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YANG CHU said:
"Po-chêng-tse-kao1 would not part with a hair of his body for the benefit of others. He quitted p. 53 his country and became a ploughman. The great Yü1 did not profit by his own body, which grew quite emaciated.
"If the ancients by injuring a single hair could have rendered a service to the world, they would not have done it; and had the universe been offered to a single person, he would not have accepted it.
"As nobody would damage even a hair, and nobody would do a favour to the world, the world was in a perfect state."
Ch’in-Tse asked Yang Chu:
"If by pulling out a hair of your body you would aid mankind, would you do it?"
Yang Chu answered:
"Mankind is surely not to be helped by a single hair."
"But supposing it possible, would you do it?"
Yang Chu gave no answer.
Thereupon Ch’in-Tse told Meng-sun-Yang, who replied:
"I will explain the Master's meaning.
"Supposing for tearing off a piece of your skin you were offered ten thousand gold pieces, would you do it?"
Meng-sun-Yang again asked:
"Supposing for cutting off one of your limbs you were to get a kingdom, would you do it?"
Ch’in-Tse was silent.
"See now," said Meng-sun-Yang. "A hair is unimportant compared with the skin, and the skin also is unimportant compared with a limb.
"However, many hairs put together form skin, and many skins form a limb. Therefore, though a hair is but one among the many molecules composing the body, it is not to be disregarded."
"I do not know how to answer you. If I were to ask Lao-tse and Kuan-Yin,1 your opinion would be found right, and so also if I were to consult great Yü and Me-ti."
Meng-sun-Yang upon this turned round to his disciples, and spoke of something else.
1 Po-chêng-tse-kao was a Taoist of the time of Yao.
1 The great Yü, the controller of the great flood, which task so occupied him that he entirely forgot his own wants.
1 The Taoist philosopher.