Sacred-Texts Taoism Index Previous Next

p. 59


YANG CHU said:

   "The memory of things of highest antiquity is faded. Who recollects them? Of the time of the three generations of Emperors1 something is preserved, but the rest is lost. Of the five rulers2 something is still known, the rest is only guessed at. Of the events during the time of the three emperors3 some are veiled in deep obscurity, and some are clear, yet out of a hundred thousand not one is recollected. Of the things of our present life some are heard, others seen, yet not one out of ten thousand is recollected. It is impossible to calculate the number of years elapsed from remote antiquity to the present day. Only from Fw-hsi downwards there are more than three hundred thousand years.

   "Every trace of intelligent and stupid men, of the beautiful and ugly, successful and unsuccesful, right and wrong, is effaced. And whether quickly or slowly is the only point of difference.

   "If anybody cares for one hour's blame or praise p. 60 so much that, by torturing his spirit and body, he struggles for a name lasting some hundred years after his death, can the halo of glory revive his dried bones, or give it back the joy of living?"



p. 59

1 The three generations of Emperors, namely, those of heaven, those of the earth, and the human emperors, forming the first fabulous epoch of Chinese history.

2 The five rulers are Fw-hsi, Shen-nung, Huang-ti, Yao and Shun.

3 The three emperors are, Yü, T’eng and Wen-Wang, the founders of the first three dynasties.