instead of praising Yao and condemning Chieh, it would be better to forget both of them and transform yourself with the Way.
The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death.8
You hide your boat in the ravine and your fish net9 in the swamp and tell yourself that they will be safe. But in the middle of the night a strong man shoulders them and carries them off, and in your stupidity you don't know why it happened. You think you do right to hide little things in big ones, and yet they get away from you. But if you were to hide the world in the world, so that nothing could get away, this would be the final reality of the constancy of things.
You have had the audacity to take on human form and you are delighted. But the human form has ten thousand changes that never come to an end. Your joys, then, must be uncountable. Therefore, the sage wanders in the realm where things cannot get away from him, and all are preserved. He delights in early death; he delights in old age; he delights in the beginning; he delights in the end. If he can serve as a model for men, how much more so that which the ten thousand things are tied to and all changes alike wait upon!
The Way has its reality and its signs but is without action or form. You can hand it down but you cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source, its own root. Before Heaven and earth existed it was there, firm from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God; it gave birth to Heaven and to earth. It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it deep. It was born before Heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.
Hsi‑wei got it and held up heaven and earth.10 Fu Hsi got it and entered into the mother of breath. The Big Dipper got it and from ancient times has never wavered. The Sun and Moon got it and from ancient times have never rested. K'an-p'i got it and entered K'un‑lun. P’ing‑i got it and wandered in the great river. Chien Wu got it and lived in the great mountain.11 The Yellow Emperor got it and ascended to the cloudy heavens. Chuan Hsu got it and dwelt in the Dark Palace. Yu‑ch'iang got it and stood at the limit of the north. The Queen Mother of the West got it and took her seat on Shaokuang ‑ nobody knows her beginning, nobody knows her end. P'eng‑tsu got it and lived from the age of Shun to the age of the Five Dictators.12 Fu Yueh got it and became minister to Wu‑ting, who extended his rule over the whole world; then Fu Yueh climbed up to the Eastern Governor, straddled the Winnowing Basket and the Tail, and took his place among the ranks of stars. 13
Nan‑po Tzu‑k'uei said to the Woman Crookback, "You are old in years and yet your complexion is that of a child. Why is this?"
"I have heard the Way!"
"Can the Way be learned?" asked Nan‑po Tzu‑k'uei.
"Goodness, how could that be? Anyway, you aren't the man to do it. Now there's Pu‑liang Yi ‑ he has the talent of a sage but not the Way of a sage, whereas I have the Way of a sage but not the talent of a sage. I thought I would try to teach him and see if I could really get anywhere near to making him a sage. It's easier to explain the Way of a sage to someone who has the talent of a sage, you know. So I began explaining and kept at him for three days, 14 and after that he was able to put the world outside himself. When he had put the world outside himself, I kept at him for seven days more, and after that he was able to put things outside himself. When he had put things outside himself, I kept at him for nine davs more, and after that he was able to put life outside himself. After he had put life outside himself, he was able to achieve the brightness of dawn, and when he had achieved the brightness of dawn, he could see his own aloneness. After he had managed to see his own aloneness, he could do away with past and present, and after he had done away with past and present, he was able to enter where there is no life and no death. That which kills life does not die; that which gives life to life does not live. 15 This is the kind of thing it is: there's nothing it doesn't send off, nothing it doesn't welcome, nothing it doesn't destroy, nothing it doesn't complete. Its name is Peace‑in‑Strife. After the strife, it attains completion."
Nan‑po Tzu‑k'uei asked, "Where did you happen to hear this? "
"I heard it from the son of Aided‑by‑Ink, and Aided‑by‑Ink heard it from the grandson of Repeated‑Recitation, and the grandson of Repeated‑Recitation heard it from Seeing‑Brightly, and Seeing‑Brightly heard it from Whispered‑Agreement, and Whispered‑Agreement heard it from Waiting‑for‑Use, and Waiting‑for‑Use heard it from Exclaimed‑Wonder, and Exclaimed‑Wonder heard it from Dark‑Obscurity, and Dark-Obscurity heard it from Participation‑in‑Mystery, and Participation‑in‑Mystery heard it from Copy‑the‑Source!" 16
Master Ssu, Master Yu, Master Li, and Master Lai were all four talking together. "Who can look upon nonbeing as his head, on life as his back, and on death as his rump?" they said. "Who knows that life and death, existence and annihilation, are all a single body? I will be his friend!"
The four men looked at each other and smiled. There was no disagreement in their hearts and so the four of them became friends.
All at once Master Yu fell ill. Master Ssu went to ask how he was. "Amazing" said Master Yu. "The Creator is making me all crookedy like this! My back sticks up like a hunchback and my vital organs are on top of me. My chin is hidden in my navel, my shoulders are up above my head, and my pigtail points at the sky. It must be some dislocation of the yin and yang!"
Yet he seemed calm at heart and unconcerned. Dragging himself haltingly to the well, he looked at his reflection and said, "My, my! So the Creator is making me all crookedy like this!"
"Do you resent it?" asked Master Ssu.
"Why no, what would I resent? If the process continues, perhaps in time he'll transform my left arm into a rooster. In that case I'll keep watch on the night. Or perhaps in time he'll transform my right arm into a crossbow pellet and I'll shoot down an owl for roasting. Or perhaps in time he'll transform my buttocks into cartwheels. Then, with my spirit for a horse, I'll climb up and go for a ride. What need will I ever have for a carriage again?
"I received life because the time had come; I will lose it because the order of things passes on. Be content with this time and dwell in this order and then neither sorrow nor joy can touch you. In ancient times this was called the `freeing of the bound.' There are those who cannot free themselves, because they are bound by things. But nothing can ever win against Heaven ‑ that's the way it's always been. What would I have to resent?"
Suddenly Master Lai grew ill. Gasping and wheezing, he lay at the point of death. His wife and children gathered round in a circle and began to cry. Master Li, who had come to ask how he was, said, "Shoo! Get back! Don't disturb the process of change!"
Then he leaned against the doorway and talked to Master Lai. "How marvelous the Creator is! What is he going to make of you next? Where is he going to send you? Will he make you into a rat's liver? Will he make you into a bug's arm?"
Master Lai said, "A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang ‑ how much more are they to a man than father or mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death. When a skilled smith is casting metal, if the metal should leap up and say, `I insist upon being made into a Mo‑yeh!' 17 he would surely regard it as very inauspicious metal indeed. Now, having had the audacity to take on human form once, if I should say, `I don't want to be anything but a man! Nothing but a man!', the Creator would surely regard me as a most inauspicious sort of person. So now I think of heaven and earth as a great furnace, and the Creator as a skilled smith. Where could he send me that would not be all right? I will go off to sleep peacefully, and then with a start I will wake up."
Master Sang‑hu, Meng‑tzu Fan, and Master Chin‑chang, three friends, said to each other, "Who can join with others without joining with others? Who can do with others without doing with others? Who can climb up to heaven and wander in the mists, roam the infinite, and forget life forever and forever?" The three men looked at each other and smiled. There was no disagreement in their hearts and so they became friends.
After some time had passed without event, Master Sang‑hu died. He had not yet been buried when Confucius, hearing of his death, sent Tzu‑kung to assist at the funeral. When Tzu‑kung arrived, he found one of the dead man's friends weaving frames for silkworms, while the other strummed a lute. Joining their voices, they sang this song:
You have gone back to your true form
While we remain as men, O!
Tzu‑kung hastened forward and said, "May I be so bold as to ask what sort of ceremony this is ‑ singing in the very presence of the corpse?"
The two men looked at each other and laughed. "What does this man know of the meaning of ceremony?" they said.
Tzu‑kung returned and reported to Confucius what had happened. "What sort of men are they anyway?" he asked. "They pay no attention to proper behavior, disregard their personal appearance and, without so much as changing the expression on their faces, sing in the very presence of the corpse! I can think of no name for them! What sort of men are they?"
"Such men as they," said Confucius, "wander beyond the realm; men like me wander within it. Beyond and within can never meet. It was stupid of me to send you to offer condolences. Even now they have joined with the Creator as men to wander in the single breath of heaven and earth. They look upon life as a swelling tumor, a protruding wen, and upon death as the draining of a sore or the bursting of a boil. To men such as these, how could there be any question of putting life first or death last? They borrow the forms of different creatures and house them in the same body. They forget liver and gall, cast aside ears and eyes, turning and revolving, ending and beginning again, unaware of where they start or finish. Idly they roam beyond the dust and dirt; they wander free and easy in the service of inaction. Why should they fret and fuss about the ceremonies of the vulgar world and make a display for the ears and eyes of the common herd?"
Tzu‑kung said, "Well then, Master, what is this `realm' that you stick to?"
Confucius said, "I am one of those men punished by Heaven. Nevertheless, I will share with you what I have."
"Then may I ask about the realm?" 18 said Tzu‑kung.
Confucius said, "Fish thrive in water, man thrives in the Way. For those that thrive in water, dig a pond and they will find nourishment enough. For those that thrive in the Way, don't bother about them and their lives will be secure. So it is said, the fish forget each other in the rivers and lakes, and men forget each other in the arts of the Way."
Tzu‑kung said, "May I ask about the singular man?"
"The singular man is singular in comparison to other men, but a companion of Heaven. So it is said, the petty man of Heaven is a gentleman among men; the gentleman among men is the petty man of Heaven."
Yen Hui said to Confucius, "When Meng‑sun Ts'ai's mother died, he wailed without shedding any tears, he did not grieve in his heart, and he conducted the funeral without any look of sorrow. He fell down on these three counts, and yet he is known all over the state of Lu for the excellent way he managed the funeral. Is it really possible to gain such a reputation when there are no facts to support it? I find it very peculiar indeed!"
Confucius said, "Meng‑sun did all there was to do. He was advanced beyond ordinary understanding and he would have simplified things even more, but that wasn't practical. However, there is still a lot that he simplified. Meng‑sun doesn't know why he lives and doesn't know why he dies. He doesn't know why he should go ahead; he doesn't know why he should fall behind. In the process of change, he has become a thing [among other things], and he is merely waiting for some other change that he doesn't yet know about. Moreover, when he is changing, how does he know that he is really changing? And when he is not changing, how does he know that he hasn't already changed? You and I, now ‑ we are dreaming and haven't waked up yet. But in his case, though something may startle his body, it won't injure his mind; though something may alarm the house [his spirit lives in], his emotions will suffer no death. Meng‑sun alone has waked up. Men wail and so he wails, too ‑ that's the reason he acts like this.
"What's more, we go around telling each other, I do this, I do that ‑ but how do we know that this `I' we talk about has any `I' to it? You dream you're a bird and soar up into the sky; you dream you're a fish and dive down in the pool. But now when you tell me about it, I don't know whether you are awake or whether you are dreaming. Running around accusing others19 is not as good as laughing, and enjoying a good laugh is not as good as going along with things. Be content to go along and forget about change and then you can enter the mysterious oneness of Heaven."
Yi Erh‑tzu went to see Hsu Yu.20 Hsu Yu said, "What kind of assistance has Yao been giving you?"
Yi Erh‑tzu said, "Yao told me, `You must learn to practice benevolence and righteousness and to speak clearly about right and wrong!'"
"Then why come to see me?" said Hsu Yu. "Yao has already tattooed you with benevolence and righteousness and cut off your nose with right and wrong.21 Now how do you expect to go wandering in any far‑away, carefree, and as‑you-like‑it paths?"
"That may be," said Yi Erh‑tzu. "But I would like if I may to wander in a little corner of them."
"Impossible!" said Hsu Yu. "Eyes that are blind have no way to tell the loveliness of faces and features; eyes with no pupils have no way to tell the beauty of colored and embroidered silks."
Yi Erh‑tzu said, "Yes, but Wu‑chuang forgot her beauty, Chu‑liang forgot his strength, and the Yellow Emperor forgot his wisdom ‑ all were content to be recast and remolded .22 How do you know that the Creator will not wipe away my tattoo, stick my nose back on again, and let me ride on the process of completion and follow after you, Master?"
"Ah - we can never tell," said Hsu Y u. "I will just speak to you about the general outline. This Teacher of mine, this Teacher of mine - he passes judgment on the ten thousand things but he doesn't think himself righteous; his bounty extends to ten thousand generations but he doesn't think himself benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity but he doesn't think himself long-lived; he covers heaven, bears up the earth, carves and fashions countless forms, but he doesn't think himself skilled. It is with him alone I wander."
Yen Hui said, "I'm improving!"
Confucius said, "What do you mean by that?"
"I've forgotten benevolence and righteousness!"
"That's good. But you still haven't got it."
Another day, the two met again and Yen Hui said, "I'm improving!"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I've forgotten rites and music!"
"That's good. But you still haven't got it."
Another day, the two met again and Yen Hui said, "I'm improving! "
"What do you mean by that?"
"I can sit down and forget everything!"
Confucius looked very startled and said, "What do you mean, sit down and forget everything.'-"
Yen Hui said, "I smash up my limbs and body, drive out perception and intellect, cast off form, do away with understanding, and make myself identical with the Great Thoroughfare. This is what I mean by sitting down and forgetting everything."
Confucius said, "If you're identical with it, you must have no more likes! If you've been transformed, you must have no more constancy! So you really are a worthy man after all! 23 With your permission, I'd like to become your follower."
Master Yu and Master Sang were friends. Once it rained incessantly for ten days. Master Yu said to himself, Master Sang is probably having a bad time, and he wrapped up some rice and took it for his friend to eat. When he got to Master Sang's gate, he heard something like singing or crying, and someone striking a lute and saying:
It was as though the voice would not hold out and the singer were rushing to get through the words.
Master Yu went inside and said, "What do you mean - singing a song like that!"
"I was pondering what it is that has brought me to this extremity, but I couldn't find the answer. My father and mother surely wouldn't wish this poverty on me. Heaven covers all without partiality; earth bears up all without partiality - heaven and earth surely wouldn't single me out to make me poor. I try to discover who is doing it, but I can't get the answer. Still, here I am - at the very extreme. It must be fate."