4 – Man in the World, Associated with Other Men

1: Think out great, righteous, strong, pleasant, and sincere ways of dealing with main evils of life

Yen Hui went to see Kung-ni, and asked leave to take his departure.

‘Where are you going to?’ asked the Master.

‘I will go to Wei’ was the reply.

‘And with what object?’

‘I have heard that the ruler of Wei is in the vigour of his years, and consults none but himself as to his course. He deals with his state as if it were a light matter, and has no perception of his errors. He thinks lightly of his people’s dying; the dead are lying all over the country as if no smaller space could contain them; on the plains and about the marshes, they are as thick as heaps of fuel. The people know not where to turn to. I have heard you, Master, say, “Leave the state that is well governed; go to the state where disorder prevails.” At the door of a physician there are many who are ill. I wish through what I have heard (from you) to think out some methods (of dealing with Wei), if peradventure the evils of the state may be cured.’

Kung-ni said,

‘Alas! The risk is that you will go only to suffer in the punishment (of yourself)! The right method (in such a case) will not admit of any admixture. With such admixture, the one method will become many methods. Their multiplication will embarrass you. That embarrassment will make you anxious. However anxious you may be, you will not save (yourself). The perfect men of old first had (what they wanted to do) in themselves, and afterwards they found (the response to it) in others. If what they wanted in themselves was not fixed, what leisure had they to go and interfere with the proceedings of any tyrannous man?

‘Moreover, do you know how virtue is liable to be dissipated, and how wisdom proceeds to display itself? Virtue is dissipated in (the pursuit of) the name for it, and wisdom seeks to display itself in the striving with others. In the pursuit of the name men overthrow one another; wisdom becomes a weapon of contention. Both these things are instruments of evil, and should not be allowed to have free course in one’s conduct. Supposing one’s virtue to be great and his sincerity firm, if he do not comprehend the spirit of those (whom he wishes to influence); and supposing he is free from the disposition to strive for reputation, if he do not comprehend their minds; – when in such a case he forcibly insists on benevolence and righteousness, setting them forth in the strongest and most direct language, before the tyrant, then he, hating (his reprover’s) possession of those excellences, will put him down as doing him injury. He who injures others is sure to be injured by them in return. You indeed will hardly escape being injured by the man (to whom you go)

‘Further, if perchance he takes pleasure in men of worth and hates those of an opposite character, what is the use of your seeking to make yourself out to be different (from such men about him)? Before you have begun to announce (your views), he, as king and ruler, will take advantage of you, and at once contend with you for victory. Your eyes will be dazed and full of perplexity; you will try to look pleased with him; you will frame your words with care; your demeanour will be conformed to his; you will confirm him in his views. In this way you will be adding fire to fire, and water to water, increasing, as we may express it, the evils (which you deplore). To these signs of deferring to him at the first there will be no end. You will be in danger, seeing he does not believe you, of making your words more strong, and you are sure to die at the hands of such a tyrant.

‘And formerly Kieh killed Kwan Lung-fäng, and Kâu killed the prince Pi-kan. Both of these cultivated their persons, bending down in sympathy with the lower people to comfort them suffering (as they did) from their oppressors, and on their account opposing their superiors. On this account, because they so ordered their conduct, their rulers compassed their destruction: such regard had they for their own fame. (Again), Yao anciently attacked (the states of) Zhung-kih and Hsü-âo, and Yü attacked the ruler of Hu. Those states were left empty, and with no one to continue their population, the people being exterminated. They had engaged in war without ceasing; their craving for whatever they could get was insatiable. And this (ruler of Wei) is, like them, one who craves after fame and greater substance; – have you not heard it? Those sages were not able to overcome the thirst for fame and substance; – how much less will you be able to do so! Nevertheless you must have some ground (for the course which you wish to take); pray try and tell it to me.’

Yen Hui said,

‘May I go, doing so in uprightness and humility, using also every endeavour to be uniform (in my plans of operation)?’

‘No, indeed!’ was the reply.

‘How can you do so? This man makes a display of being filled to overflowing (with virtue), and has great self-conceit. His feelings are not to be determined from his countenance. Ordinary men do not (venture to) oppose him, and he proceeds from the way in which he affects them to seek still more the satisfaction of his own mind. He may be described as unaffected by the (small lessons of) virtue brought to bear on him from day to day; and how much less will he be so by your great lessons? He will be obstinate, and refuse to be converted. He may outwardly agree with you, but inwardly there will be no self- condemnation; -how can you (go to him in this way and be successful)?’

(Yen Hui) rejoined,

‘Well then; while inwardly maintaining my straightforward intention, I will outwardly seem to bend to him. I will deliver (my lessons), and substantiate them by appealing to antiquity. Inwardly maintaining my straightforward intention, I shall be a co-worker with Heaven. When I thus speak of being a co-worker with Heaven, it is because I know that (the sovereign, whom we style) the son of Heaven, and myself, are equally regarded by Heaven as Its sons. And should I then, as if my words were only my own, be seeking to find whether men approved of them, or disapproved of them? In this way men will pronounce me a (sincere and simple) boy. This is what is called being a co-worker with Heaven.

‘Outwardly bending (to the ruler), I shall be a co-worker with other men. To carry (the memorandum tablet to court), to kneel, and to bend the body reverentially: these are the observances of ministers. They all employ them, and should I presume not to do so? Doing what other men do, they would have no occasion to blame me. This is what is called being a fellow-worker with other men.

‘Fully declaring my sentiments and substantiating them by appealing to antiquity, I shall be a co-worker with the ancients. Although the words in which I convey my lessons may really be condemnatory (of the ruler), they will be those of antiquity, and not my own. In this way, though straightforward, I shall be free from blame. This is what is called being a co- worker with antiquity. May I go to Wei in this way, and be successful?’

‘No indeed!’ said Kung-ni. ‘How can you do so? You have too many plans of proceeding, and have not spied out (the ruler’s character). Though you firmly adhere to your plans, you may be held free from transgression, but this will be all the result. How can you (in this way) produce the transformation (which you desire)? All this only shows (in you) the mind of a teacher!’

 In deep and existential matters, many do not know where to turn.

 Many strive uglily for reputation and crave for fame. Be not among them.

2: A perfect unity hardly falls into hypocricy and all sorts of flaws

Yen Hui said,

‘I can go no farther; I venture to ask the method from you.’

Kung-ni replied,

‘It is fasting, (as) I will tell you. (But) when you have the method, will you find it easy to practise it? He who thinks it easy will be disapproved of by the bright Heaven.’

Hui said,

‘My family is poor. For months together we have no spirituous drink, nor do we taste the proscribed food or any strong-smelling vegetables; – can this be regarded as fasting?’

The reply was,

‘It is the fasting appropriate to sacrificing, but it is not the fasting of the mind.’

‘I venture to ask what that fasting of the mind is,’ said Hui, and Kung-ni answered,

‘Maintain a perfect unity in every movement of your will. You will not wait for the hearing of your ears about it, but for the hearing of your mind. You will not wait even for the hearing of your mind, but for the hearing of the spirit. Let the hearing (of the ears) rest with the ears. Let the mind rest in the verification (of the rightness of what is in the will). But the spirit is free from all pre-occupation and so waits for (the appearance of) things. Where the (proper) course is, there is freedom from all pre-occupation; – such freedom is the fasting of the mind.’

Hui said,

‘Before it was possible for me to employ (this method), there I was, the Hui that I am; now, that I can employ it, the Hui that I was has passed away. Can I be said to have obtained this freedom from pre-occupation?’

The Master replied,

‘Entirely. I tell you that you can enter and be at ease in the enclosure (where he is), and not come into collision with the reputation (which belongs to him). If he listen to your counsels, let him hear your notes; if he will not listen, be silent. Open no (other) door; employ no other medicine; dwell with him (as with a. friend) in the same apartment, and as if you had no other option, and you will not be far from success in your object. Not to move a step is easy; – to walk without treading on the ground is difficult. In acting after the manner of men, it is easy to fall into hypocrisy; in acting after the manner of Heaven, it is difficult to play the hypocrite. I have heard of flying with wings; I have not heard of flying without them. I have heard of the knowledge of the wise; I have not heard of the knowledge of the unwise. Look at that aperture (left in the wall); – the empty apartment is filled with light through it. Felicitous influences rest (in the mind thus emblemed), as in their proper resting place. Even when they do not so rest, we have what is called (the body) seated and (the mind) galloping abroad. The information that comes through the ears and eyes is comprehended internally, and the knowledge of the mind becomes something external: (when this is the case), the spiritual intelligences will come, and take up their dwelling with us, and how much more will other men do so! All things thus undergo a transforming influence. This was the hinge on which Yü and Shun moved; it was this which Fu-hsi and Ki-khü practised all their lives: how much more should other men follow the same rule!’

 A root of great and up to spiritual freedom lies in being seated without moving about a lot.

3: Seeking a final outcome of mutual, friendly deeds with little or no extravagance

Tzu-kâo, duke of Sheh, being about to proceed on a mission to Khi, asked Kung-ni, saying,

‘The king is sending me, Ku-liang, on a mission which is very important. Khi will probably treat me as his commissioner with great respect, but it will not be in a hurry (to attend to the business). Even an ordinary man cannot be readily moved (to action), and how much less the prince of a state! I am very full of apprehension. You, Sir, once said to me that of all things, great or small, there were few which, if not conducted in the proper way, could be brought to a happy conclusion; that, if the thing were not successful, there was sure to be the evil of being dealt with after the manner of men; that, if it were successful, there was sure to be the evil of constant anxiety; and that, whether it succeeded or not, it was only the virtuous man who could secure its not being followed by evil. In my diet I take what is coarse, and do not seek delicacies,—a man whose cookery does not require him to be using cooling, drinks. This morning I received my charge, and in the evening I am drinking iced water; – am I not feeling the internal heat (and discomfort)? Such is my state before I have actually engaged in the affair; – I am already suffering from conflicting anxieties. And if the thing do not succeed, (the king) is sure to deal with me after the manner of men. The evil is twofold; as a minister, I am not able to bear the burden (of the mission). Can you, Sir, tell me something (to help me in the case)?’

Kung-ni replied,

‘In all things under heaven there are two great cautionary considerations: the one is the requirement implanted (in the nature); the other is the conviction of what is right. The love of a son for his parents is the implanted requirement, and can never be separated from his heart; the service of his ruler by a minister is what is right, and from its obligation there is no escaping anywhere between heaven and earth. These are what are called the great cautionary considerations. Therefore a son finds his rest in serving his parents without reference to or choice of place; and this is the height of filial duty. In the same way a subject finds his rest in serving his ruler, without reference to or choice of the business; and this is the fullest discharge of loyalty. When men are simply obeying (the dictates of) their hearts, the considerations of grief and joy are not readily set before them. They know that there is no alternative to their acting as they do, and rest in it as what is appointed; and this is the highest achievement of virtue. He who is in the position of a minister or of a son has indeed to do what he cannot but do. Occupied with the details of the business (in hand), and forgetful of his own person, what leisure has he to think of his pleasure in living or his dislike of death? You, my master, may well proceed on your mission.

‘But let me repeat to you what I have heard: In all intercourse (between states), if they are near to each other, there should be mutual friendliness, verified by deeds; if they are far apart, there must be sincere adherence to truth in their messages. Those messages will be transmitted by internuncios. But to convey messages which express the complacence or the dissatisfaction of the two parties is the most difficult thing in the world. If they be those of mutual complacence, there is sure to be an overflow of expressions of satisfaction; if of mutual dissatisfaction, an overflow of expressions of dislike. But all extravagance leads to reckless language, and such language fails to command belief. When this distrust arises, woe to the internuncio! Hence the Rules for Speech I say, “Transmit the message exactly as it stands; do not transmit it with any overflow of language; so is (the internuncio) likely to keep himself whole.”

 First consider what is appropriate, and next try to feel into what nature handles or tackles.

4: Let your mind find sound and fit enjoyments

‘Moreover, skilful wrestlers begin with open trials of strength, but always end with masked attempts (to gain the victory); as their excitement grows excessive, they display much wonderful dexterity. Parties drinking according to the rules at first observe good order, but always end with disorder; as their excitement grows excessive, their fun becomes uproarious. In all things it is so. People are at first sincere, but always end with becoming rude; at the commencement things are treated as trivial, but as the end draws near, they assume great proportions. Words are (like) the waves acted on by the wind; the real point of the matters (discussed by them) is lost. The wind and waves are easily set in motion; the success of the matter of which the real point is lost is easily put in peril. Hence quarrels are occasioned by nothing so much as by artful words and one-sided speeches. The breath comes angrily, as when a beast, driven to death, wildly bellows forth its rage. On this animosities arise on both sides. Hasty examination (of the case) eagerly proceeds, and revengeful thoughts arise in their minds; -they do not know how. Since they do not know how such thoughts arise, who knows how they will end? Hence the Rules for Speech say, “Let not an internuncius depart from his instructions. Let him not urge on a settlement. If he go beyond the regular rules, he will complicate matters. Departing from his instructions and urging on a settlement imperils negotiations. A good settlement is proved by its lasting long, and a bad settlement cannot be altered; – ought he not to be careful? ”

‘Further still, let your mind find its enjoyment in the circumstances of your position; nourish the central course which you pursue, by a reference to your unavoidable obligations. This is the highest object for you to pursue; what else can you do to fulfil the charge (of your father and ruler). The best thing you can do is to be prepared to sacrifice your life; and this is the most difficult thing to do.’

 Enjoy as you can, what you can. This may be the most difficult thing to do. But departing from such sane instructions typically enlarges some perils.

 In all things the end draws near. Compare: “All things must pass.”

5: Be careful enough to keep yourself correct and preserve your inborn nature

Yen Ho, being about to undertake the office of Teacher of the eldest son of duke Ling of Wei, consulted Kü Po-yü.

‘Here,’ said he, ‘is this (young) man, whose natural disposition is as bad as it could be. If I allow him to proceed in a bad way, it will be at the peril of our state; if I insist on his proceeding in a right way, it will be at the peril of my own person. His wisdom is just sufficient to know the errors of other men, but he does not know how he errs himself What am I to do in such a case?’

Kü Po-yü replied,

‘Good indeed is your question! Be on your guard; be careful; see that you keep yourself correct! Your best plan will be, with your person to seek association with him, and with your mind to try to be in harmony with him; and yet there are dangers connected with both of these things. While seeking to keep near to him, do not enter into his pursuits; while cultivating a harmony of mind with him, do not show how superior you are to him. If in your personal association you enter into his pursuits, you will fall with him and be ruined, you will tumbledown with a crash. If in maintaining a harmony with his mind, you show how different you are from him, he will think you do so for the reputation and the name, and regard you as a creature of evil omen. If you find him to be a mere boy, be you with him as another boy; if you find him one of those who will not have their ground marked out in the ordinary way, do you humour him in this characteristic; if you find him to be free from lofty airs, show yourself to be the same; (ever) leading him on so as to keep him free from faults.

‘Don’t you know (the fate of) the praying mantis? It angrily stretches out its arms, to arrest the progress of the carriage, unconscious of its inability for such a task, but showing how much it thinks of its own powers. Be on your guard; be careful. If you cherish a boastful confidence in your own excellence, and place yourself in collision with him, you are likely to incur the fate (of the mantis).

‘Don’t you know how those who keep tigers proceed? They do not dare to supply them with living creatures, because of the rage which their killing of them will excite. They do not (even) dare to give them their food whole, because of the rage which their rending of it will excite. They watch till their hunger is appeased, (dealing with them) from their knowledge of their natural ferocity. Tigers are different from men, but they fawn on those who feed them, and do so in accordance with their nature. When any of these are killed by them, it is because they have gone against that nature.

‘Those again who are fond of horses preserve their dung in baskets, and their urine in jars. If musquitoes and gadflies light on them, and the grooms brush them suddenly away, the horses break their bits, injure (the ornaments on) their heads, and smash those on their breasts. The more care that is taken of them, the more does their fondness (for their attendants) disappear. Ought not caution to be exercised (in the management of them)?’

 To avoid falling down with bad associates, dispense with them as early as you can. Compare Buddha’s and the Old Testament counsel to stay away from fools.

 Be on your guard in all right ways, and see to it that you behave properly.

 Preserve what is sound management and control as you go along too.

6: Some seem useless to others and thereby remain on their own, inborn terms

A (master) mechanic, called Shih, on his way to Khi, came to Khü- yü an, where he saw an oak-tree, which was used as the altar for the spirits of the land. It was so large that an ox standing behind it could not be seen. It measured a hundred spans round, and rose up eighty cubits on the hill before it threw out any branches, after which there were ten or so, from each of which a boat could be hollowed out. People came to see it in crowds as in a market place, but the mechanic did not look round at it, but held on his way without stopping. One of his workmen, however, looked long and admiringly at it, and then ran on to his master, and said to him,

‘Since I followed you with my axe and bill, I have never seen such a beautiful mass of timber as this. Why would you, Sir, not look round at it, but went on without stopping?’

‘Have done,’ said Mr. Shih, ‘and do not speak about it. It is quite useless. A boat made from its wood would sink; a coffin or shell would quickly rot; an article of furniture would soon go to pieces; a door would be covered with the exuding sap; a pillar would be riddled by insects; the material of it is good for nothing, and hence it is that it has attained to so great an age.’

When Mr. Shih was returning, the altar-oak appeared to him in a dream, and said,

‘What other tree will you compare with me? Will you compare me to one of your ornamental trees? There are hawthorns, pear-trees, orange-trees, pummelo-trees, gourds and other low fruit-bearing plants. When their fruits are ripe, they are knocked down from them, and thrown among the dirt. The large branches are broken, and the smaller are torn away. So it is that their productive ability makes their lives bitter to them; they do not complete their natural term of existence, but come to a premature end in the middle of their time, bringing on themselves the destructive treatment which they ordinarily receive. It is so with all things. I have sought to discover how it was that I was so useless; – I had long done so, till (the effort) nearly caused my death; and now I have learned it: it has been of the greatest use to me. Suppose that I had possessed useful properties, should I have become of the great size that I am? And moreover you and I are both things; – how should one thing thus pass its judgement on another? how is it that you a useless man know all this about me a useless tree?’

When Mr. Shih awoke, he kept thinking about his dream, but the workman said,

‘Being so taken with its uselessness, how is it that it yet acts here as the altar for the spirits of the land?’

‘Be still,’ was the master’s reply, ‘and do not say a word. It simply happened to grow here; and thus those who do not know it do not speak ill of it as an evil thing. If it were not used as the altar, would it be in danger of being cut down? Moreover, the reason of its being preserved is different from that of the preservation of things generally; is not your explaining it from the sentiment which you have expressed wide of the mark?’

 Many comparisons halt, and others are off the mark. Best comparisons are apt.

 To describe is one thing, to compare and liken is quite another. What is best could lie somewhere in the middle areas between accurate, pertinent description and apt comparison, drawing on both of these as is fit.

 If we do not know, it is best in refrain from forming any stubborn opinion. So, much airy faith is to be avoided – as it turns harmful in all too many cases along the way.

7: Two very fortunate ways to preserve something worthy in nature: stay away from it and also say is of no worth

Nan-po, Master Ki, in rambling about the Heights of Shang, saw a large and extraordinary tree. The teams of a thousand chariots might be sheltered under it, and its shade would cover them all! Master Ki said,

‘What a tree is this! It must contain an extraordinary amount of timber! When he looked up, however, at its smaller branches, they were so twisted and crooked that they could not be made into rafters and beams; when he looked down to its root, its stem was divided into so many rounded portions that neither coffin nor shell could be made from them. He licked one of its leaves, and his mouth felt torn and wounded. The smell of it would make a man frantic, as if intoxicated, for more than three whole days together.

‘This, indeed,’ said he, ‘is a tree good for nothing, and it is thus that it has attained to such a size. Ah! and spirit-like men acknowledge this worthlessness (and its result).’

In Sung there is the district of King-shih, in which catalpae, cypresses, and mulberry trees grow well. Those of them which are a span or two or rather more in circumference are cut down by persons who want to make posts to which to tie their monkeys; those which are three or four spans round are cut down by persons who want beams for their lofty and famous houses; and those of seven or eight spans are cut down by noblemen and rich merchants who want single planks for the sides of their coffins. The trees in consequence do not complete their natural term of life, and come to a premature end in the middle of their growth under the axe and bill; – this is the evil that befalls them from their supplying good timber.

In the same way the Kieh (book) specifies oxen that have white foreheads, pigs that have turned-up snouts, and men that are suffering from piles, and forbids their being sacrificed to the Ho. The wizards know them by these peculiarities and consider them to be inauspicious, but spirit-like men consider them on this account to be very fortunate.

 If you decide not to smell well, you should attract less future lovers, and thereby save yourself alimomy. The same goes for looking like a fat and insolvent guy. You don’t know how many deep troubles you get spared from by the “seem useless” tips, do you?

 To be very fortunate and remain the one you are, do not supply yourself as “good timber” to any others. But many do.

8: Deformed, yet still able to support himself

There was the deformed object Shu. His chin seemed to hide his navel; his shoulders were higher than the crown of his head; the knot of his hair pointed to the sky; his five viscera were all compressed into the upper part of his body, and his two thigh bones were like ribs. By sharpening needles and washing clothes he was able to make a living. By sifting rice and cleaning it, he was able to support ten individuals. When the government was calling out soldiers, this poor Shu would bare his arms among the others; when it had any great service to be undertaken, because of his constant ailments, none of the work was assigned to him; when it was giving out grain to the sick, he received three kung, and ten bundles of firewood. If this poor man, so deformed in body, was still able to support himself, and complete his term of life, how much more may they do so, whose deformity is that of their faculties!

 Able to support yourself, you can fulfil your bargains of life.

9: In peril by much publicity, as opposed to the advantage of appearing useless

When Confucius went to Ku, Khieh-yu, the madman of Ku, as he was wandering about, passed by his door, and said,

‘O Phoenix, O Phoenix, how is your virtue degenerated! The future is not to be waited for; the past is not to be sought again! When good order prevails in the world, the sage tries to accomplish all his service; when disorder prevails, he may preserve his life; at the present time, it is enough if he simply escape being punished. Happiness is lighter than a feather, but no one knows how to support it; calamity is heavier than the earth, and yet no one knows how to avoid it. Give over! give over approaching men with the lessons of your virtue! You are in peril! you are in peril, hurrying on where you have marked out the ground against your advance! I avoid publicity, I avoid publicity, that my path may not be injured. I pursue my course, now going backwards, now crookedly, that my feet may not be hurt.

‘The mountain by its trees weakens itself. The grease which ministers to the fire fries itself. The cinnamon tree can be eaten, and therefore it is cut down. The varnish tree is useful, and therefore incisions are made in it. All men know the advantage of being useful, but no one knows the advantage of being useless.’

 Do not work for nothing and little – Happiness can be supported by a course that should not hurt.

 Know the advantages of seeming useless as well as useful.

5 – The Seal of Virtue Complete

1: To be very different, a treasure

In Lu there was a Wang Tai who had lost both his feet; while his disciples who followed and went about with him were as numerous as those of Kung-ni. Khang Ki asked Kung-ni about him, saying,

‘Though Wang Tai is a cripple, the disciples who follow him about divide Lu equally with you, Master. When he stands, he does not teach them; when he sits, he does not discourse to them. But they go to him empty, and come back full. Is there indeed such a thing as instruction without words? and while the body is imperfect, may the mind be complete? What sort of man is he?’

Kung-ni replied,

‘This master is a sage. I have only been too late in going to him. I will make him my teacher; and how much more should those do so who are not equal to me! Why should only the state of Lu follow him? I will lead on all under heaven with me to do so.’

Khang Ki rejoined,

‘He is a man who has lost his feet, and yet he is known as the venerable Wang; – he must be very different from ordinary men. What is the peculiar way in which he employs his mind?’

The reply was,

‘Death and life are great considerations, but they could work no change in him. Though heaven and earth were to be overturned and fall, they would occasion him no loss. His judgement is fixed regarding that in which there is no element of falsehood; and, while other things change, he changes not. The transformations of things are to him the developments prescribed for them, and he keeps fast hold of the author of them.’

Khang Ki said,

‘What do you mean? When we look at things,’ said Kung-ni, ‘as they differ, we see them to be different, (as for instance) the liver and the gall, or Ku and Yüeh; when we look at them, as they agree, we see them all to be a unity. So it is with this (Wang Thai). He takes no knowledge of the things for which his ears and eyes are the appropriate organs, but his mind delights itself in the harmony of (all excellent) qualities. He looks at the unity which belongs to things, and does not perceive where they have suffered loss. He looks on the loss of his feet as only the loss of so much earth.’

Khang Ki said,

‘He is entirely occupied with his (proper) self. By his knowledge he has discovered (the nature of) his mind, and to that he holds as what is unchangeable; but how is it that men make so much of him?’

The reply was,

‘Men do not look into running water as a mirror, but into still water; – it is only the still water that can arrest them all, and keep them (in the contemplation of their real selves). Of things which are what they are by the influence of the earth, it is only the pine and cypress which are the best instances; – in winter as in summer brightly green. Of those which were what they were by the influence of Heaven, the most correct examples were Yao and Shun; fortunate in (thus) maintaining their own life correct, and so as to correct the lives of others.

‘As a verification of the (power of) the original endowment, when it has been preserved, take the result of fearlessness, – how the heroic spirit of a single brave soldier has been thrown into an army of nine hosts. If a man only seeking for fame and able in this way to secure it can produce such an effect, how much more (may we look for a greater result) from one whose rule is over heaven and earth, and holds all things in his treasury, who simply has his lodging in the six members of his body, whom his ears and eyes serve but as conveying emblematic images of things, who comprehends all his knowledge in a unity, and whose mind never dies! If such a man were to choose a day on which he would ascend far on high, men would (seek to) follow him there. But how should he be willing to occupy himself with other men?’

 All those that men make much of, may not have the needed qualities to bear their status and fame. You need to be up to such stuff to thrive and benefit form it.

 Shoulder your matters and get busy developing within at the same time.

2: Examine yourself if striving to look good

Shän-thu Ki a was (another) man who had lost his feet. Along with dze-khân of Käng he studied under the master Po-hwän Wu- zän. Tzu-khân said to him (one day),

‘If I go out first, do you remain behind; and if you go out first, I will remain behind.’

Next day they were again sitting together on the same mat in the hall, when Tzu- khân spoke the same words to him, adding,

‘Now I am about to go out; will you stay behind or not? Moreover, when you see one of official rank (like myself), you do not try to get out of his way; – do you consider yourself equal to one of official rank?’

Shän-thu Ki a replied,

‘In our Master’s school is there indeed such recognition required of official rank? You are one, Sir, whose pleasure is in your official rank, and would therefore take precedence of other men. I have heard that when a mirror is bright, the dust does not rest on it; when dust rests on it the mirror is not bright. When one dwells long with a man of ability and virtue, he comes to be without error. There now is our teacher whom you have chosen to make you greater than you are; and when you still talk in this way, are you not in error?’

Tzu-khân rejoined,

‘A (shattered) object as you are, you would still strive to make yourself out as good as Yao! If I may form an estimate of your virtue, might it not be sufficient to lead you to the examination of yourself?’

The other said,

‘Most criminals, in describing their offences, would make it out that they ought not to have lost (their feet) for them; few would describe them so as to make it appear that they should not have preserved their feet. They are only the virtuous who know that such a calamity was unavoidable, and therefore rest in it as what was appointed for them. When men stand before (an archer like) Î with his bent bow, if they are in the middle of his field, that is the place where they should be hit; and if they be not hit, that also was appointed. There are many with their feet entire who laugh at me because I have lost my feet, which makes me feel vexed and angry. But when I go to our teacher, I throw off that feeling, and return (to a better mood); – he has washed, without my knowing it, the other from me by (his instructions in) what is good. I have attended him now for nineteen years, and have not known that I am without my feet. Now, you, Sir, and I have for the object of our study the (virtue) which is internal, and not an adjunct of the body, and yet you are continually directing your attention to my external body; – are you not wrong in this?’

Tzu-khân felt uneasy, altered his manner and looks, and said,

‘You need not, Sir, say anything more about it.’

 Dwelling for long at some place, get attentive to manners and looks there.

3: Considering that by a crowd of disciples one is simply punished

In Lu there was a cripple, called Shu-shan the Toeless, who came on his heels to see Kung-ni. Kung-ni said to him,

‘By your want of circumspection in the past, Sir, you have incurred such a calamity; — of what use is your coming to me now?’

Toeless said,

‘Through my ignorance of my proper business and taking too little care of my body, I came to lose my feet. But now I am come to you, still possessing what is more honourable than my feet, and which therefore I am anxious to preserve entire. There is nothing which Heaven does not cover, and nothing which Earth does not sustain; you, Master, were regarded by me as doing the part of Heaven and Earth; – how could I know that you would receive me in such a way?’

Confucius rejoined,

‘I am but a poor creature. But why, my master, do you not come inside, where I will try to tell you what I have learned?’

When Toeless had gone out, Confucius said,

‘Be stimulated to effort, my disciples. This toeless cripple is still anxious to learn to make up for the evil of his former conduct; – how much more should those be so whose conduct has been unchallenged!’

Mr. Toeless, however, told Lao Tan (of the interview), saying, ‘Khung Khiu, I apprehend, has not yet attained to be a Perfect man. What has he to do with keeping a crowd of disciples around him? He is seeking to have the reputation of being an extraordinary and marvellous man, and does not know that the Perfect man considers this to be as handcuffs and fetters to him.’

Lao Tan said,

‘Why did you not simply lead him to see the unity of life and death, and that the admissible and inadmissible belong to one category, so freeing him from his fetters? Would this be possible?’

Toeless said,

‘It is the punishment inflicted on him by Heaven. How can he be freed from it?’

 The teaching that former, vicious conduct may carry over into present circumstances and defects, and present vices may spill over similarly much later on, is a part of Buddha’s karma teachings.

4: Appropriately ugly – thus not lost

Duke Âi of Lu asked Kung-ni, saying,

‘There was an ugly man in Wei, called Âi-thâi Tho. His father-in-law, who lived with him, thought so much of him that he could not be away from him. His wife, when she saw him (ugly as he was), represented to her parents, saying,

“I had more than ten times rather be his concubine than the wife of any other man.’

He was never heard to take the lead in discussion, but always seemed to be of the same opinion with others. He had not the position of a ruler, so as to be able to save men from death. He had no revenues, so as to be able to satisfy men’s craving for food. He was ugly enough, moreover, to scare the whole world. He agreed with men instead of trying to lead them to adopt his views; his knowledge did not go beyond his immediate neighbourhood. And yet his father-in-law and his wife were of one mind about him in his presence (as I have said); —he must have been different from other men. I called him, and saw him. Certainly he was ugly enough to scare the whole world. He had not lived with me, however. for many months, when I was drawn to the man; and before he had been with me a full year, I had confidence in him. The state being without a chief minister, I (was minded) to commit the government to him. He responded to my proposal sorrowfully, and looked undecided as if he would fain have declined it. I was ashamed of myself (as inferior to him), but finally gave the government into his hands. In a little time, however, he left me and went away. I was sorry and felt that I had sustained a loss, and as if there were no other to share the pleasures of the kingdom with me. What sort of man was he?’

Kung-ni said,

‘Once when I was sent on a mission to Ku, I saw some pigs sucking at their dead mother. After a little they looked with rapid glances, when they all left her, and ran away. They felt that she did not see them, and that she was no longer like themselves. What they had loved in their mother was not her bodily figure, but what had given animation to her figure. When a man dies in battle, they do not at his interment employ the usual appendages of plumes: as to supplying shoes to one who has lost his feet, there is no reason why he should care for them; – in neither case is there the proper reason for their use.

The members of the royal harem do not pare their nails nor pierce their ears; when a man is newly married, he remains (for a time) absent from his official duties, and unoccupied with them. That their bodies might be perfect was sufficient to make them thus dealt with; – how much greater results should be expected from men whose mental gifts are perfect!

This Âi-thâi Tho was believed by men, though he did not speak a word, and was loved by them, though he did no special service for them. He made men appoint him to the government of their states, afraid only that he would not accept the appointment. He must have been a man whose powers were perfect, though his realisation of them was not manifested in his person.’

Duke Âi said,

‘What is meant by saying that his powers were complete?’

Kung-ni replied,

‘Death and life, preservation and ruin, failure and success, poverty and wealth, superiority and inferiority, blame and praise, hunger and thirst, cold and heat; – these are the changes of circumstances, the operation of our appointed lot. Day and night they succeed to one another before us, but there is no wisdom able to discover to what they owe their origination. They are not sufficient therefore to disturb the harmony (of the nature), and are not allowed to enter into the treasury of intelligence. To cause this harmony and satisfaction ever to be diffused, while the feeling of pleasure is not lost from the mind; to allow no break to arise in this state day or night, so that it is always spring-time in his relations with external things; in all his experiences to realise in his mind what is appropriate to each season (of the year): these are the characteristics of him whose powers are perfect.’

‘And what do you mean by the realisation of these powers not being manifested in the person?’ (pursued further the duke).

The reply was,

‘There is nothing so level as the surface of a pool of still water. It may serve as an example of what I mean. All within its circuit is preserved (in peace), and there comes to it no agitation from without. The virtuous efficacy is the perfect cultivation of the harmony (of the nature). Though the realisation of this be not manifested in the person, things cannot separate themselves (from its influence).’

Some days afterwards duke Âi told this conversation to Master Min, saying,

‘Formerly it seemed to me the work of the sovereign to stand in court with his face to the south, to rule the kingdom, and to pay good heed to the accounts of the people concerned, lest any should come to a (miserable) death; – this I considered to be the sum (of his duty). Now that I have heard that description of the Perfect man, I fear that my idea is not the real one, and that, by employing myself too lightly, I may cause the ruin of my state. I and Khung Khiu are not on the footing of ruler and subject, but on that of a virtuous friendship.’

 The blessed one was ugly enough to scare others and thereby not lose himself to them.

5: Find enjoyments, that deep and up to Heavenly nourishment, and also likings, and increase your life by them too

A person who had no lips, whose legs were bent so that he could only walk on his toes, and who was (otherwise) deformed, addressed his counsels to duke Ling of Wei, who was so pleased with him, that he looked on a perfectly formed man as having a lean and small neck in comparison with him. Another who had a large goitre like an earthenware jar addressed his counsels to duke Hwan of Khi, who was so pleased with him that he looked on a perfectly formed man as having a neck lean and small in comparison with him. So it is that when one’s virtue is extraordinary, (any deficiency in) his bodily form may be forgotten. When men do not forget what is (easily) forgotten, and forget what is not (easily) forgotten, we have a case of real oblivion. Therefore the sagely man has that in which his mind finds its enjoyment, and (looks on) wisdom as (but) the shoots from an old stump; agreements with others are to him but so much glue; kindnesses are (but the arts of) intercourse; and great skill is (but as) merchants’ wares. The sagely man lays no plans; – of what use would wisdom be to him? He has no cutting and hacking to do; – of what use would glue be to him? He has lost nothing; of what use would arts of intercourse be to him? He has no goods to dispose of; – what need has he to play the merchant? (The want of) these four things are the nourishment of (his) Heavenly (nature); that nourishment is its Heavenly food. Since he receives this food from Heaven, what need has he for anything of man’s (devising)? He has the bodily form of man, but not the passions and desires of (other) men. He has the form of man, and therefore he is a man. Being without the passions and desires of men, their approvings and disapprovings are not to be found in him. How insignificant and small is (the body) by which he belongs to humanity! How grand and great is he in the unique perfection of his Heavenly (nature)!

Master Hui said to Master Chuang,

‘Can a man indeed be without desires and passions?’

The reply was,

‘He can.’

‘But on what grounds do you call him a man, who is thus without passions and desires?’

Master Chuang said,

‘The Tao gives him his personal appearance (and powers); Heaven gives him his bodily form; how should we not call him a man?’

Master Hui rejoined,

‘Since you call him a man, how can he be without passions and desires?’

The reply was,

‘You are misunderstanding what I mean by passions and desires. What I mean when I say that he is without these is, that this man does not by his likings and dislikings do any inward harm to his body; – he always pursues his course without effort, and does not (try to) increase his (store of) life.’

Master Hui rejoined,

‘If there were not that increasing of (the amount) of life, how would he get his body’?’

Master Chuang said,

‘The Tao gives him his personal appearance (and powers); Heaven gives him his bodily form; and he does not by his likings and dislikings do any internal harm to his body. But now you, Sir, deal with your spirit as if it were something external to you, and subject your vital powers to toil. You sing (your ditties), leaning against a tree; you go to sleep, grasping the stump of a rotten dryandra tree. Heaven selected for you the bodily form (of a man), and you babble about what is strong and what is white.’

 A bodily form depends in part on passions and desires as employed. A wise man does not let them hurt his soul-sides.

 Fit enjoyment and humour may increase your life-span. Research findings document it, and psychodynamic, id-linked theory explains why too.

6 – The Great and Most Honoured Master

1: Natural perfection – is not that Human?

He who knows the part which the Heavenly (in him) plays, and knows (also) that which the Human (in him ought to) play, has reached the perfection (of knowledge). He who knows the part which the Heavenly plays (knows) that it is naturally born with him; he who knows the part which the Human ought to play (proceeds) with the knowledge which he possesses to nourish it in the direction of what he does not (yet) know: to complete one’s natural term of years and not come to an untimely end in the middle of his course is the fullness of knowledge. Although it be so, there is an evil (attending this condition). Such knowledge still awaits the confirmation of it as correct; it does so because it is not yet determined. How do we know that what we call the Heavenly (in us) is not the Human? and that what we call the Human is not the Heavenly? There must be the True man, and then there is the True knowledge.

 A human’s life is a course to see through.

2: Shallow attempts to label what is Heavenly, may fail

Here we meet with the True Man, a Master of the Tao. He is the same as the Perfect Man, the Spirit-like Man, and the Sagely Man. – James Legge.

What is meant by ‘the True Man?’

The True men of old did not reject (the views of) the few; they did not seek to accomplish (their ends) like heroes (before others); they did not lay plans to attain those ends. Being such, though they might make mistakes, they had no occasion for repentance; though they might succeed, they had no self-complacency. Being such, they could ascend the loftiest heights without fear; they could pass through water without being made wet by it; they could go into fire without being burnt; so it was that by their knowledge they ascended to and reached the Tao.

The True men of old did not dream when they slept, had no anxiety when they awoke, and did not care that their food should be pleasant. Their breathing came deep and silently. The breathing of the true man comes (even) from his heels, while men generally breathe (only) from their throats. When men are defeated in argument, their words come from their gullets as if they were vomiting. Where lusts and desires are deep, the springs of the Heavenly are shallow.

The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning had been, and they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they forgot (all fear of death), and returned (to their state before life). Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tao, and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly. Such were they who are called the True men.

 One is to accept and rejoice in life.

 To breathe deeply and silently is a great thing to do. It may be cultivated.

3: A sage could profit even from injury

Being such, their minds were free from all thought; their demeanour was still and unmoved; their foreheads beamed simplicity. Whatever coldness came from them was like that of autumn; whatever warmth came from them was like that of spring. Their joy and anger assimilated to what we see in the four seasons. They did in regard to all things what was suitable, and no one could know how far their action would go. Therefore the sagely man might, in his conduct of war, destroy a state without losing the hearts of the people; his benefits and favours might extend to a myriad generations without his being a lover of men. Hence he who tries to share his joys with others is not a sagely man; he who manifests affection is not benevolent; he who observes times and seasons (to regulate his conduct) is not a man of wisdom; he to whom profit and injury are not the same is not a superior man; he who acts for the sake of the name of doing so, and loses his (proper) self is not the (right) scholar; and he who throws away his person in a way which is not the true (way) cannot command the service of others. Such men as Hu Pu-kieh, Wu Kwang, Po-i, Shu-khi, the count of Ki, Hsü-yü, Ki Thâ, and Shän-thu Ti, all did service for other men, and sought to secure for them what they desired, not seeking their own pleasure.

 In the long art of living it should work well to go sagely for desired benefits, profits, and favours.

 The fit scholar does not sink and lose his self; he builds it.

4: Appropriate generosity blandly support earnest efforts

The True men of old presented the aspect of judging others aright, but without being partisans; of feeling their own insufficiency, but being without flattery or cringing. Their peculiarities were natural to them, but they were not obstinately attached to them; their humility was evident, but there was nothing of unreality or display about it. Their placidity and satisfaction had the appearance of joy; their every movement seemed to be a necessity to them. Their accumulated attractiveness drew men’s looks to them; their blandness fixed men’s attachment to their virtue. They seemed to accommodate themselves to the (manners of their age), but with a certain severity; their haughty indifference was beyond its control. Unceasing seemed their endeavours to keep (their mouths) shut; when they looked down, they had forgotten what they wished to say.

They considered punishments to be the substance (of government, and they never incurred it); ceremonies to be its supporting wings (and they always observed them); wisdom (to indicate) the time (for action, and they always selected it); and virtue to be accordance (with others), and they were all-accordant. Considering punishments to be the substance (of government), yet their generosity appeared in the (manner of their) infliction of death. Considering ceremonies to be its supporting wings, they pursued by means of them their course in the world. Considering wisdom to indicate the time (for action), they felt it necessary to employ it in (the direction of) affairs. Considering virtue to be accordance (with others), they sought to ascend its height along with all who had feet (to climb it). (Such were they), and yet men really thought that they did what they did by earnest effort.

 Go for proper blandness of affairs; accommodate as carefully as can be to such beams of Reality.

5: When the springs are dried up, it may be best to forget them

In this way they were one and the same in all their likings and dislikings. Where they liked, they were the same; where they did not like, they were the same. In the former case where they liked, they were fellow-workers with the Heavenly (in them); in the latter where they disliked, they were coworkers with the Human in them. The one of these elements (in their nature) did not overcome the other. Such were those who are called the True men.

Death and life are ordained, just as we have the constant succession of night and day; —in both cases from Heaven. Men have no power to do anything in reference to them; —such is the constitution of things. There are those who specially regard Heaven as their father, and they still love It (distant as It is); – how much more should they love That which stands out (Superior and Alone)! Some specially regard their ruler as superior to themselves, and will give their bodies to die for him; how much more should they do so for That which is their true (Ruler)! When the springs are dried up, the fishes collect together on the land. Than that they should moisten one another there by the damp about them, and keep one another wet by their slime, it would be better for them to forget one another in the rivers and lakes. And when men praise Yao and condemn Kieh, it would be better to forget them both, and seek the renovation of the Tao.

 Proper, regular living reflects adherence to one’s Heavenly ordained lot, most of all.

6: In the Grand Reality the world lies

There is the great Mass (of nature); – I find the support of my body on it; my life is spent in toil on it; my old age seeks ease on it; at death I find rest in it; – what makes my life a good makes my death also a good. If you hide away a boat in the ravine of a hill, and hide away the hill in a lake, you will say that (the boat) is secure; but at midnight there shall come a strong man and carry it off on his back, while you in the dark know nothing about it. You may hide away anything, whether small or great, in the most suitable place, and yet it shall disappear from it. But if you could hide the world in the world, so that there was nowhere to which it could be removed, this would be the grand reality of the ever-during Thing. When the body of man comes from its special mould, there is even then occasion for joy; but this body undergoes a myriad transformations, and does not at once reach its perfection; – does it not thus afford occasion for joys incalculable? Therefore the sagely man enjoys himself in that from which there is no possibility of separation, and by which all things are preserved. He considers early death or old age, his beginning and his ending, all to be good, and in this other men imitate him; – how much more will they do so in regard to That Itself on which all things depend, and from which every transformation arises!

 The sagely man enjoys suitably.

 Be good, and imitating men may arise.

 Suitable places shall disappear at last, while ever-enduring things last!

7: Refrain from being considered deep

This is the Tao; – there is in It emotion and sincerity, but It does nothing and has no bodily form. It may be handed down (by the teacher), but may not be received (by his scholars). It may be apprehended (by the mind), but It cannot be seen. It has Its root and ground (of existence) in Itself. Before there were heaven and earth, from of old, there It was, securely existing. From It came the mysterious existences of spirits, from It the mysterious existence of God. It produced heaven; It produced earth. It was before the Tai- ki, and yet could not be considered high; It was below all space, and yet could not be considered deep. It was produced before heaven and earth, and yet could not be considered to have existed long; It was older than the highest antiquity, and yet could not be considered old.

Shih-wei got It, and by It adjusted heaven and earth. Fu-hsi got It, and by It penetrated to the mystery of the maternity of the primary matter. The Wei-tâu [the Great Bear constellation] got It, and from all antiquity has made no eccentric movement. The Sun and Moon got It, and from all antiquity have not intermitted (their bright shining). Khan- pei got It, and by It became lord of Kun-lun. Feng-i got It, and by It enjoyed himself in the Great River. Kien Wu got It, and by It dwelt on mount Tai. Hwang-Ti got It, and by It ascended the cloudy sky. Kwan-hsü got It, and by It dwelt in the Dark Palace. Yü-khiang got It, and by It was set on the North Pole. Hsi Wang-mu got It, and by It had her seat in (the palace of) Shâo- kwang. No one knows Its beginning; no one knows Its end. Master Peng got It, and lived on from the time of the lord of Yü to that of the Five Chiefs. Fu Yüeh got It, and by It became chief minister to Wu-ting, (who thus) in a trice became master of the kingdom. (After his death), Fu Yüeh mounted to the eastern portion of the Milky Way, where, riding on Sagittarius and Scorpio, he took his place among the stars.

 Great sincerity is not to be thought of as old-fashioned.

 To be considered deep and one of the stars is not rising beyond dichotomies, and hence a little inferior. It might be better to be enigmatic.

8: A sage may communicate the Way to receptive ones, but will he?

Nan-po Tzu-khwei, asked Nü Yü, saying,

‘You are old, Sir, while your complexion is like that of a child; – how is it so?’

The reply was,

‘I have become acquainted with the Tao.’

The other said,

‘Can I learn the Tao?’

Nü Yü said,

‘No. How can you? You, Sir, are not the man to do so. There was Pu-liang Î who had the abilities of a sagely man, but not the Tao, while I had the Tao, but not the abilities. I wished, however, to teach him, if, peradventure, he might become the sagely man indeed. If he should not do so, it was easy (I thought) for one possessing the Tao of the sagely man to communicate it to another possessing his abilities.

Accordingly, I proceeded to do so, but with deliberation. After three days, he was able to banish from his mind all worldly (matters). This accomplished, I continued my intercourse with him in the same way; and in seven days he was able to banish from his mind all thought of men and things. This accomplished, and my instructions continued, after nine days, he was able to count his life as foreign to himself. This accomplished, his mind was afterwards clear as the morning; and after this he was able to see his own individuality. That individuality perceived, he was able to banish all thought of Past or Present. Freed from this, he was able to penetrate to (the truth that there is no difference between) life and death; – (how) the destruction of life is not dying, and the communication of other life is not living. (The Tao) is a thing which accompanies all other things and meets them, which is present when they are overthrown and when they obtain their completion. Its name is Tranquillity amid all Disturbances, meaning that such Disturbances lead to Its Perfection.’

‘And how did you, being alone (without any teacher), learn all this?’

‘I learned it,’ was the reply, ‘from the son of Fu-mo; he learned it from the grandson of Lo-sung; he learned it from Shan-ming; he learned it from Nieh-hsü ; he, from Hsü-yi; he, from Wu-âo; he, from Hsü an-ming; he, from Zhan-liâo; and he learned it from Î-shih.’

 To go for deepening the clear mind in tranquillity is quite a thing of yoga.

 Sound individuality is fit in eternity, says the book.

9: Try to rise above pressing conditions if possible

Tzu-sze, Tzu-yü, Tzu-li, and Tzu-lâi, these four men, were talking together, when some one said,

‘Who can suppose the head to be made from nothing, the spine from life, and the rump-bone from death? Who knows how death and birth, living on and disappearing, compose the one body?—I would be friends with him.’

The four men looked at one another and laughed, but no one seized with his mind the drift of the questions. All, however, were friends together.

Not long after Tzu-yü fell ill, and Tzu-sze went to inquire for him.

‘How great,’ said (the sufferer), ‘is the Creator! That He should have made me the deformed object that I am!’ He was a crooked hunchback; his five viscera were squeezed into the upper part of his body; his chin bent over his navel; his shoulder was higher than his crown; on his crown was an ulcer pointing to the sky; his breath came and went in gasps: yet he was easy in his mind, and made no trouble of his condition. He limped to a well, looked at himself in it, and said,

‘Alas that the Creator should have made me the deformed object that I am!’ Tzu said,

‘Do you dislike your condition?’

He replied,

‘No, why should I dislike it? If He were to transform my left arm into a cock, I should be watching with it the time of the night; if He were to transform my right arm into a cross- bow, I should then be looking for a hsiâo to (bring down and) roast; if He were to transform my rump-bone into a wheel, and my spirit into a horse, I should then be mounting it, and would not change it for another steed. Moreover, when we have got (what we are to do), there is the time (of life) in which to do it; when we lose that (at death), submission (is what is required). When we rest in what the time requires, and manifest that submission, neither joy nor sorrow can find entrance (to the mind). This would be what the ancients called loosing the cord by which (the life) is suspended. But one hung up cannot loose himself; – he is held fast by his bonds. And that creatures cannot overcome Heaven (the inevitable) is a long-acknowledged fact; – why should I hate my condition?’

 Someone hung up is held fast.

10: To gasp silently as at the point of death long before your parting – that is quite a secret of spiritual living

Before long Tzu-lâi fell ill, and lay gasping at the point of death, while his wife and children stood around him wailing. Tzu-li went to ask for him, and said to them, ‘Hush! Get out of the way! Do not disturb him as he is passing through his change.’

Then, leaning against the door, he said (to the dying man), ‘Great indeed is the Creator! What will He now make you to become? Where will He take you to? Will He make you the liver of a rat, or the arm of an insect?

Tzu-lâi replied,

‘Wherever a parent tells a son to go, east, west, south, or north, he simply follows the command. The Yin and Yang are more to a man than his parents are. If they are hastening my death, and I do not quietly submit to them, I shall be obstinate and rebellious. There is the great Mass (of nature); – I find the support of my body in it; my life is spent in toil on it; my old age seeks ease on it; at death I find rest on it: what has made my life a good will make my death also a good.

‘Here now is a great founder, casting his metal. If the metal were to leap up (in the pot), and say, “I must be made into a (sword like the) Mo-yeh,” the great founder would be sure to regard it as uncanny. So, again, when a form is being fashioned in the mould of the womb, if it were to say, “I must become a man; I must become a man,” the Creator would be sure to regard it as uncanny. When we once understand that heaven and earth are a great melting-pot, and the Creator a great founder, where can we have to go to that shall not be right for us? We are born as from a quiet sleep, and we die to a calm awaking.’

 You do not have to quietly submit to inferior conditions and unwanted death if there are good things still to do. Therefore, build more future good karma for yourself, at least.

 Many are taught to pant measuredly and rather inaudibly for a while each day to wise up. Ujjayi pranayama – the first steps of it.

11: What we cannot understand full well, and does not seem to be “according to the rules”, does not have to be inferior and bad. It could even be in accord with Heaven

Tzu-sang Hu, Mäng Tzu-fan, and Tzu Kin Kang, these three men, were friends together. (One of them said),

‘Who can associate together without any (thought of) such association, or act together without any (evidence of) such co-operation? Who can mount up into the sky and enjoy himself amidst the mists, disporting beyond the utmost limits (of things), and forgetting all others as if this were living, and would have no end?’

The three men looked at one another and laughed, not perceiving the drift of the questions; and they continued to associate together as friends.

Suddenly, after a time, Tzu-sang Hia died. Before he was buried, Confucius heard of the event, and sent Tzu-kung to go and see if he could render any assistance. One of the survivors had composed a ditty, and the other was playing on his lute. Then they sang together in unison,

‘Ah! come, Sang Hu ah! come, Sang Hu!
Your being true you’ve got again,
While we, as men, still here remain

Tzu-kung hastened forward to them, and said,

‘I venture to ask whether it be according to the rules to be singing thus in the presence of the corpse?’

The two men looked at each other, and laughed, saying,

‘What does this man know about the idea that underlies (our) rules?’

Tzu-kung returned to Confucius, and reported to him, saying,

‘What sort of men are those? They had made none of the usual preparations, and treated the body as a thing foreign to them. They were singing in the presence of the corpse, and there was no change in their countenances. I cannot describe them; – what sort of men are they?’

Confucius replied,

‘Those men occupy and enjoy themselves in what is outside the (common) ways (of the world), while I occupy and enjoy myself in what lies within those ways. There is no common ground for those of such different ways; and when I sent you to condole with those men, I was acting stupidly. They, moreover, make man to be the fellow of the Creator, and seek their enjoyment in the formless condition of heaven and earth. They consider life to be an appendage attached, an excrescence annexed to them, and death to be a separation of the appendage and a dispersion of the contents of the excrescence. With these views, how should they know wherein death and life are to be found, or what is first and what is last? They borrow different substances, and pretend that the common form of the body is composed of them. They dismiss the thought of (its inward constituents like) the liver and gall, and (its outward constituents), the ears and eyes. Again and again they end and they begin, having no knowledge of first principles. They occupy themselves ignorantly and vaguely with what (they say) lies outside the dust and dirt (of the world), and seek their enjoyment in the business of doing nothing. How should they confusedly address themselves to the ceremonies practised by the common people, and exhibit themselves as doing so to the ears and eyes of the multitude?’

Tzu-kung said,

‘Yes, but why do you, Master, act according to the (common) ways (of the world)?’

The reply was,

‘I am in this under the condemning sentence of Heaven. Nevertheless, I will share with you (what I have attained to).’

Tzu-kung rejoined,

‘I venture to ask the method which you pursue;’ and Confucius said,

‘Fishes breed and grow in the water; man develops in the Tao. Growing in the water, the fishes cleave the pools, and their nourishment is supplied to them. Developing in the Tao, men do nothing, and the enjoyment of their life is secured. Hence it is said, “Fishes forget one another in the rivers and lakes; men forget one another in the arts of the Tao.”‘

Tzu-kung said,

‘I venture to ask about the man who stands aloof from others.’

The reply was,

‘He stands aloof from other men, but he is in accord with Heaven! Hence it is said, “The small man of Heaven is the superior man among men; the superior man among men is the small man of Heaven!”‘

 To seek anything formless is not to seek anything. And that is an essential part of fit yoga, such as taught by Lahiri Mahasaya, for example in his commentary to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

 Associate well enough in the arts of the Way or remain aloof.

 You can enjoy having no mind for dirty business and develop fit and sound Ways to be secured, rather.

12: “We all have our individuality”

Yen Hui asked Kung-ni, saying,

‘When the mother of Mäng-sun Zhâi died, in all his wailing for her he did not shed a tear; in the core of his heart he felt no distress; during all the mourning rites, he exhibited no sorrow. Without these three things, he (was considered to have) discharged his mourning well; – is it that in the state of Lu one who has not the reality may yet get the reputation of having it? I think the matter very strange.’

Kung-ni said,

‘That Mäng-sun carried out (his views) to the utmost. He was advanced in knowledge; but (in this case) it was not possible for him to appear to be negligent (in his ceremonial observances), but he succeeded in being really so to himself. Mäng-sun does not know either what purposes life serves, or what death serves; he does not know which should be first sought, and which last. If he is to be transformed into something else, he will simply await the transformation which he does not yet know. This is all he does. And moreover, when one is about to undergo his change, how does he know that it has not taken place? And when he is not about to undergo his change, how does he know that it has taken place? Take the case of me and you: are we in a dream from which we have not begun to awake?

‘Moreover, Mäng-sun presented in his body the appearance of being agitated, but in his mind he was conscious of no loss. The death was to him like the issuing from one’s dwelling at dawn, and no (more terrible) reality. He was more awake than others were. When they wailed, he also wailed, having in himself the reason why he did so. And we all have our individuality which makes us what we are as compared together; determine in any case correctly that individuality? Moreover you dream that you are a bird, and seem to be soaring to the sky; or that you are a fish, and seem to be diving in the deep. But you do not know whether we that are now speaking are awake or in a dream. It is not the meeting with what is pleasurable that produces the smile; it is not the smile suddenly produced that produces the arrangement (of the person). When one rests in what has been arranged, and puts away all thought of the transformation, he is in unity with the mysterious Heaven.’

 Talk of dreams may not be of more value than dreams themselves.

13: What is worse that marring instruction?

Î-r Tzu having gone to see Hsü Yu, the latter said to him,

‘What benefit have you received from Yao?’

The reply was,

‘Yao says to me, “You must yourself labour at benevolence and righteousness, and be able to tell clearly which is right and which wrong (in conflicting statements).”‘

Hsü Yu rejoined,

‘Why then have you come to me? Since Yao has put on you the brand of his benevolence and righteousness, and cut off your nose with his right and wrong, how will you be able to wander in the way of aimless enjoyment, of unregulated contemplation, and the ever-changing forms (of dispute)?’

Î-r dze said,

‘That may be; but I should like to skirt along its hedges.’

‘But,’ said the other, ‘it cannot be. Eyes without pupils can see nothing of the beauty of the eyebrows, eyes, and other features; the blind have nothing to do with the green, yellow, and variegated colours of the sacrificial robes.’

Î-r dze rejoined,

‘Yet, when Wu-kwang lost his beauty, Kü-liang his strength, and Hwang- Ti his wisdom, they all (recovered them) under the moulding (of your system); – how do you know that the Maker will not obliterate the marks of my branding, and supply my dismemberment, so that, again perfect in my form, I may follow you as my teacher?’

Hsu Yü said,

‘Ah! that cannot yet be known. I will tell you the rudiments. O my Master! O my Master! He gives to all things their blended qualities, and does not count it any righteousness; His favours reach to all generations, and He does not count it any benevolence; He is more ancient than the highest antiquity, and does not count Himself old; He overspreads heaven and supports the earth; He carves and fashions all bodily forms, and does not consider it any act of skill; – this is He in whom I find my enjoyment.’

 Who keeps company with what is bad bad, deals with dirt.

14: Being free from following is a freedom too

Yen Hui said, ‘I am making progress.’

Kung-ni replied, ‘What do you mean?’

‘I have ceased to think of benevolence and righteousness,’ was the reply.

‘Very well; but that is not enough.’

Another day, Hui again saw Kung-ni, and said, ‘I am making progress.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I have lost all thought of ceremonies and music.’

‘Very well, but that is not enough.’

A third day, Hui again saw (the Master), and said, ‘I am making progress.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I sit and forget everything.’

Kung-ni changed countenance, and said, ‘What do you mean by saying that you sit and forget (everything)?’

Yen Hui replied,

‘My connexion with the body and its parts is dissolved; my perceptive organs are discarded. Thus leaving my material form, and bidding farewell to my knowledge, I am become one with the Great Pervader. This I call sitting and forgetting all things.’

Kung-ni said,

‘One (with that Pervader), you are free from all likings; so transformed, you are become impermanent. You have, indeed, become superior to me! I must ask leave to follow in your steps.’

 Forgetting all knowledge forms part of utter freedom too. Can you handle it?

15: Along the Gentle Middle Path you are not advised to accept poverty, but to get out of it as soon as you can

Tzu-yü and Tzu-sang were friends. (Once), when it had rained continuously for ten days, Tzu-yü said,

‘I fear that Tzu-sang may be in distress.’

So he wrapped up some rice, and went to give it to him to eat. When he came to Tzu- sang’s door, there issued from it sounds between singing and wailing; a lute was struck, and there came the words,

‘O Father! O Mother! O Heaven! O Men!’

The voice could not sustain itself, and the line was hurriedly pronounced. Tzu- yü entered and said,

‘Why are you singing, Sir, this line of poetry in such a way?’

The other replied,

‘I was thinking, and thinking in vain, how it was that I was brought to such extremity. Would my parents have wished me to be so poor? Heaven overspreads all without any partial feeling, and so does Earth sustain all; – would Heaven and Earth make me so poor with any unkindly feeling? I was trying to find out who had done it, and I could not do so. But here I am in this extremity!—it is what was appointed for me!’


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