The Hsiâo-yâo in the title of this Book denotes the appearance of perfect ease and satisfaction. The Yû, which conveys the idea of wandering or rambling about, is to be understood of the enjoyment of the mind. The three characters describe the chief characteristic of our 'Old Kwang's' life, and therefore he placed the Book at the beginning of his more finished compositions or essays.
But when one wishes to enjoy himself in the fullest and freest way, he must first have before him a view like that of the wide sea or of the expanse of the air, in order that his mind may be free from all restraint, and from the entanglements of the world, and that it may respond in the fitting way to everything coming before it:--it is only what is Great that can enter into this enjoyment. Throughout the whole Book, the word Great has a significant force.
In paragraph 1 we are presented with the illustration of the phäng. Long was the journey which it would undertake, when it contemplated removing to the South. That it required a wind of 90,000 lî to support it, and even then only rested after a flight of six months, was owing to its own Great size, and also because the Southern Ocean was not to be easily reached by a single effort.
What is said, in paragraph 2, about men, when going anywhere, proportioning the provisions which they take
with them to the length of the journey has the same meaning. How should such creatures as the cicada and the little dove be able to know this? Knowledge is great or small, because the years of the parties are many or few:--so it is that one is inferior to another. Have they not heard of the ming-ling and tâ-khun, which make their spring and autumn for themselves? And so does the phäng, as we may understand. Its not resting till the end of six months is really not a long time to it. The case of Phäng Zû is not worth being taken into account.
This description of the greatness of the phäng is not any fabrication of our author's own, nor any statement peculiar to the Khî Hsieh. The same things are told in the 'Questions of Thang to Kî,' as in paragraph 3.
As to the long journey of the phäng and the marsh-quail's laughing at it, that is not different from what the other two little creatures said above;--arising simply from the difference between the great and the small. And what difference is there between this and the case of those who enjoy themselves for a season in the world? Yung-dze of Sung is introduced (and immediately dismissed), as not having planted himself in the right position, and not being Great. Then Lieh-dze is brought forward, and dismissed as not being Great, because he had something to wait for. It is only he who rides on the twofold primal ether of the Yin and Yang, driving along with the six elements through all their changes as they wax and wane, and enjoying himself at the gate of death, that can be pronounced Great. This is what is called the Perfect Man; the Spirit-like Man; and the Sage Man.
In illustration of this, as instances of the Great Man, we have, in paragraph 4, Hsü Yû, regardless of the name; the personage on the hill of Kû-shih, in paragraph 5, with no thought of the services he could perform; and Yâo with his deep-sunk eyes, in paragraph 6, no longer thinking much of his throne, and regardless of himself. All these characteristics could be used, and made their possessor great; but let not this lead to a suspicion of greatness as
incompatible with usefulness. As a caution against this, we have, in paragraph 7, the salve to keep the hands from being chapped;--a Great thing when used properly, but of little value when not so used. Let those who exercise their minds look at this:--should they not seek to be useful, and so become Great? We have also the weasel and the yak, the one of which gets into trouble by its being of use, while the other escapes harm by its being of no use. Let those who have work to do in the world look at this. The Great calabash and the Great tree are, each of them, a phäng:--why may we not abandon ourselves to our natural feeling of enjoyment in connexion with them? Let men be satisfied with their Greatness and seek for nothing more.
As to the style of the Book, the sudden statement and the sudden proof; the sudden illustration and the sudden reasoning; the decision, made to appear as no decision; the connexion, now represented as no connexion; the repetition, turning out to be no repetition:--these features come and go on the paragraphs, like the clouds in the open firmament, changing every moment and delightful to behold.
Lû Fang-hû describes it well:--'The guiding thread in the unspun floss; the snake sleeping in the grass.'
In writings intended to throw light on the Tâo we find many different views, affirmations on one side and denials on the other. These may be called Controversies, and the reason why they are not adjusted is that every one will hold fast to his own view. But every peculiar view arises from the holder's knowledge. Such knowledge, however, tends to the injury of his mind, and serves no purpose, good or bad, in illustrating the nature of the Tâo;--it only increases the confusion of controversy. Hence when we wish to adjust controversies, we must use our knowledge well; and to use our knowledge well, we must stop at the point beyond which it does not extend.
In this whole Book knowing and not knowing is the thread that runs through it, (and binds its parts together). The expressions about men's being 'in darkness,' in paragraph 2, and the Tâo's being 'obscure,' in paragraph 3, indicate the want of knowledge; those, also in paragraph 3, about 'the light of the mind,' and 'throwing that light on a subject,' indicate the good use of knowledge; those, in paragraph 5, about 'the scintillations of light from the midst of confusion and perplexity,' and 'the store of light,' in paragraph 7, indicate the stopping at the point to which our knowledge does not extend. And what is to be done when we stop at this point? Nothing more can be done; we have simply, as it is said in paragraph 6, to stop here.
When Nan-kwo Dze-khî says, in paragraph 1, 'I had lost myself,' he fully expresses the subject-matter of the Book. If we think that the affirmations and denials made by men's minds are fictions, made out from nothing to be something, that is like the myriad different sounds of the wind, suddenly appearing in their innumerable variations. But who is it that produces all these sounds? As is said in paragraph 2, they are 'the sounds of Earth which are really the notes of Heaven.' The minds of men speak from their possession of knowledge. However great or small their words may be, they are all of their own making. A discourse under a thousand Heads with a myriad Particulars, suddenly arising and as suddenly stopping, may suggest the idea of what we call 'a True Ruler.' But the idea is vague, and though our knowledge does not reach to such a subject, men toil their intelligence to the end of their lives, never stopping till both mind and body are exhausted. What is the reason of this? It is because they have their 'minds completely made up (par. 3).'
Now if words were like the chirpings of very young birds that come upon the ear, there would be no difference between them as regards truth or falsehood, right or wrong; but there is some obscuring influence, through which the different views of the Literati and Mohists are produced, with their confusion and uncertainty. All this is because
the parties do not use their knowledge well. In their controversies each looks at the other's view only from his own standpoint, and throwing on the subject from that the light of Heaven, thus emptily replying to one another without end. And is this purposely intended to make a violent end of their disputations? (It is not so), for the Tâo is originally one. High and low, beautiful and ugly, ordinary and strange, success and overthrow, have nothing to do with it. The intelligent know this; those who weary their minds in trying to bring about a unity do not know it. At this point the sages throw on the subject the light of Heaven, also wishing to rest in Heaven, and so they come to a natural union:--this is how they use their knowledge well.
And what are we to consider the highest reach of knowledge (see par. 5)? The ancients thought it necessary to place this in the time before anything began to be. A second class would have it that there had (always) been (some) things; and a third class held that between those things (and men) there had been a relativity. Thus it was that gradually there came differences of opinion, in affirmations and denials; and when these once arose, there could not but be the experiences of success and failure.
But any one-sidedness in controversy is not sufficient to be accounted a proof of success or of failure. Not only is the Tâo radically one; but those who employ it, however they may seem to differ, will be found to be substantially one and the same. When the sages, in the midst of slippery confusion and doubtful perplexity, yet find the clearness of conviction, is it not because they place the controversies that we speak of among the things that are not to be used?
But if there were no affirmations and denials, there would be no words. And let me think here. Suppose there were no words of controversy, we must not infer from that that there were no words at all. Is this word correct? Then if I also employ it, I form one class with all who do so? Is it not correct? Then if I also deny it, I form another class with those who do the same. Formerly,
when speaking of men's words, I said that they should change places, and look at things from the different standpoints of each other; so with reference to my own words, my holding my 'Yea,' does not interfere with my changing my place, and taking my position with those who say 'Nay' in the case. If indeed there be no words of affirmation and denial, what words will there be? We must go back to the beginning when there were no words. We must go back still farther,--to the vacuity before the beginning when there were no words. If we try to go back even farther still, then great and small, long life and short life, heaven and earth and all things, fade away, blending together in the One. But that ONE is also a word. In this way we go on without end, wishing to make an end of controversy, and instead of doing that, our endeavour only serves to increase it. The better plan is to stop, as is proposed in a former paragraph, to stop at this point.--Even this word about having no controversy may be spared.
The sage, by avoiding discussion, reasoning, and the drawing of distinctions, while he availed himself of words, yet retained the advantage of eschewing words, and was also afraid of calling the demarcations (of propositions) by their eight qualities (see par. 7). Still, however, the trace of the use of words remained with him. It is not so in the case of the Great Tâo and the Great Argument. The Tâo (which is displayed) is not the Tâo; the Argument (which is most subtle) does not reach the point; the degree of Non-action is very great; but notwithstanding it is difficult to speak of what is entirely empty of purpose. The way by which the knowledge of the ancients reached the highest point was their stopping when their knowledge extended no farther. If they could know what they did not know, it was by means of the Heavenly Treasure-house; it was thus they could take their place in the centre of the circle, to which all lines converged, and from which all questions could be answered. If they added what they did know to the sum of what they did not know, they then
possessed the Store of Light; and it was thus that they made provision for the scintillations of slippery doubt.
To the same effect was what Shun told Yâo (end of par. 7). As to the referring what is advantageous and what is hurtful, and the mysteries of life and death, to the sphere of the unknown, that is set forth in the conversation between Nieh Khüeh and Wang Î (par. 8).
As to how it is that rulers and grooms, other men and one's self, do not know each other, that is seen in the conversation between Khü Zhiâo-dze and Khang-wû Dze.
As to what is said about the substance and shadow waiting on each to make their manifestations, and not knowing how they were brought about, and about the dreamer and the man awake doubting about each other, and not knowing how to distinguish between them, we have knowledge stopping at the point to which it does not extend, and gradually entering into the region of transformation.
Is there anything still remaining to be done for the adjustment of controversy? One idea grows up out of another in the Book, and one expression gives rise to another apparently quite different. There is a mutual connexion and reference between its parts. Suddenly the style is difficult as the slope of Yang-khang, and vanishes like the path of a bird; suddenly it looks like so many steep cliffs and successive precipices. When ordinary scholars see this and cannot trace the connexion of thought, if they put it on one side, and did not venture to say anything about it, they might be forgiven. But when they dare to follow their prejudices, and to append their licentious explanations, breaking up the connexion of thought, and bringing down to the dust this wonderful composition, the admiration of thousands of years;--ah! when the old Kwang took his pencil in hand, and proceeded to write down his thoughts, why should we be surprised that such men as these cannot easily understand him?
'The Great and most Honoured Master' is the Tâo. It appears separately in the Heavenly and Human elements (of our constitution), and exists alone and entire in what is beyond death and life; being, as we say, that which nothing can be without. To describe it as that which stands out superior and alone, we use for it the character Koh ( ) (par. 5); to describe it as abiding, we call it the True; to describe it as it vanishes from sight, we apply to it the names of Purity, Heaven, and Unity (par. 12).
When men value it, it is possible to get possession of it. But he who wishes to get it must, with the knowledge which he has attained to, proceed to nourish what that knowledge is still ignorant of. When both of these are (as it were) forgotten, and he comes under the transformation of the Tâo, he enters into the region in which there is neither life nor death;--to the Human element (in him) he has added the Heavenly.
Now what knowledge does not know is the time of birth and death, and what it does know is what comes after birth and precedes death. It would seem as if this could be nourished by the exercise of thought; but if we do this after birth and before death, we must wait for the time of birth and death to verify it. If we try to do so before that time, then the circumstances of the Human and the Heavenly have not yet become subject to their Ruler. It is this which makes the knowledge difficult, and it is only the True Man with the True Knowledge who has no anxiety about it.
In the position which the True man occupies, he has his adversities and prosperities, his successes and defeats, his gains and his losses, his seasons of security and of unrest, all the changes of his circumstances; but his mind forgets them all, and this result is due to his possession of both the Knowledge and the Tâo.
As to his bodily conditions, he has his sleeping and
awaking, his eating and resting,--his constant experiences; but his mind (also) forgets them all. For the springs of action which move to the touch of Heaven, and the movements of desire are indeed different in men; but when we advance and examine the proper home of the mind, we find no difference between its place and nature at the time of birth and of death, and no complication in these after birth and before death:--so it is that the Mind, the Tâo, the Heavenly, and the Human are simply One. Is not the unconsciousness of the mind the way in which the True man exercises his knowledge and nourishes it? Carrying out this unconsciousness, from the mind to the body and from the body to the world, he comprehends the character of the time and the requirements of everything, without any further qualification. Hence, while the mind has not acquired this oblivion, the great work of life always suffers from some defect of the mind, and is not fit to be commended. But let the mind be able to exercise this quality, and it can be carried out with great and successful merit, and its admirable service be completed. This is the mind of the True man, never exercised one-sidedly in the world, and gaining no one-sided victory either Heavenward or Manward.
Given the True Man with the True Knowledge like this, the nature of death and life may begin to be fully described. Death and life are like the night and the dawn;--is there any power that can command them? Men cannot preside over them. This is what knowledge does not extend to; but within the sphere of knowledge, there is that which is dearer than a Father (par. 5), and more to be honoured than a Ruler; the Eminent, the True, and that moreover over which Heaven cannot preside. Valuable therefore is the nourishing of this Knowledge; and what other art in nourishing it is there but the unconsciousness of which we speak? Why do we say so? The body is born, grows old and dies. This is the common lot. However skilful one may be in hiding it away, it is sure to disappear. Men know that the body is not easily got, but
they do not know that what might seem like man's body never comes to an end. Being hidden away in a place from which there is no escape for anything, it does not disappear. This takes place after birth and before death, and may be verified at the times of birth and death; but how much better it is to consider Heaven good, old age good, the beginning good and the end good, than vainly to think that the nourishing of knowledge is making the body good! The doing this is what is called the Tâo. And the sage enjoys himself in this; not only because the Tâo itself does not disappear, but also because of all who have got it not a single one has ever passed away from notice.
But it is not easy to describe the getting of the Tâo. In the case about which Nü Yü told Nan-po Dze-khwei (par. 8); the talents of a sage and the Tâo of a sage came together in the study of it; three, seven, and nine days are mentioned as the time of the several degrees of attainment; the learner went on from banishing all worldly matters from his mind as foreign to himself till he came to the utter disregard of time. In this way was he led from what was external, and brought inwards to himself; then again from the idea of the Tâo's being a thing, it was exhibited as Tranquillity amid all Disturbances, and he was carried out of himself till he understood that neither death nor life is more than a phenomenon. The narrator had learned all this from writings and from Lo-sung, searching them, and ever more the more remote they were. Truly great is the difficulty of getting the Tâo!
And yet it need not be difficult. It was not so with Dze-yü (par. 9), in whose words about one arm being transformed into a fowl, and the other into a cross-bow, we see its result, as also in what he said about his rump-bone being transformed into a wheel, his spirit into a horse, and one loosing the cord by which his life is suspended.
(Again) we have a similar accordance (with the Tâo) in Dze-lî's question to Dze-lâi (par. 10), about his being made the liver of a rat or the arm of an insect, with the latter's reply and his remark about the furnace of a founder.
These were men who had got the Tâo; as also were Dze-fan and Khin Kang (par. 11), men after the Maker's mind, and who enjoyed themselves, disporting in the one vital ether of heaven and earth.
The same may be said of Mäng-sun Zhâi (par. 12). If he had undergone a transformation, he would wait for the future transformation of which he did know. So it was that he obtained the Tâo. He and all the others were successful through the use of their mental unconsciousness; and they who pursue this method, must have the idea of I-r Dze, who wished to have his branding effaced, and his dismemberment removed by hearing the substance of the Tâo (par. 13).
Parties who have not lost the consciousness of their minds and wish to do so must become like Yen Hui (par. 4), who separated the connexion between his body and mind, and put away his knowledge, till he became one with the Great Pervader.
Of such as have lost (in part) the consciousness of their minds and wish. to do so entirely, we have an instance in Dze-sang (par. 15), thinking of Heaven and Earth and of his parents as; ignorant of his (miserable) condition, and then ascribing it to Destiny. He exhibited the highest obliviousness:--was he not, with the knowledge which he possessed, nourishing that of which he was ignorant? Such were the True Men, and such was the True Knowledge.
In this Book are to be found the roots of the ideas in the other six Books of this Part. In this they all unite. It exhibits the origin of all life, sets forth the reality of all cultivation, and shows the springs of all Making and Transformation, throwing open the door for the Immortals and Buddhas. Here is the wonderful Elixir produced by the pestle of jade, the touch of which by a finger produces the feathers of Transformation. As to its style, a vast lake of innumerous wavelets, the mingling of a hundred sparkling eddies, a collection of the oldest achievements in composition, a granary filled with all woods;--it is only in the
power of those who admire the leopard's spots to appreciate it!
Governing the world is like governing horses. There is the government, but the only effect of it is injury. Po-lâo's management of horses (par. 1) in a way contrary to their true nature was in no respect different from the way of the (first) potter and the (first) carpenter in dealing with their clay and wood in opposition to the nature of those substances, yet the world praises them all because of their skill, not knowing wherein the good government of the world consists.
Now the skilful governors of the world simply caused the people to fulfil the conditions of their regular nature (par. 2). It was their gifts which they possessed in common, and their Heaven-inspired instincts, which constituted the (Early) age of Perfect Virtue. When the sages fashioned their benevolence, righteousness, ceremonies, and music, and the people then began to lose their perfect virtue, it was not that they had themselves become different. For benevolence, righteousness, ceremonies, and music, are not endowments forming a part of their regular nature;--they are practised only after men have laid aside the Tâo and its characteristics, and abandoned the guidance of their nature and its feelings. This is what we say that the mechanic does when he hacks and cuts the raw materials to form his vessels. Why should we doubt that it was by Po-lâo's dealing with horses that they became wise enough to play the part of thieves (par. 3); and that it was by the sages' government of the people that their ability Came to be devoted to the pursuit of gain? The error of the sages in this cannot be denied.
From beginning to end this Book is occupied with one idea. The great point in it grew out of the statement in paragraph 3 of the previous Book, that 'all men are furnished with certain regular principles,' and it is the easiest to construe of all Kwang-dze's compositions; but
the general style and illustrations are full of sparkling vigour. Some have thought that, where the ideas are so few, there is a waste of words about them, and they doubt therefore that the Book was written by some one imitating Kwang-dze; but I apprehend no other hand could have shown such a mastery of his style.
That the world is not well governed is because there are those who try to govern it. When they try to govern it, they cannot but be 'doing' (to that end). Unable to keep from this 'doing,' they cause the world to be happy or to be miserable, both of which things the instincts of man's nature refuse to accept. Although the arts of governing are many, they only cause and increase disorder. Why so? Because they interfere with men's minds.
Now when men are made to be miserable or happy, they come to have great joy or great dissatisfaction. The condition ministers to the expansive or the opposite element (in nature), and the four seasons, the cold and the heat, all lose their regularity. This causes men everywhere in a contentious spirit to indulge their nature to excess, bringing about a change of its attributes, and originating the practice of good and evil. All unite in bringing this state about; and in the end all receive its consequences. Hence such men as Kih the robber, Zäng Shän, and Shih Zhûi ought not to be found in a well-governed age. But those who governed the world went on to distinguish between the good and the bad, and occupied themselves with rewarding and punishing. When they wished men to rest in the requirements of their nature, was it not difficult for them to realise the wish?
And how much more was it so when they went on in addition to insist on acute hearing and clear vision, on benevolence, righteousness, ceremonies, music, sageness, and knowledge (par. 2)! They did not know that these eight things were certainly of no use to the world, but injurious to it. Led astray by them, and not perceiving
this, they continued to practise them, and to do this every day more and more. This is what we see indeed in the ordinary men of the world, but not what we should have expected from superior men. The Superior man does nothing, and rests in the instincts of his nature. He values and loves his own person, which fits him to be entrusted with the charge of the world, and thereupon we see things becoming transformed of themselves. Yes, we see indeed that men's minds are not to be interfered with (par. 3).
Let me try to attest this from (the example of) the ancient Tîs and Kings. These in their interference with the minds of men, began with their inculcation of benevolence and righteousness, proceeded to their distinctions of what was right and wrong, and ended with their punishments and penalties. Their government of the world ended with the disordering of it. And the result can be seen, the Literati and the Mohists still thinking how they can remedy them.
But let us ask who it really was that brought things to this pass. The answer is supplied to us in the words of Lâo Tan (see T. T. K., ch. 19), 'Abolish sageness and cast away wisdom, and the world will be brought to a state of good order.' But the issue does not commence with the state of the world. When Kwang Khäng-dze replied to Hwang-Tî's questions, he said (par. 4), 'Watch over your body, and increase the vigour of things. Maintain the unity, and dwell in the harmony.' What he said, about the rain descending before the clouds collected, about the trees shedding their leaves before they were yellow, about the light (of the sun and moon) hastening to extinction, about Hwang-Tî's mind being that of a flatterer of which he would make no account, and about how he should do nothing but rest in the instincts of his nature, and not interfere with the minds of men:--all these are expressions bearing on the value and love which should be given to the body. And the lesson in his words does not end with the watching over the body.
There are the words addressed by Hung Mung to Yün
Kiang, 'Nourish in your mind a great agreement (with the primal ether). (Things) return to their root, and do not know (that they are doing so). As to what you say, that "the mysterious operations of Heaven are not accomplished, that the birds all sing at night, that vegetation withers under calamity, and that insects are all overtaken by disaster:--about all these things there is no occasion for anxiety." While you do nothing, rest in the promptings of your human nature, and do not interfere with the minds of men;--such is the genial influence that attracts and gathers all things round itself (par. 2).'
But the Superior man's letting the world have its own course in this generous way;--this is what the ordinary men of the world cannot fathom. When such men speak about governing, they examine carefully between others and themselves, and are very earnest to distinguish between differing and agreeing. Their only quest is to find how they may overcome others, and the end is that they are always overcome by others. They do not know that in order to reduce others to the level of things, there must be those who cannot be reduced by others to that level. Those are said to be the sole possessors of the power (par. 6).
The teaching of the Great man, however, is not of this nature. He responds to others according to their qualities, without any selfish purpose. Although he is the sole possessor of the power, that power comes to be nothing in his view. Between having and not having there is to him no difference in the use. Doing nothing, and yet sometimes obliged to act, he forthwith does so; when he acts, yet no one sees that he has acted, and it is the same as if he did not act. So it is according to the Tâo; but therein there are both the Heavenly and the Human elements. In accordance with this there are (in actual government) the Lord and the Minister (par. 7). When one discerns this, and knows which element is to be preferred, convinced that it is doing nothing which is valuable, what difficulty has he in governing the world?
The thread of connexion running through this Book is 'Doing Nothing.' Whether it speaks of the promptings of the nature or of the minds of men, it shows how in regard to both there must be this 'doing nothing.' In the end, with much repetition it distinguishes and discusses, showing that what doing there may be in doing nothing need not trouble us, and is not the same as the 'Extinction' of the Buddhists. There is not much difference between the teaching of this Book, and what we read in the Confucian Analects, 'He did nothing and yet governed efficiently (Bk. XV, ch. iv).' This is an instance of the light thrown by our 'old Kwang' on the King, and shows how an understanding may take place between him and our Literati.
In the style there are so many changes and transformations, so many pauses and rests as in music, conflicting discussions, and subtle disquisitions, the pencil's point now hidden in smoke and now among the clouds, the author's mind teeming with his creations, that no one who has not made himself familiar with a myriad volumes should presume to look and pronounce on this Book.
The afflictions of men in the world are great, because their attainments in the Tâo and Its Attributes are shallow. The Tâo with Its Attributes is the Author of all things. To follow It in Its transformings according to the time is not like occupying one's self with the qualities of things, and with the practice and teaching of the human relations, which only serve to bring on disaster and blame. He who seeks his enjoyment in It, however, must begin by emptying himself. Hence we have, 'Rip your skin from your body, cleanse your heart, and put away your desires (par. 2);' then afterwards 'you can enjoy yourself in the land of Great Vacuity.' In this way one attains to the status represented by coming across 'an empty vessel' and escapes 'the evils which the close-furred fox and the elegantly-spotted leopard' are preparing for themselves.
These are the ideas in the paragraph about Î-liâo of
Shih-nan which may help to illustrate, and receive illustration from, what Kwang-dze says (par. 1) that 'he would prefer to be in a position between being fit to be useful and wanting that fitness.'
In the case of Pei-kung Shê collecting taxes for the making of a peal of bells, we have only the exercise of a small art (par. 3). He could, however, put away all thought of self, and act as the time required. He was I as a child who has no knowledge,' so slow was he and hesitating in this respect; there escorting those who went, here welcoming those who came. But from all this we may know how far he had advanced (in the knowledge of the Tâo).
But on consideration I think it was only Confucius of whom this could be spoken. Did not he receive a great share of the world's afflictions (par. 4)? When Thâi-kung Zän spoke to him of 'putting away the ideas of merit and fame, and placing himself on the level of the masses of men,' he forthwith put away the idea of himself and complied with the requirements of the time. This was the art by which he enjoyed himself in the Tâo and Its attributes, and escaped the troubles of the world.
He could put away the idea of self in responding to the world, but he could not do so in determining his associations. In consequence of this, more distant acquaintances did not come to lay further afflictions on him, and his nearer friends perhaps came to cast him off because of those afflictions. What was he to do in these circumstances?
If one be able to comply with the requirements of the time in his relations with men, but cannot do so in his relations to Heaven, then in the world he will indeed do nothing to others contrary to what is right, but he will himself receive treatment contrary to it; and what is to be done in such a case? Dze-sang Hû saw the difficulty here and provided for it. What he said about 'a union of Heaven's appointment,' and about 'the intercourse of superior men being tasteless as water,' shows how well he knew the old lessons about a connexion growing out
of external circumstances and one founded in inward feeling. When one has divested himself of the idea of self, there will not again be such an experience as that of Confucius, when his intimate associates were removed from him more and more, and his followers and friends were more and more dispersed.
And Confucius himself spoke of such a case. What he said about its being 'easy not to receive (as evils) the inflictions of Heaven,' and 'difficult not to receive as benefits the favours of men (par. 7),' shows how truly he perceived the connexion between the Heavenly and the Human (in man's constitution), and between 'the beginning and end' of experiences. When one acts entirely according to the requirements of the time, the more he enlarges himself the greater he becomes, and the more he loves himself the more sorrow he incurs. If he do not do so, then we have the case of him who in the prospect of gain forgets the true instinct of his preservation, as shown in the strange bird of the park of Tiâo-ling (par. 8), and the case of the Beauty of the lodging-house, who by her attempts to show off her superiority made herself contemned. How could such parties so represented occupy themselves with the Tâo and Its attributes so as to escape the calamities of life?
This Book sets forth the principles which contribute to the preservation of the body, and keeping harm far off, and may supplement what still needed to be said on this subject in Book IV. The Tâo and Its attributes occupy the principal place in it; the emptying of Self, and conforming to the time, are things required by them. The exquisite reasonings and deep meaning of the Book supply excellent rules for getting through the world. Only the sixth paragraph is despicable and unworthy of its place. It is evidently a forgery, and I cannot but blame Kwo Dze-hsüan for allowing it to remain as the production of Kwang-dze.
The Tâo made Its appearance before Heaven and Earth. It made things what they are and was Itself no THING,
being what is called their Root and Origin (par. 2). If we consider It something existing, It was not such; if we consider It as something non-existing, that does not fully express the idea of it. The 'I know it (of Hwang-Tî)' is an addition of 'Knowledge' to the idea of it, and (his) 'I will tell you' is the addition of a description of it (par. 1). Therefore he who would embody the Tâo can only employ the names of 'Do Nothing' and 'Returning to the Root,' and then go forward to the region of the Unknown and the Indescribable.
Now the Tâo originally was a Unity. The collection of the breath, constituting life, and its dispersion, which we call death, proceed naturally. The denominations of the former as 'spirit-like and wonderful' and of the latter as 'foetor and putridity' are the work of man. But those of 'Non-action' and 'Returning to the Root' are intended to do honour to the Unity. Knowledge, Heedless Bluster, and Hwang-Tî, all perceived this, but they also went on to reason about it, showing how not to know is better than to know, and not to talk better than to talk.
As it is said in par. 2, 'the beautiful operations of Heaven and Earth, and the distinctive constitutions of all things,' from the oldest time to the present day, go on and continue without any difference. But who is it that makes them to be what they are? And what expression of doubt or speculation on the point has ever been heard from them? It is plain that the doctrine of the Tâo originated with man.
When Phei-î (par. 3) told Nieh Khüeh, 'Keep your body as it should be; look only at the One thing; call in your knowledge; make your measures uniform:'--all this was saying to him that we are to do nothing, and turn to (the Tâo as) our Root. When he further says to him, 'You should have the simple look of a new-born calf; and not ask about the cause of your being what you are:'--this is in effect saying that knowledge is in not knowing, and that speech does not require the use of words.
If you suddenly (like Shun in par. 4) think that the Tâo
is yours to hold, not only do you not know what the Tâo is, but you do not know yourself. How is this? You are but a thing in the Tâo. If your life came to you without its being produced by the Tâo, you would yourself be a life-producer. But whether one lives to old age or dies prematurely he comes equally to an end. Your life properly was not from yourself, nor is your death your own act. You did not resist (the coming of your life); you do not keep it (against the coming of death); you are about to return to your original source. This simply is what is meant by the Sage's 'Do nothing, and return to your Root.' As to 'the bodily frame coming from incorporeity and its returning to the same (par. 5),' that certainly is a subject beyond the reach of our seeing and hearing; and how can any one say that the Tâo is his to hold?
What Lâo-dze (says to Confucius in par. 5), and what Khäng tells Shun (in par. 4), have not two meanings; but notwithstanding, it should not be said that the Tâo is not to be found anywhere (par. 6). Speaking broadly, we may say that its presence is to be seen in an ant, a stalk of panic grass, an earthenware tile, and in excrement. Seeking for it in what is more delicate and recondite, let us take the ideas of fulness and emptiness, of withering and decay, of beginning and end, of accumulation and dispersion. These are all ideas, and not the names of things; and (the Tâo) which makes things what they are has not the limit which belongs to things. No wonder that Tung-kwo Dze should have been so perplexed as he was!
Those who think that the Tâo has no positive existence (par. 7), speak of it as 'The Mysterious and Obscure,' and then it would seem to be equivalent to the name 'Mystery,' which cannot be rightly applied to it. And those who think that it has a positive existence speak of it as being considered now noble and now mean, now bound and compressed, now dispersed and diffused, and what is One is divided into the noble and the mean, the compressed and the dispersed;--a mode of dealing with it, of which the Tâo will not admit. Better is it to say with No-
beginning, 'There should be no asking about the Tâo; any question about it should not be replied to.' The opposite of this would imply a knowledge of what is not known, and the use of words which should not be spoken. In accordance with this, when Star-light puts his question to Non-entity, and it is added, 'To conceive the ideas of Existence and Non-existence is not so difficult as to conceive of a Non-existing non-existence,' this is an advance on speaking of (the Tâo) as Non-existent; and when the forger of Swords says to the Minister of War that by long practice he came to the exercise of his art as if he took no thought about it (par. 9), this is an advance on speaking of (the Tâo) as existent.
The substance of what we know is to this effect:--The Tâo was produced before heaven and earth. It made things what they are and is not itself a thing. It cannot be considered as of ancient origin or of recent, standing as it does in no relation to time. It had no beginning and will have no end. Life and death, death and life equally proceed from It. To speak of It as existing or as non-existing is a one-sided presentation of It. Those who have embodied It, amid all external changes, do not change internally. They welcome and meet all men and things, and none can do them any injury (par. 11). Whatever they do not know and are unequal to, they simply let alone. This is the meaning of 'Doing nothing, and turning in everything to the Root.' Where the want of knowledge and of language is the most complete, Zän Khiû (par. 10) and Yen-dze (par. 11) apply to Kung-nî for his judgment in the case, and the consideration of it comes to an end.
In this Book the mysteries of the Tâo are brought to light; one slight turn of expression after another reveals their successive depths, beyond the reach of Reasoning. La Fang-hû says, 'Master this Book, and the Mahâyâna of the Tripitaka will open to you at the first application of your knife.'--Well does he express himself!
Those who practise the Tâo know that what is external to themselves cannot be relied on, and that what is internal and belonging to themselves, does not receive any injury (par. 1). They are therefore able to enjoy themselves in the world, emptying their minds of all which would interfere with their pursuing their natural course.
What men can themselves control are their minds; external things are all subject to the requirements and commands of the world. Good and evil cannot be prevented from both coming to men, and loyalty and filial duty may find it bard to obtain their proper recompense. From of old it has been so; and the men of the world are often startled to incessant activity with their minds between the thoughts of profit and injury, and are not able to overcome them (par. 1). But do they know that among the enemies (of their serenity) there arc none greater than the Yin and Yang? The water and fire of men's minds produce irregularity in their action, and then again overcome it - but after the harmony of the mind has been consumed: there remains in them no more trace of the action of the Tâo.
On this account, when Kung-nî was obstinately regardless of a myriad generations (in the future), Lâo Lâi-dze still warned him to have done with his self-conceit (par. 5). His reason for doing so was that wisdom had its perils, and even spirit-like intelligence does not reach to everything (par. 6). It was so with the marvellous tortoise, and not with it only. The sage is full of anxiety and indecision (par. 5), and thereby is successful in his undertakings; the man of the greatest knowledge puts away (the idea of) skill, and without any effort shows his skill:--they can both look on what seems to have no use and pronounce it useful, and allow their nature while it is able to enjoy itself to take its course without being anxious about its issue in advantage or injury (par. 1).
And moreover, it is not necessary that they should leave
the world in order to enjoy themselves. There are the distinctions of antiquity and the present day indelibly exhibited in the course of time (par. 8). The way in which the Perfect man enjoys himself is by his passing through the world of men without leaving any trace of himself. His way is free and encounters no obstruction (par. 9); his mind has its spontaneous and enjoyable movements, and so his spirit is sure to overcome all external obstructions. Very different is this from the way of him who is bent on concealing himself, and on extinguishing all traces of his course (par. 8). He will seek his enjoyment in the great forest with its heights and hills, and not be able to endure the trouble of desiring fame, having recourse also to violence, laying plans, seeking to discharge the duties of office so as to secure general approval.
Thus the Perfect man obtains the harmony of his Heaven (-given nature), and his satisfactions spring up, he knows not how, as when the growing grain in spring has been laid by the rains (par. 9). As to the arts of curing illness, giving rest to old age, and restraining hasty measures to remedy the effects of errors, he can put them on one side, and not discuss them; thus playing the part of one who has apprehended the ideas and then forgets the words in which they were conveyed (par. 11). Let him who occupies himself with the Tâo beware of 'seeking the fish-baskets and hare-snares,' and falling into such mistakes as are instanced in the cases of emaciation to death, or suicide by drowning.
This Book points out the true form of substances, and gave rise to the talk in subsequent ages about the Khân and Lî hexagrams, and about the lead and quicksilver. Nearly the whole of it has been called in question, and the second, third, and fourth paragraphs are so marked by the shallowness of their style, and the eccentricity of their sentiments, that it may be doubted if they are genuine. I suspect they were written and introduced by some imitator of Kwang-dze, and therefore call attention to them and cast them out of my analysis.
Lin Hsî-kung omits Books XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, and XXXI from his edition of Kwang-dze's Writings. Our Book XXXII, the Lieh Yü-khâu, is with him Book XXVIII. He explains and comments on its various paragraphs as he does in the case of all the previous Books. Instead of subjoining an Analysis and Summary of the Contents in his usual way, he contents himself with the following note:--
In the Notice given by Sû Dze-kan 1 of the Sacrificial Hall to Kwang-dze, he says that after reading the last paragraph of Book XXVII (the Yü Yen, or 'Metaphorical Words'), about Yang Dze-kü, and how (when be left the inn) the other visitors would have striven with him about the places for their mats, he forthwith discarded the four Books that followed,--the Zang Wang, the Tâo Kih, the Yüeh Kien, and the Yü-fû; making the Lieh Yü-khâu immediately follow that paragraph. Having done so, he fully saw the wisdom of what he had done, and said with a laugh, 'Yes, they do indeed belong to one chapter!'
So did the old scholar see what other eyes for a thousand years had failed to see. No subsequent editor and commentator, however, ventured to take it on him to change the order of the several Books which had been established, following therein the Critical Canon laid down by Confucius about putting aside subjects concerning which doubts are entertained 2; but we ought not to pass the question by without remark.
The subject of the last paragraph of the Lieh Yü-khâu is Kwang-dze, 'when be was about to die.' It clearly
intimates how he, the man of Khî-yüan, from that time ceased to use his pencil, just as the appearance of the Lin (in the Zo-kwan) did in the case of Confucius. Not a single character therefore should appear as from him after this. We have no occasion therefore to enter into any argument about the Thien Hsiâ (Book XXXIII). We may be sure that it was made, not by Kwang-dze, but by some editor of his writings. Later writers, indeed, contend vehemently for Kwang-dze's own authorship of it. We can only say, Great is the difficulty in treating of the different views of Scholars 1!
296:1 Sû Shih ( ) styled Dze-kan ( ) and also, and more frequently, Tung-pho ( ),one of the most celebrated statesmen and scholars of the eleventh century (1036-1101). The notice of the Sacrificial Hall of Kwang-dze was written in 1078. See Appendix viii.
296:2 See the Confucian Analects II, xviii:--'Learn much and put aside the points of which you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time of the others.'
297:1 The arguments both of Sû Shih and Lin Hsî-kung as set forth in this note are far from conclusive.