text size

Response Of Matter To The Movement Of The Cosmic Spirit.

Top comments

{{ annotation.praises_count }} Likes
{{ annotation.creator_alias }}
{{ annotation.creator_score }}

There are no comments yet. Be the first to start comment or request an explanation.

 Taoism Index Previous Next A COMPARISON.    We may compare the Taoist view of life in one respect with that of Socrates. Socrates maintained that he was at his best when his daimonion was working, and his thought clearest when he was most sure of divine guidance. Prof. Bury says that "Socrates represents his own life-work as a sort of religious quest: he feels convinced that in devoting himself to philosophic discussion he had done the bidding of a superhuman guide and he goes to death rather than be untrue to his personal conviction. Because of this he became the champion of free discussion and the supremacy of the individual conscience over human law." And we have the Taoist view that human enactments and the wisdom of Sages may be abolished. Tradition binds man and therefore is inferior to "conscience". If men followed the Tao they would never be opportunists, but always act according to principle and right. Both had unbounded faith in spiritual law. Mere human knowledge is of itself wholly inadequate and uncertain. But the Tao is always full to those who have the mind for it. V DISSERTATION ON THE RESPONSE OF MATTER TO THE MOVEMENT OF THE COSMIC SPIRIT {notes}    The title is "Tao Ying (###)" Tao, the Cosmic spirit. There is the idea of 'hovering over,' 'moving on the face' of all things, and all, in acting, give an automatic response to the tao. In examining the good and evil of every event, we shall see the results of the corresponding responses.    The mystery of existence.—Great Purity asked Exhaustless1 whether he knew anything of the Tao. Exhaustless replied he knew nothing. He also asked Wu-wei ,2 who replied he had some knowledge. "And is the knowledge you have of it finite?" "Yes, it is finite," Wu-wei replied. "Well, then, how much do you know about the Tao?" "I know that such things as yieldingness, firmness, courtesy and severity, the negative and positive, the recondite and clear are possible through the Tao. Thus it is possible for the Tao to enwrap Heaven and Earth, and to operate with perfect response through the whole universe. This is the limit of my knowledge."    Great-Purity also asked Without-Beginning ,3 saying: "Formerly I asked Exhaustless about the Tao, who replied he had no knowledge; and subsequently I asked Wu-wei who replied that he had knowledge. We have thus the knowledge of Wu-wei and the non-knowledge of Exhaustless. Which of them is right and which is wrong?" Without-Beginning replied, "The non-knowledge of Exhaustless is the more profound; knowledge is superficial; non-knowledge knows the intrinsic, but knowledge only the extrinsic; non-knowledge sees the essence, knowledge the accident." Great-Purity was surprised, and, sighing, replied; "Thus, then, is non-knowledge the same as knowledge? And is not-knowing the same as knowing? There is no difference, who but knows that knowledge is non-knowledge and non-knowledge is (really) knowledge. Isn't that so?" Without-Beginning replied, "The Tao cannot be heard; the Tao that can be heard is not the Tao. The Tao cannot be seen; that which can be seen is not the Tao. The Tao cannot be spoken; were it possible to express it, then it would not be the Tao. Who is it that can understanding the form of the formless?" Thus Lao Tzû said: (Cha)4 THE GOODNESS THAT IS RECOGNIZED AS SUCH BY ALL THE WORLD IS NOT THE GOODNESS: AND SO IT MAY BE SAID, HE WHO KNOWS DOES NOT SPEAK, AND HE WHO SPEAKS DOES NOT KNOW.    A case of conscience. Silence is golden.—Duke Pei asked Confucius "May men use dark hints or an obscure and subtle way of speech?" Confucius made no response. Duke Pei5 said, "What about a stone thrown into the water?" Confucius replied, "The expert swimmers of Wu and Yüeh would get to the bottom and feel it." He again enquired: "What about the effect of throwing water into water? No trace of one, as distinct from the other, would be found. Confucius replied, "The two waters Chih and Sheng of Ch‛i, though mixed, would be detected as to the tastes of each by such as I Shen." Duke Pei then said, "Such being the case, men certainly cannot use occult language." To which Confucius replied, "Why say it cannot be done?" Who knows the sense of words that are spoken? He who knows what words signify does not express (his thought) in words."6    "A fisherman must enter the deep water to catch his fish; a hunter must brave danger and enter the lair to get his prey. This is inevitable and not a mere matter of pleasure. Hence the most perfect language7 does away with words, and the perfect action consists in Wu-wei. He who has but a superficial knowledge of a matter in dispute, is shallow and fails to go to the root."    Duke Pei failed to adopt this advice (of Confucius) and died at Yu Shih. Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    This fits the case of Duke Pei exactly.    Theoretical laws are useless.—Hui Tzû created a system of laws for King Hui for governing the kingdom. When completed, these were shown to all the scholars, who, without exception, praised them. They were then presented to King Hui, who was very pleased with them and showed them to Tsê Chien, who said they were good. King Hui said, "Since they are good they should be put into operation." But on Chai Tsê Chien objecting to the suggestion, the King wanted to know his reason. Tsê Chien replied that when men carried a heavy log of wood, they ha'd and ho'd, those behind responding to those before. This is the song they have for stimulus in carrying heavy loads. They do not use the more classic songs of Cheng and Wei with their high plaintive notes, simply because such are not so fitting to the work. The rites for governing a country do not consist of written enactments. Too much law is not good. This is as Lao Tzu says: (Cha.)    The art of education is to teach, "How to see."9—T‛ien Pien was expounding certain principles of the Tao to the King of Ch‛i, and the King, in the conversation, said, "What I am faced with are the practical policies of the Kingdom of Ch‛i; these principles of yours are useless as means to abolish the distresses of the land. I want to hear something definite and practical on the art of government." T‛ien P‛ien replied that though his words contained nothing on government, yet they could be made to apply. And he gave this illustration. "A forest is composed of raw timber; it has no ready-made material. Wood must be dressed accordingly to suit the need. Would the king kindly examine the principles he had stated and adopt them to the needs of the government of Ch‛i. The King would find them adaptable. Though they may not abolish the embarrassments of the country, yet this is the Tao that moves Heaven and changes the world in the evolutionary flux. The affairs of Ch‛i are small in comparison." This episode exemplifies Lao Tan's statement: (Cha.)    The King wanted practical advice on the administration of Ch‛i, and T‛ien P‛ien gave him general principles. Now the actual manufactured article is of less importance than the trees of the forest, since the one depends on the other. The forest is nothing without rain; rain is nothing without the operations of Yin and Yang; Yin and Yang are nothing without the essential co-operating harmony; harmony is nothing without the Tao.    A word of advice to the avaricious profiteer. True self-interest.—When Sheng, the Duke of Pei, gained the kingdom of Ching, and on his failing to distribute the contents of the Treasury between the people, members of his party, after the lapse of seven days, came in and told him, "If what is gained illicitly is not distributed to the public, distress is sure to come. It is better to burn the treasures, if they cannot be distributed amongst the people, so that disaster may not befall us." Duke Pei would not listen to the advice. In nine days Duke Shê attacked the place, and having gained entrance, distributed the goods in the treasury amongst the multitude: he also issued the munitions of war, in the Treasury, to the people. In consequence of this he captured Duke Pei after investing his palace for nineteen days. The Kingdom didn't really belong to Pei and his desire for it may be said to be a piece of avarice. That he failed to act generously towards the people, and serve his own true self-interest thereby, showed that he was most stupid as well as avaricious. The niggardliness of Duke Pei was in no way different from the love of the owl for its young .10 This agrees with Lao Tzu's saying: (Cha.) IT IS ENOUGH TO CARRY A FULL VESSEL; DON'T TRY TO ADD TO IT AND MAKE IT TO OVERFLOW. TRYING TO SHARPEN A POINT ALREADY SHARP MAY MAKE IT HARD TO KEEP AN EDGE AT ALL.    Character is the essential thing in a ruler. Hereditary power is useless.—Chao Chien Tzû adopted Hsiang Tzŭ as his heir. Tung Ngo Yu objected on the grounds of Wu Hsü's (Hsiang Tzŭ) obscurity, holding he was not fit to be a successor. Chien Tzŭ replied, "that his character was such as to ensure success. He would bear indignity for the sake of the kingdom."    Some time after, Chih Pei when drinking with Hsiang Tzŭ slapped his face. A minister suggested he should be put to death for this, but Hsiang Tzŭ, the King, argued that the deceased Prince had adopted him because he could bear personal indignity for the throne. "Do you think," he said, "that he put me in this place to slay people?" After the passing of ten months Chih Pei invested Hsiang Tzŭ at Ching Yang. Hsiang Tzŭ divided his army and attacked him on either side and routing Chih Pei slew him and made his skull into a drinking vessel. This confirms Lao Tzŭ's saying: (Cha.) HE WHO IS CONSCIOUS OF HIS PROWESS BUT AT THE SAME TIME WHO MAINTAINS GENTLENESS AND PATIENCE, IS HE TO WHOM WILL FLOW ALL THE STREAMS OF EMPIRE.    The inspired man is the discerning man.—Yeh Ch‛üeh sought to know the Tao from Pei I. Pei I replied, "If you correct your deportment, and guard your eyes from wandering, the blessings of Heaven will come down on you. If you preserve your knowledge, and rectify your standards the Spirit will soon settle on your person: and virtue will abide with you. If you exercise the Tao it will make its abode with you. Unsophisticated as a new born calf, never asking the why or wherefore of its origin,"—but before he had finished this sentence, Yeh Ch‛ueh seemed to have lost interest in what Pei I was saying, so he got up and departed singing this ditty as he was going, "His form and limbs look withered and dried up: his mind looks dead like ashes. Truly I don't know how to deal with such a show of stupidity. I have no mind to talk to him. What kind of a man is he really?" This just confirms Lao Tzŭ's saying: "CAN HE WHO IS CLEAR ON EVERY MATTER BE WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE IN DISCERNMENT?"    The use of the mailed fist is not the way to maintain the fruits of victory.—Chao Hsiang Tzû attacked Ti and overpowered him and took his two prefectures of Yu Jen and Chung Jen. The messenger came to announce the victory and to offer congratulations, and when Hsiang Tzû was about to sup, it was noticed that he was of a sad countenance, which led them to say, "People find it a matter of joy to become possessors of two cities in a morning. So what may be the cause of the present sadness of the Prince?" Hsiang Tzû replied to them, "The floods of the two rivers last only three days at most. Storms of winds and rain pass over quickly. There is no accumulated merit in our Chao family; how is it that now, in one morning, two cities have fallen to me? Is not this ominous of disaster?" When Confucius heard of this, he said, "The good fortune of the family of Chao must increase. Dejection, or moderation of spirit, is the foundation of greatness, and hilarity is the root of decay. It isn't victory that is difficult, but the maintenance of the fruits of victory: this is the difficulty. The worthy kings of the past who maintained victory in this spirit, handed down their happiness to their successors. Ch‛i, Ts‛u, Wu, Yueh gained victories in their time, but eventually fell into decay, simply because they failed to apprehend how to maintain victory. This can only be done by making the Tao dominant." Confucius, for example, could manipulate the ponderous gate of the city, but never displayed his physical strength before man. It is said that Mei-tzû (who knew no art of war) maintained the defensive and offensive against Duke Yu P‛an and brought him to submission, but not by military force. They knew that the effective way of maintaining victory was by looking upon gentleness, right not might, as the strong power, just as Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    Not Might but Right.—Hui Meng had an interview with King Sung K‛ang. He wore his characteristic way of restless feet, of humming, and coughing, and speaking with rapidity, during the visit. The King said, "What I admire is the achievements of valour, humanity and justice. Have you, Sir, anything to instruct me?" Hui Meng replied, "Your servant has a Way according to which even the shafts of the valiant will do me no harm, neither can force, however cleverly used, succeed against me. Great Prince have you truly a mind to try it?" The King replied, "Very excellent! It's just what I want to hear about." Hui Meng continued, "But the shaft that will not penetrate me, the attack that will not succeed against me, do not seem, after all, the best. Your servant has still a superior way; such a way that a man with courage will not dare to use force against me: though possessing the power, he will not venture to use it against me. This lack of daring to thrust and attack will not be from want of will. Your servant has a way still higher than this even. This highest form will make men naturally lose the desire to stab and kill for the display of daring and courage. Still simple absence of the intention of using force does not produce a mind of love and care. So I have something still better than even this way, which will give unfailing delight to all men and women. This best way is of more worth than the valour of force: it is superior to these four other ways. Is the Great King the only one not desirous of it?" King Sung responded that he desired above all things to get this. Hui Meng replied. "This way is really no other than the doctrines of Confucius and Mei. Kung Ch‛iu and Mei Tsê were princes, though they had no territory: they were leaders, though without official status. None in the country, be they men or women, but craned their necks and stood on tip-toe that they might find and win the help of their doctrines. You are a great King, ruling a large empire: were you sincerely to have this ambition, every part of your kingdom would benefit; and so you would greatly excel Confucius and Mei.    King Sung having nothing to say in reply, Hui Meng departed. The King said to those about him, "What a talker! My guest overcame me thoroughly, when speaking." This way agrees with what Lao Tzu says: (Cha.) COURAGEOUS IN NOT USING FORCE IS THE WAY OF LIFE.    Whence we may gather that the greatest courage lies in not exercising the might that may be at one's command.    The King is the conning man.—In ancient times, Yao had nine assistants, Shun seven, and Wu Wang had five. Yao, Shun and Wu Wang were not experts in any one thing, like their assistants. They sat in their offices receiving the reports of successful operations. They were, however, masters in their estimate of the abilities of men. Now, a runner can never beat the great horse, Chi, in a race: but when this horse is hitched to a carriage, it is not able to beat a man. In the north is a beast, which goes by the name of Chüeh, with front quarters like a rat, and hind quarters like a hare. When it runs, it stumbles (as it has short forelegs and long hindlegs); it falls when it walks. This animal always picks out the fragrant grass for the Chiung Chiung Chü Hsü and supplies it with this grass (another animal with long forelegs and short hindlegs. It can't ascend hills). The Chiung Chiung, therefore, always carries the Chüeh on its back, because of the infirmity of its legs.    Here we have a case of one ability throwing its disability on another. This fits in with Lao Tzu's words: (Cha.) "THE INEXPERIENCED WHO WOULD DO THE WORK OF A MASTER-CARPENTER, STRANGE IT WOULD BE WERE HE NOT TO INJURE HIS HANDS."    Everything is easy to him who has the Law.—Po I counselled Prince Wei Ssu (the new king) on the art of government on civil and moral lines. The Prince said, "Mine is a small country, a country of only 1 ,000 chariots. I would apply your advice to such." Po I replied that Wu Hu, the lifter of 100 catties would think nothing of lifting one catty. This means that a small country can all the more easily carry on government on moral and civil methods.{11}    Tu Hê counselled Chou Chao Wen, the Prince, on how to pacify the empire.—After the disruption of Chou, Wen Chun asked advice of Tu Hê on the best way to settle the country, saying, "I would earnestly learn from you how to bring peace to Chou." Tu Hê replied. "If you cannot act on the words of your servant, there is no possibility of pacifying Chou. If you can put my words into practice, Chou will settle down of itself." This is the meaning of the saying: 'Don't fight for peace. Peace will come naturally.' The principle is expressed by Lao Tzû thus: (Cha.) "THE GREAT LAW MUST NOT BE CUT UP AND TAKEN IN DRIBLETS. TO TELL THE PARTS OF A CARRIAGE DOES NOT MAKE A CARRIAGE."    Be guided by big and generous ideas. Avoid a parsimonious spirit.—It was a law in Luh that, when any of their people were taken prisoners and made slaves by the Feudal Lords, their ransom should be paid out of the Treasury, should an opportunity offer itself to liberate them; Tzû Kung ransomed one such captive but declined the redemption money offered by the Treasury. Confucius told him: "Tzû, you have not done quite right. Whenever the sage takes any matter in hand (or acts), he supplies a principle that affects the conventions of life and the manners of society, with the result that the effects of the teaching would be handed down to succeeding generations. He never acts with a view to his own individual case. The kingdom, at the present time, has but few wealthy people; the majority are poor. To receive the cost of a ransom from the Public Treasury should not be looked on as avaricious: it would be impossible to redeem many under present conditions, if help from the Treasury were not accepted. Under such circumstances, no Luh prisoners in the hands of the Feudal Lords could be ransomed after this." This view of Confucius showed that he was profoundly versed in the true spirit of reform and proper principles of action, which is consonant with Lao Tzu's dictum: (Cha.) "PERCEPTION OF THE GERM IS ENLIGHTENMENT."    Militarism is baneful.—Wei Wu Hou enquired of Li K‛e12 the cause of the decay of the Wu nation. His reply was: "Wu often fought and often conquered," i.e., Wu was too often victorious in war. Wu Hou answered that frequent victories in war should lead to the greatness of a country, and he could not see how this could be the cause of decay. Li K‛ê replied, "Frequent wars exhaust the people: frequent victories make the masters drunk with pride. The more the pride, the more is the vitality of the people consumed in vainglorious wars. Few are the countries that can stand such a strain and not decay. Pride and arrogance lead to licence and anarchy, exhausting resources and people. Thus, there come hatred and dislike, leading to all sorts of schemes and devices (for amelioration of hardships). The strange thing is that Wu did not succumb much earlier." When it did fall, Fu Ch‛ai (the minister) committed suicide at Kan Sui. Lao Tzu's words give the principle: (Cha.) "TO WITHDRAW AFTER SUCCESS IS WON AND NAME ESTABLISHED IS A GOOD PRINCIPLE OF ACTION, AND IT IS THE LAW OF HEAVEN."    The Saviour of his Country.—Ning Yüeh13 desired an official post from Duke Huan of Ch‛i, but he had no means of getting an interview with him. In the meantime he followed the work of a merchant, and was on his way to Ch‛i, driving his cart loaded with goods. Resting one evening outside the city gate, Duke Huan came out to receive a guest for whom the gates were opened. The carts round the gate were ordered to move off. The lamps and lights were many and the retainers were numerous. Ning Yüeh saw his opportunity and, tapping the horns of his cow, sang a ditty in high clear notes. Duke Huan tapped the arm of his attendant, saying, "How strange! That singer can be no ordinary person. Let him come in the train of the carriages."14 When Duke Huan had returned home, his attendants waited his instructions regarding the guest. The Duke prepared court robes for him for an interview. Ning Yüeh talked about how to govern a country at the interview. Duke Huan was delighted and was about to offer him a post, when the entourage remonstrated that the guest was a man of Wei, and that Wei was not far away. The prince had better send a man to enquire about his past record and, if good, he could then be engaged." "Not so," replied the Duke, "if it be found that there are some minor defects against him, we shall lose the excellent services of a man for some slight error of his in the past. This is how governors lose the scholars of the country. You can always judge from what you hear: and, after hearing, there is no need of enquiries into the past. This man is quite agreeable to me. To get just the right men is a difficult matter. Men must be estimated at their best."    Duke Huan acted quite correctly in this matter. Thus Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "HEAVEN IS GREAT; EARTH IS GREAT; THE TAO IS GREAT; THE KING IS ALSO GREAT. WHEN THOSE FOUR GREATNESSES EXIST WITHIN THE BORDERS, THE KING SHARES ONE OF THEM."15    The man worthy to rule and be king.—Tan Fu ,16 the great ancestor, lived in Pin. Being attacked by the Tartars, he hid tribute of furs, cotton, silk fabrics, precious stones, which, being refused, made him say, "What the Tartars want is land: wealth and goods will not satisfy them." T‛ai Wang Tan Fu17 reasoned in this way: "To live with the people (elder brothers) and kill their brothers, to mingle with the fathers and slay their sons are acts I will not be a party to; so rest you here in peace. To serve the Tartars will not be different from serving me. Moreover I have heard it said, "Don't hurt the people for the sake of territory." So, taking his staff, he departed. The people clung to him, and they went forth and founded a kingdom near the Ch‛i mountain. The great ancestor Tan Fu may be accredited with knowing how to preserve his kind.    Though rich and honourable, he did not injure his person by his mode of life: though poor and lowly, he did not permit the love of gain to entangle his person. As it is now, there are those who would look upon it as a great calamity to lose the titles and emoluments of their ancestors; but they regard it as a light matter to mar the bodies handed down through long ages. Is this not a silly view of life? Listen to what Lao Tzu says: (Cha.) "THE EMPIRE CAN BE ENTRUSTED TO HIM WHO HONOURS HIS BODY FOR THE SAKE OF HIS COUNTRY. THE EMPIRE CAN BE COMMITTED TO HIM WHO LOVES HIS BODY FOR THE SAKE OF HIS COUNTRY."    Moral strength is gained by conquest of the desires. Loss of two worlds. True vision.—Kung Tzû Mu of Chung Shan, talking to Chan Tzû, said, "What is your opinion of the man whose thought and will are always occupied in guarding his inner life or personal nature?" Shan Tzû replied. "He has the best view of life. Thinking thus of life, he condemns the sway of passion."    Kung Tzû Mu said, "Though knowledge of the law may exist, what if there is failure to subdue the desires?" To which Chan Tzû replied, "Failure in self-conquest means submission to desire. Would you not grieve at acquiescence to the passions? On the other hand, inability to win self-conquest and a forced submission to the passions implies a double loss. Persons who experience this double suffering belong to a short-lived race." Lao Tzû speaks thus: (Cha, 32. ) "THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HARMONY IS CALLED THE CONSTANT LAW OR RULE OF LIFE. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONSTANT LAW GIVES TRUE INTELLIGENCE: THE WELL-BEING OF LIFE IS CALLED HAPPINESS. THE MIND, USING THE FORCES OF THE FLESH, IS CALLED ANIMAL STRENGTH. SO, BY USING THE LIGHT AND REVERTING TO THIS ENLIGHTENMENT, NO CALAMITY WILL THEN BE BEQUEATHED TO THE BODY."18    A mere knowledge of the art of government is insufficient for ruling.—Chuang Wang of Ts‛u consulted Chan Ho on how to govern a country. He replied, "I am versed in the government of the person, but not in the government of a country." Tz‛u Wang further said: "I have come into possession of the Penates and Lares19 and would like to learn how to preserve them." Chan Ho replied, "Your servant has never heard of any country being in disorder when the person of the ruler is well-governed: nor, on the other hand, have I ever heard that order can be had in a nation where the personal life of the ruler is disordered. So I place the whole responsibility (of government) on the person,—personal renovation. I would not venture to attribute it to the art of government itself." This is confirmed by what Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "THE PERSON WHO IS UNDERGOING TRAINING IN VIRTUE POSSESSES THE REAL VIRTUE."    There is no bloom in any stereotyped law of life.—Duke Huan was reading in his study, when a wheelwright, who was trimming wheels outside, leaving his adze and awl, came near and asked the Duke what he was reading. The Duke replied "The books of the Sages." The wheelwright asked where these men were now, to which the Duke responded that they were all dead. The wheelwright said: "These books are but the dregs and lees of the Sages." The Duke Huan was angered and said, as the colour mounted his cheeks: "Do you, a workman, venture to criticise my reading! If you can justify yourself, well: otherwise you will be put to death." The wheelwright replied, "Of course I can justify myself. Permit your servant to explain himself from his own work of wheelwright. If the wedges are driven in too fast, they will not enter (but break): if driven in too slowly, they will not be firm: neither too slow nor too fast is an art whereby the hand and will wholly act in concert, and in this way perfect workmanship is got. Your servant cannot transmit this expertness to his son, nor can the son get it from him, and so he is still working at wheels, though close on 70 years of age. It is so with the words of the sages; the real bloom of them died with their authors, and there is nothing but the empty lees and husks remaining."20 Lao Tzŭ's words supply the principle: (Cha.) "THE TAO THAT CAN BE EXPRESSED IN WORDS IS NOT THE UNCHANGING TAO; THE NAME THAT CAN BE NAMED IS NOT THE UNCHANGING NAME."    A wily old diplomat.—In ancient time Han Tzŭ, the city-engineer, being Prime Minister of Sung, spoke to the King, making the following suggestion: "The peace and unrest of a nation, the government and the anarchy of the people depend on the king's rewards and punishments. Rewarding with titles and the giving of largesse is what the people like. Let the King himself exercise this power. But the death penalty and punishment arouse the disgust of the people. Let your servant, therefore, discharge this function." The King of Sung replied, that it was a good suggestion, since he would get the praise and his minister bear the brunt of opprobrium, and he was sure that the Feudal Lords would not scorn him for this. Nevertheless, continued the King, when the people realized that the autocratic powers of death were in the hands of the minister, the officers would pay him respect and the people would fear him. In less than a year, Tzŭ Han overshadowed the king and usurped the power of government. Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.)    Tradition is no law of life.—Wang Shou carried his books and went to see Hsü Feng at Chou. Hsü Feng observed that things should respond to change and circumstance. Customs and practices change, and what does for the present may be useless for a later time. Books come from words, words come from knowledge, and knowledge changes. A library becomes dead stock and so useless. The knowing man knows this. On hearing this, Wang Shou burnt his books very joyfully. Thus Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "THOUGH IT IS POSSIBLE FOR WORDS TO EXPRESS THE THEME EXHAUSTIVELY, YET IT IS BETTER NOT TO GO INTO EVERY DETAIL."    Conserve and concentrate the mind.—Tzû Pei, Mayor of the Palace, invited Chwang Wang to a feast, which he accepted. Tzû Pei was wanting in courtesy; and so the king did not keep the appointment. One day the Mayor was standing in the courtyard and looking north (towards the King), Tzû Pei said, "Ancient kings kept their appointments; do you not really mean to go? I fear your servant has committed some fault." "I have been told," replied the King, "that you prepared a feast for me in the Ch‛iang T‛ai. This fairy edifice looks south on the Liao mountain, at the foot of which are the waters of Fang Huang. On the left is the Yangtse, on the right is the Hui river. The joy of such a scene would make one forget death itself. Such joy is not for such an imperfect man as myself. I would be afraid that I should never return, were I to go." As Lao Tzû says: "NOT TO LOOK ON WHAT STIRS THE DESIRES IS THE WAY TO KEEP THE MIND FROM WANDERING."    A discerning wife.—Chung Erh, the son of the Duke of Tsin, in the course of his wandering life happened to pass through Ts‛ao, the prince of which country showed him no courtesy. However, the wife of Hsi Fu Chi, a minister, said to her husband: "The prince is not very attentive to the son of the Duke of Tsin. I notice that all who accompany him are able men. When they return into power they are certain to come and attack Ts‛ao. Why don't you pay some attention to them?" Hsi Fu Chi, in consequence, presented them with a costly feast and sent a present of jade. Chung Erh took the food but declined the jade. After returning to his country, he organised an expedition against Ts‛ao and gained its submission. He commanded the three regiments not to enter the village of Hsi Fu Chi. We find this principle enunciated by Lao Tzu in the words: (Cha.)    Stoop to conquer.—K‛ou Chien, the King of Yüeh, failed to win in the war with Wu. He lost his country and fled. He was in distress at K‛uei Chi. His anger blazed; his courage rose like the gushing waters of a fountain. He had a mind to marshall his best troops and attack the enemy. But he thought discretion the better part of valour. Instead, he submitted to his enemy, and his wife became a serving maid. He personally carried the musket before the King, like a common soldier. Notwithstanding, he eventually took his master Wu a prisoner at Kan Sui. Thus we find Lao Tzû saying: (Cha.) "THE YIELDING SPIRIT WILL OVERCOME THE FIRM SPIRIT: THE GENTLE SPIRIT WILL TRIUMPH OVER THE AGGRESSIVE. THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD BUT KNOWS IT; YET NO ONE IS ABLE TO PUT IT INTO PRACTICE."    The King of Yüeh put it into practice himself and rose to be the autocrat of China.    Noblesse oblige.—Chao Chien Tzû died, and before his burial, the magistrate of Chung Mu transferred his allegiance to Ch‛i. Five days after the burial, Hsiang Tzû took his troops to the attack of Chung Mu: however, before his soldiers were even posted round the place, 100 feet of the wall fell down, whereupon Hsiang Tzû sounded the retreat and withdrew. The commanders remonstrated with the Prince, maintaining that Heaven itself showed its approval of their cause in punishing the crime of Chung Mu, in that it had caused the wall to crumble of itself before them, a sure indication that they should not retire. The prince replied in these words: "I have heard that Hsü Hsiang used to say: 'The Superior Man doesn't take advantage of an enemy's difficulty nor press him when he is in danger.' Let them mend their breech and we will renew the attack." The people of Mu, on hearing of this fine spirit, begged that they be received back and capitulated. This episode illustrates this saying of Lao Tzû: (Cha.) "YOU HAVE ONLY NOT TO STRIVE AND NO ONE IN THE EMPIRE WILL BE ABLE TO CONTEND WITH YOU."    Intuitive sagacity.—Duke Mu of Ts‛in spoke to the horse-expert, Pei Lu, asking him whether his son Tzû Hsing, seeing he was old himself, could buy him a good horse. His reply was that a good horse may be judged from its form, stand, muscles and bones: but a super-excellent horse was not to be judged by these outward points. In looking for such a horse, form should be lost sight of; the stand of the horse may be indecisive or need not be particularly good, the texture may be indifferent. A unique horse of this kind would not raise dust in galloping nor leave a trace of its steps behind it. My son's qualities are secondary. He may recognise a good horse, but not the unique one. I have an assistant, however, who helps me in feeding and grooming the horses, who is in no whit inferior to myself: his name is Chiu Fang Yin. Please interview him." The Duke commissioned this person to buy a horse. He returned in three months with the information that he had got a horse in Shan Ch‛iu. Duke Mu asked him what kind of a horse it was, and he replied that it was a stallion of yellow colour. Men were sent for it, and, when it came, it was found to be a black mare. The Duke called Pei Yoh and said what a mess the man whom he had recommended had made of things. He neither knew the colour of the hair, nor the quality of the animal: neither was he aware of whether it was a stallion or a mare. "What kind of a horse-fancier could such an individual be?" Pei Yoh breathed deeply and heaved a sigh saying: "Is it as bad as that! This man is a thousand times superior to me as a connoisseur of horses. What Yin sees in a horse is its natural endowments and not merely the outward accidents. In seeking its vitality, he doesn't think of the flesh and bone: he looks for the intrinsic merits, without regarding the extrinsic form. He searches for the essentials and has no eyes for the non-essentials. He looks for what he wants to see and pays no attention to what he doesn't want to see. Such points as he observes are above the mere form of the horse." When the horse was led in, it proved to be truly a horse of a thousand li. This illumines the saying of Lao Tzû: (Cha.) "THE LONG STRAIGHTNESS LOOKS AS THOUGH CROOKED: THE BIG CLEVERNESS AS THOUGH DULL."    The maxim that necessity knows no law is alien to the true art of government.—Wu Ch‛i filled the office of Prime Minister of Ts‛u. Going to Wei, he told Ch‛u I Jo that the King had overlooked his demerits and made him Prime Minister; so he asked Ch‛u to please give an opinion on his personal qualities as a man. Ch‛u Tzû asked, in turn, what his real aims were; to which Wu Ch‛i replied that his policy was to lower the power of the nobles, to equalize the scale of salaries, by lowering some and increasing the salaries of those who had too little, to make the armaments of the nation perfect and, by constant struggle, gain a dominant place for his country in the empire. Ch‛u Tzû responding said: "The ancients governed best by not making any changes in past methods and not altering the usual practices. But since you propose doing so, let me tell you it will not be good. I have also heard that enmity is an inversion of nature: the military is an obnoxious instrument, on which people depend in settling their quarrels. Strife is what men desire to eliminate. You now secretly plan this method of brute force, and delight in the use of this hurtful instrument. If you were to carry on those struggles, you would be acting most banefully. Further, when you employed the Luh troops against Ch‛i, you gained your purpose in spite of a bad cause: in like manner, you conquered Ts‛in in the face of all right. I have heard it said, If you keep from bringing disaster and miseries on men, you will keep yourself from your own ruin. By ruining others, you complete your own ruin. I firmly believe that our country's King has transgressed the laws of Heaven and wrecked human principles often; but no disaster has, hitherto, overtaken him, and it must be that you are the man to bring this on. Ah: wait and see!" Wu Ch‛i became alarmed and asked if there were a possibility of avoiding such a catastrophe. Ch‛u Tzû replied that as the catastrophe impending over all had already taken form ,22 it would be impossible to avert it. All that could be done was to alleviate any deleterious effects by generous love and sincere actions. As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "BLUNT THE EDGE OF YOUR DESIRES; SCATTER YOUR TENDENCY TO STRIFE; GET THE TRUE LIGHT OF THE TAO; MAKE YOURSELF ONE WITH THE COMMON MAN .21    Great is humility.—When Tsin was going to attack Ts‛u, and when the army was not more than 105 li away and still coming on, the ministers of Ts‛u asked authority to meet the enemy and strike him. King Chuang responded that Tsin did not attack Ts‛u, in the days of former Princes, so it must be that he was personally guilty of something to bring on such shame. All the ministers replied that Tsin did not attack Ts‛u during the regime of past ministers, so it must be owing to their fault that Tsin came to attack the country now. They begged for an order to meet the attack. The King weeping bitterly, the tears falling down his garments, rose up and made obeisance to all the ministers.    When the people of Ts‛in heard of this, they said, "King and ministers are vying the one with the other, each asking to bear the responsibility of our aggression, the King even doing homage to his ministers." So they said, "This expedition must not be made." The army returned. Just as Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    The character of a man worthy to be King.—In the time of Duke Ching of Sung, the planet Mars was in the heart constellation, which so alarmed the Duke that he called the astronomer Tzŭ Wei for consultation on the portent, who reported that the appearance of Mars signified a judgment of Heaven, since the heart constellation was the celestial arc that governed the territory of Sung .23 Further the Prince would have to bear the impending calamity: nevertheless it would be possible to shift this on to the shoulders of the Prime Minister. But the Duke objected to this since he carried the work of government and it would be unfortuitous for him to die. "In that case," Tzŭ Wei said: "It could be shifted on to the people." Again the Duke objected on the plea that if the people were to die, he would have no one over whom to rule, and it would be preferable for him alone to die. "Let it then be transferred on to the Seasons," said Tzŭ Wei. Once more the Duke expressed his unwillingness to this proposal, since the livelihood of the people depended on the Seasons; for, should the people experience a famine, they would die. "And were I," he continued, "to risk the life of the people to save my own, who would desire to have me as their King! My days are finished; so there's an end of it. Don't say anything more." Tzû Wei turned to the north, making his obeisance, said: "May I venture to congratulate your Majesty? Though Heaven is placed high, it yet hears those below. The Prince has given expression to the thought of a good man in his three objections. So Heaven will surely reward the Prince threefold. To-night this planet will move 21 li and the Duke will have 21 years' lease of life." In response to the question of what assurance there was of this, Tzŭ Wei replied: "The Prince spoke three times the words of a wise man and the star must remove the distance I indicated. May I ask you to come outside and see? If it doesn't deviate the distance mentioned, you may take my life." The Duke assented. That evening the star did move away 21 li. Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.) "HE WHO CAN TAKE ON HIMSELF THE ILL OMENS OF A NATION SHALL BE THE KING."    Room for all.—In olden times during the days of Chao, Kung Sung Lung said to his disciples, "I have no use for men without talent." A guest came along, wearing rough serge and a girdle of common hemp. He said, at an interview: "Your servant has the talent of being able to shout." Kung Sung looked him up and down and said to his disciples "Have we any criers?" They replied that they had none. So the King ordered this stranger to be entered on the register. A few days later, the disciples went to call on Yen Wang for consultation: on coming to a river, the ferry boat was found to be far away at the opposite bank. So the newly-enlisted crier was ordered to vociferate his loudest. The boat came, after he shouted once. It is written that the Sage does not readily overlook the service of any man with ability. Just as Lao Tzû expresses it: (Cha.) "THERE IS NO MAN QUITE USELESS; THERE IS NO ARTICLE THAT IS WORTHLESS; THE UNITY OF THESE DIVERSE THINGS MAKE UP THE SUM TOTAL OF LIFE."    Who should get the decoration?—Tzû Fa attacked and overcome Ts‛ai. The King Hsuan went out to meet him on his return, and gave him 100 acres of the best land for the purposes of sacrifices. But Tzû Fa refused this grant on the grounds that all government administration and tributes and the visits of the Feudal Lords were the result of the King's merits. The issue of commands, the distribution of orders and the dispersion of the enemy, even before the army was engaged in battle, were the result of the awe inspired by the chief commander. The victory of the army in battle was the result of the people's effort. To take advantage of these successes, in order to increase personal emoluments and honours, would be neither humane nor just. Hence I refuse." This episode shows what Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "HE HAS ACHIEVED SUCCESS BUT DOES NOT THINK OF IT: THE VERY FACT OF NOT DWELLING ON IT ENSURES THAT THE RENOWN SHALL ABIDE WITH HIM."    A contract is more than a scrap of paper.—Duke Wen of Tsin, in going to attack the Yuan State, assured his ministers that the enemy would submit in three days, and he converted them to his enterprise by this hope. But when the three days had passed without the capitulation, Duke Wen withdrew his troops. An officer said the place would capitulate in a day or two, therefore let them hold on. The Prince replied that he was fully convinced that Yuan could be taken in three days, when he made the promise: but as he failed to capture it within the prescribed time he had given to his ministers, he had, therefore, broken faith with them by such a promise of taking Yuan: so he would not take it. When the people of Yuan heard this they said: "Having such a Prince, can we refrain from surrendering?" Which they did forthwith. The people of Wen, hearing these things, also begged to be received. Thus Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "HOW DEEP AND ABSTRUSE! WITHIN THE TAO THERE IS THE ESSENCE; THE ESSENCE IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE; IN ITS VERY CENTRE REPOSE SINCERITY AND GOOD FAITH."    First things first.—When Duke Kung I became Premier of Luh, the whole country brought him presents of fish, knowing that he was fond of it; but he refused to accept it. His pupils remonstrated with him and wanted to know why he refused every gift of fish, seeing he was so fond of it? He gave as his reason that he declined the presents for the very reason that he was fond of it. Were he to accept such, he said, it would involve his vacating the post of minister; though he liked fish, yet he could not afford to buy it himself (out of office). But his refusal to accept any presents of fish did away with the necessity of retiring from office, and thus he could afford to supply himself with fish always. Thus he was clear on altruism and egoism. Just as Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    Another saying of his is: "SATISFIED WITH WHAT ONE HAS WILL PRECLUDE THE OCCASION OF SHAME."    An elderly man of Hu Ch‛iu said to Sun Hsü Ao, "People have three kinds of hatreds. Do you know them?" Well they are: "The scholars envy a high noble; the king dislikes a great officer; and all dislike those with big salaries." Sun Hsü Ao replied, "The greater my nobility, the less is my aim: the higher my post, the lowlier my heart: the higher my salary the more I distribute. May I escape these three hatreds, do you think? As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    The man who acted as smith for Ta Ssû-ma was still beating buckles at 70 years of age without ever making a mistake in shaping even the finest edge. The minister said to him: "Is it skill or is there some secret about it that you can work thus?" The smith replied: "It is practice and attention. When your servant was twenty years old, I liked to beat buckles, and paid no attention to anything else. I never examined an article that wasn't a buckle." Therefore in the use of this skin, it came to be second nature to him, and by this concentrated practice he became perfect. How much more may it be said of that which is in constant use!    This unconscious habit is even more than Wu-wei, Lao Tzu says: (Cha.) "TO ACT ACCORDING TO THE TAO IS THE WAY THAT MAKES A PERSON ONE WITH THE TAO ITSELF."    Bear present indignity and wait for empire.—Wen Wang sharpened his virtues and cultivated his government, so that, in three years, two-thirds of the country owned him allegiance. Chou, the emperor, was troubled when he heard it, and said: "I really can't rise early and retire late and mend my ways and cultivate virtue, belabouring my mind and wearing my body with heavy toils! But if I don't do it and let him go and think no more about him, I fear he would attack me." Ts‛un Hou Hu said to him; "Chou Pei Ch‛ang24 i.e. Wen Wang, is a person of benevolence and justice and of good judgement. His eldest son, Fa, is a man of courage and determination. His second son, Tan, is a person of pious and frugal habits and possesses the gift of reading the drift of the times. But should you try to follow his example, you cannot escape the danger of such a course; if you take no notice of him and let him go free, you are bound to come to a bad end. Even an ugly cap must be worn on the head. So I counsel you to check him before his schemes are matured." Thereupon Ch‛u Shang held Wen Wang captive in Yu Li. Whereupon San I Sheng, having a thousand ingots of silver, sought for the most curious and precious stones in the empire. He obtained a tandem of the tiger-marked horses, 300 pieces of black jade, 500 cowries, the dusky leopard, the yellow p‛i, (bear) the blue kan (wild dog), and 2,000 pieces of the white tiger with the striped skin. Having collected these, he presented them to Chou by means of an intermediary, the minister Fei Chung. When Chou saw the gifts, he was delighted with them and liberated Wen Wang, killing an ox and offering it to him as a parting gift. On his return home, Wen Wang simulated an infatuation for building doors inlaid with jade and lofty towers, played with girls and spent his time dilly-dallying with drums and music; but really he was waiting his chance to fall on Chou. When Chou heard of these infatuations, it made him say: "Chou Pei Ch‛ang has changed his way and altered his course of life. There will be no more disquiet for me." Chou, however, did not mend his ways, but cast the iron man ,25 he took out the heart of Pei Kan, and ripped out the embryo of a pregnant woman and slew the minister who remonstrated with him. Wen Wang at length arose at these enormities and put his plans into execution. Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "CONSCIOUS OF GLORY, YET BEARING PRESENT SHAME, SUCH A MAN IS AS A VALLEY TO WHICH ALL THE CURRENTS OF EMPIRE SHALL CONVERGE."    Kings should stand in awe of the people.—Ch‛eng Wang sought advice from Yen I on political matters, desiring to know how he should act so that the authorities could gain the affection of the people. Yen I replied in these words: "Employ them at suitable seasons:26 be mindful of their interests: respect their feelings." In response the king wanted to know, further, how these things were to be done. Yen replied, "Act with circumspection as though you were approaching a deep pool or treading on thin ice." In turn, the king said, "Fearful for kings then." Yen said, "Within the whole empire, if the king acts well, the people recognise him as their pastor: if he acts ill, they look on him as an enemy. The servants of Hsia and Shang became the enemies of the kings, Chieh and Chou, and transferred their allegiance to Tang and Wu. The people of Hsü Hsia attacked their ruler and allied themselves to Shen Nung .27 All the world knows these things. Kings should stand in awe." The principle is given by Lao Tzû in these words: (Cha.)    The principles of the Sages should be abolished, as they are the maxims of robbers.—The followers of Chê, when asking their chief if thieves had any principles, received the reply that it was not possible for them to be without such. The person who could guess where the treasure was stored, was a superior man: the first to enter was the man of courage: the last to leave, was the hero. In the average division of spoils there was an element of justice. The member of the gang who knew when to act was the man of knowledge. Where one of these five factors was lacking no great act of plunder could be successful. Nothing in the world could be done without these principles. From this it may be inferred that the mind of the brigand must needs borrow the teaching of the sages for carrying on his trade. Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.) "ABOLISH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SAGES, ABANDON SAGACITY, AND THE WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE WILL BE INCREASED A HUNDREDFOLD."    Use for the rough diamonds of Society.—General Tzŭ Fa of Ts‛u liked to look out for men of skill. He encouraged everyone who showed any talent. Now there was a clever thief in Ts‛u who heard of this, so he went to see the general, saying that he had heard he was on the look out for men of skill; that his was in thieving, and as he would like to try his skill, he offered himself as a soldier. Hearing this, the general was in such haste to see him that he could hardly wait to put on his hat and robes to receive him civilly. His attendants tried to dissuade him from showing any civility to a thief. The general replied that this was no business of theirs.    Not long after, Ch‛i marshalled its troops to attack Ts‛u. Tzŭ Fa, the commander of the Ts‛u army, was pressed and had to withdraw his forces three times. The best leaders of Ts‛u had exhausted their plans and used every device, but the army of Ch‛i still advanced and was stronger than ever. Just then the quondam thief begged permission of the general to use his little talent. Tzŭ Fa consented, and without asking any particulars, sent him off. So the thief entered the camp of the Ch‛i commander and stole the curtain of his bed, as he was sleeping, and brought it to his general. The general thereupon sent it back by a messenger with the words that one of his soldiers found the commander's curtains, when gathering fire sticks: so he was returning it to the man in charge, by a messenger. The next day, the thief soldier stole the pillow of the commander, as he was sleeping. This again Tzŭ Fa returned in the same way. The next day he went and abstracted the commander's hair-fastening. Tzŭ Fa once more returned the article. When the soldiers became aware of this, they were greatly alarmed, and the commander held a consultation with his officers maintaining that if they didn't immediately return home, it was not impossible that the King of Ts‛u would get the commander's head next! He then withdrew the troops and departed. This is, as the common saying has it, no gift is too little, no ability too slight for the king to use. Just as Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.) "THE ROUGH DIAMONDS OF SOCIETY ARE THE MATERIALS FOR THE USE OF THE GOOD MAN."    The true culture of the Tao and life.—Yen Hui told Chung Ni (Confucius) "I have made progress." "How so?" asked Chung Ni. He replied "Hui28 can forego Etiquette and Music." Confucius said: "Good, but your progress is not yet complete." Another day, Yen Hui saw Confucius and said: "Hui has made progress." "In what way? asked Confucius. "I have dispensed with Jen and I, Benevolence and Justice" answered Hui. Confucius said "Very good, there is yet room to advance." Yet another day, on seeing him again, Hui said, "I can sit without being conscious of my body. I have reached the abstraction of the Tao." Confucius suddenly asked, "What do you mean by sitting in a state of abstraction?" Yen Hui replied: "Lose all sense of the physical body: I can be detached from sentiency, and be oblivious of this outward form and abandon knowledge: thus situated I penetrate within the spiritual flux: passivity is what I mean by sitting in a state of insensibility." Chung Ni replied, "Penetration into these implies a state without shan, goodness, virtue: the state of spiritual passivitity or flux implies a state without the constant principles and maxims of the Sages. You have entered sainthood before me. I must beg to follow after you." Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.) CLOTHED WITH ANIMAL SPIRIT AND SOUL EMBRACING THE UNITY AND ABIDING THERE, WITHOUT INTERRUPTION, THE UNDIVIDED VITAL BREATH IN A STATE OF YIELDINGNESS, SIMILAR TO AN INFANT CHILD, THIS IS WHAT IT IS TO BE BATHED IN THE TAO.    A false move.—Duke Mu of Ts‛u mobilised his troops for a surprise attack on Cheng. Ch‛ien Hsü disagreed with the proposal, on the grounds that for a surprise attack to be successful, the chariots must not be over 100 li away, and the infantry not over 30 li from the objective; that the plans must be secret and not divulged; the soldiers' keenness must not have lost its edge (as it would, after long marches); the commissariat must not be depleted: the people must not be exhausted; but all, by uniting their keen spirit and abounding strength in the objective, attack the enemy, and overawe him. "But in the case before us," he said, "the distance is several thousand li: the territories of several Feudal Princes must be crossed to make this surprise attack. Your servant wonders whether the King would not reconsider the plan." But Duke Mu refusing the advice, Ch‛ien Hsu in sending forth the troops wore mourning hemp garments, and wept.    The army on its march had to pass through Chou and was met on the east of it by a trader from Cheng Hsuan, Kao by name, who had come, inspired by the command of the Baron of Cheng, to welcome the weary troops of Ts‛in by an offering of 12 oxen. The three commanders were alarmed, and deliberated, saying they had marched several thousand li to a surprise attack on a people, but before they had reached their objective, people were aware of their purpose and so were prepared: the surprise therefore would be impossible. The troops were withdrawn and departed.    Just then Duke Wen of Tsin fell sick and died; but before the burial had taken place, Hsien Chen spoke to the young king, Hsiang Kung, saying: "My former Prince, in days gone by, was friendly with Duke Mu, as is well known to everybody, and none of the Feudal Lords but was aware of it. But here we find that, even ere our dead King is buried, he (Mu) does not offer his condolences nor ask permission to pass over our territory. This is because he sees our King is dead and despises our new King. I beg for authority to attack him." This being granted, Hsien Chen called up the army and, meeting the forces of Ts‛in at Yao, routed them. He captured their three commanders and led them captive. On hearing these tidings, Duke Mu put on sack-cloth and wailed in the temple, as he related the events to the people. Lao Tzu says: (Cha.) "TO HAVE KNOWLEDGE AND YET APPEAR NOT TO KNOW, IS THE HIGHEST ATTAINMENT. TO HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE AND YET GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF KNOWING, IS CHICANERY."29    In the choice of a wife, don't be led away by the senses.—After the death of the queen of Ch‛i, the King desired to choose a queen-consort from the concubines. The matter still pending, he took counsel with the ministerial body. Duke Hsueh, wishing to fall in with the purpose of the King, sent a present of ten ear-rings of which one pair was most beautiful. One morning, later, he enquired of the servitors which of the maids had the beautiful pair and advised the king to make her his consort. (He thus wished to curry favour with the king and the new queen). The king of Ch‛i was most delighted and heaped honours on Duke Hsueh. Thus when the master's desires are revealed to the servant, a handle is given the servant to control the master. Just as Lao Tzu says: (Cha.) "PLUG UP THE AVENUE OF THE SENSES; CLOSE UP THE DOOR OF THE DESIRES. THIS WILL STOP THE CARES OF LIFE."    Another case of Newton and the sands.—Lu Ao ,30 a man haughty and proud, went touring towards the North Sea to find an arhat. Having crossed through to the limit of the North, he entered the Hsuan Ch‛üeh mountain and arrived at the top of the Meng Ku range. Here he met with a scholar-like person whose eyes were deep set, his temples were covered with jet black hair, tears stood in his eyes: he had the shoulders of a kite; his head was generous above and receding below. He seemed full of merriment, as he danced in the breezes. He looked at Lu Ao and appeared ill-pleased to see him there: the arms, that were swaying in his gyrations, he let fall and slipped behind a stone column. Lu Ao came forward and looked at him, just as he was seated on a tortoise shell and swallowing oysters. Lu Ao addressed him thus: "I thought I was the only individual who had turned his back on kith and kin to get a thorough observation of the uttermost parts of the world. As a young man I was fond of travel, nor have I changed my habits in old age; so having traversed the four quarters of the earth, I still had the extreme north unvisited. To-day I find you, Sir, here! May it not be possible that we may be friends?" The scholar-like man smilingly replied: "Hsi! you are from China and have chosen to come to this distant spot. But you musn't think this is very far. Here there are still the sun and moon, the stars, too, are hung out here. Here the Yin and Yang still operate, and the four seasons come and go. These parts compared with the unnameable places are still circumscribed. But where I roam to the south there is the boundless waste; to the north I stop in the profound gloom; to the west there is an illimitable vista; on the east I go beyond the orient. In these distant regions there is no firmament above nor earth below: there is no sound to be heard nor vista on which to gaze; still further on, there is only the sound as of rolling waters. Thither it is I have not been able to reach. Now Sir, having reached this place to which you have voyaged for the first time, you musn't think you have reached the end of the world: as a matter of fact you are far from that. Rest here, Sir: I must go to Han Man .31 beyond the range of the nine Heavens. I musn't abide here long." This strange man then lifted his arms and pulling together his body, forthwith disappeared in the clouds. Lu Ao, looking after him, saw him not. He stopped his chariot. Feeling annoyed with himself and with the turn things had taken, he said: "Compared with that person I am no more than a yellow heron or a worthless worm of the earth; I can only crawl a few feet in a whole day, whereas he has already sped a long way. Isn't it grievous!" Thus Chuang Tzu says: "THE CREATURES OF A SHORT YEAR ARE INFERIOR TO THOSE OF A LONG YEAR. A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS INFERIOR TO GREAT KNOWLEDGE. THE MOTH THAT SEES THE MORNING LIGHT, DIES BEFORE A MON'TH COMES ROUND. THE CICADA KNOWS NEITHER AN AUTUMN NOR SPRING."    These words show clearly that there are many things we can never know .32    Let the King cultivate a conscience in the people.—Ch‛i Tzŭ ruled Shan Fu for three years. Wu Ma-ch‛i, making himself incognito, went about to see the effect of his administration. Seeing a fisherman throw back into the stream a fish he had taken, he asked the reason why he did so, telling him that fishermen as a rule kept the fish they had taken. What was the reason for his not doing so? The fisherman replied that Ch‛i Tzŭ didn't wish people to capture small fishes. That was the reason. Wu returned to Confucius and told him this, remarking that Ch‛i Tzŭ's virtue was perfect, in that he had induced men to act in their privacy as though a monitor stood by their side with the warning and admonitions of severe punishment. How could he have attained to this degree of excellence? Confucius replied: "I have seen the statement that in government sincerity in one thing will also appear in other things. Ch‛i Tzŭ has exercised this art in his administration." Lao Tzû puts it in this way: (Cha.) "EJECT THIS TO ACCEPT THAT, i.e. SUPPRESS THE PASSIONS AND FOLLOW THE TAO."    Follow the Spirit and cultivate the habit of Wu-wei.—The Spirit of the water said to Shadow: "Is Luminosity a spirit?" The Shadow replied, "Nay". The Spirit of the water said, "How do you know?" Shadow replied, "The light passes Fu Sang ,33 the orient, and daily illumines the Universe. The brilliancy of the light, tinging the four seas and the world, has no means of entering the closed door and the stopped-up window, but spirit penetrates everywhere and floods everything. Above, it spreads to the very borders and limits of heaven, below it covers the earth, nourishing all creation. An image cannot be made of it. Up and down, even to the extremities of the world and beyond, the Spirit's energies operate. Luminosity cannot be such as spirit." As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "THE MOST YIELDING THING IN THE WORLD INTERPENETRATES THE FIRMEST."    Brilliancy{34} asked Non-Being, "Have you really an existence or are you really non-existent?" Non-Being made no reply to this .35 Not able to see any objective form which he could address, he kept gazing on Non-Being's appearance, dim and vague. He gazed, but saw no manifest form; he listened, but discerned no sound; he clutched at it, but failed to grasp anything; he viewed it, but could not fathom it. Brilliancy exclaimed. "Wonderful! Who can attain to this? I can be the Invisible Spirit, but I cannot differentiate his qualities; I can get to be nothing, but I cannot attain to the elimination of nothing itself."36 As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "SINCE THE NON-BEING ENTERS INTO THE NON-SPATIAL, I KNOW THEREFORE THAT WU-WEI IS PROFITABLE."    The Supremacy of the Spirit.—Pei Kung Sheng37 meditated a revolution. After the end of an audience, he stood leaning on his lance; the point pricked his jaw and the blood flowed, but without his being conscious of it. When the people of Cheng heard of it, they said: "If he is unconscious of this, what will he not be unconscious of!" This shows that when the spirit follows ideas beyond the physical frame and the mind is flooded with thoughts and designs, there is no attention paid to wounds nearer home. Hence, when the mind is occupied with distant objects, things nearer the body are foregotten. Just as Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "BY NOT GOING OUT OF YOUR DOOR YOU MAY LEARN OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE COUNTRY. WITHOUT LOOKING OUT OF YOUR WINDOW, THE HEAVENLY DOCTRINE CAN BE KNOWN. THE FARTHER YOU TRAVEL IN YOUR RESEARCHES THE LESS YOU KNOW."    The saying is illustrated by the foregoing historical episode.    Forts are not the best guardians of a frontier.—The emperor Ts‛in ,38 anxious about maintaining the empire he had won, assigned guardposts on the frontiers, built the Great Wall, organized likin stations and bridges, erected fortifications, prepared express services and appointed frontier officials. Nevertheless Liu Pang captured the empire most easily .39    When Wu Wang punished Chou and broke his power at Mu Yeh, he nevertheless sealed up the grave of Pi Kan (Chou's founder): he exhibited notices of immunity and protection over the shops of the merchants; he placed a guard at the door of Ch‛i Tzu .40 He offered his respects at the temple of Ch‛eng Ch‛iao; he distributed the grain at Chu Ch‛iao; he disbursed the money-hoards at Lu T‛ai; he broke his war drum and war staff; he unbent his bows and broke their strings; he abandoned his palace and lived in the suburbs to show the settlement of peace and the change of regime. He laid by the sword and adopted the ivory tablet ,41 to show that all enmity had been laid aside. Whereupon the whole empire became jubilant and praised him. The Feudal Lords brought their tributes (silk) and paid court for 34 generations, without a break. As Lao Tzŭ says: (Cha.) "HE WHO CLOSES WELL, THOUGH WITHOUT BAR AND BOLT, YET IT CANNOT BE OPENED. HE WHO BINDS WELL, THOUGH WITHOUT ROPE AND CORD, YET IT CANNOT BE UNTIED."    The mental condition that will lead to mastery.—Yin Hsü tried to learn driving, for three years, without success. He was extremely troubled and thought hard on the matter. One night, in a dream, Ch‛iu Chia (the great charioteer) appeared as his teacher. Going to call, the following day, on his usual instructor, he was greeted with the remark, "It isn't that I dislike instructing you; I fear it is that you are incapable of instruction. To-day I am going to tell you the art of Ch‛iu Chia (I can't do more)." Yin Hsü turned to go, but did the usual courtesy saying: "Your pupil has met with great good fortune. I truly received his instruction in a dream last night." This is what Lao Tzü says: (Cha.) "WHEN THE MIND IS CONVINCED OF THE UNREALITY OF VISIBLE THINGS AND HOLDS STEADFASTLY TO THIS UNDISTUBED STATE, THOUGH THE WHOLE CREATION IS SPREAD OUT BEFORE THE EYES, I LOOK TO THE MIND."42    Superior Men.—Formerly Sun Hsü Ao thrice gained the post of Prime Minister without showing any special gratification. He also vacated the office thrice without any compunction or manifestation of chagrin. Chi Tzû of Yen Ling was pressed by the Wu people to become their King, but refused the honour.    Hsü Yu declined the throne and refused to accept it.    An Tzû made an oath to Ts‛ui Shu that he would not change his loyalty to the old house, though he were to suffer death for it.    All these loyal men had a vision of something beyond the present. Their spirits were indifferent to life and death, and so they were not to be beguiled by any material conditions or worldly goods.    The spirit of Self-sacrifice.—The Ching nation had a man named Tz‛u Fei, who gained an excalibur in the army of the Kan country. On returning from the war, he had to cross a river. When midway, a violent storm was raised by Yang Hou, the spirit of the water, and two scaly dragons clutched the sides of the boat. Tz‛u Fei asked the ferrymen whether they had ever survived another such storm. They replied it was most unusual. So Tz‛u Fei with wide-open eyes, rolling up his sleeves and drawing out his sword exclaimed: "A soldier may be persuaded by the courteous way of kindness and justice, but he refuses to submit to intimidation. You rotten and despicable creatures of the river! I wouldn't grieve if I lost my precious sword in attacking you!" So, jumping into the river, he slashed at the dragons and cut off their heads. All the passengers were saved, and the wind and waves died away. Tz‛u Fei was made a Baron of Ching, with territory. Confucius, hearing of it, remarked, "Tz‛u Fei did well in drawing his sword at the hideous monsters of the river." Thus Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "HE WHO ACTS, REGARDLESS OF LIFE, IS WORTHIER THAN THE MAN WHO PUTS LIFE BEFORE ALL."    The man of fickle purpose is unfit to be a leader.—Shun Yu K‛un of Ch‛i counselled King Wu to adopt the principle of Federation. The King accepted the advice and gave him ten fine chariots to go to Ching. When about to depart, his men held that federation was not good enough; so he offered the King the further advice of Imperialism .43 Just as he was departing with this alternative idea, the King stopped him, as he had lost confidence in a man who had as suddenly abandoned the purpose of federation, holding such a person incompetent to work out the principle of imperialism, as he was unstable. Words should be based on conviction, and business should be carried forward on fundamental principles. When these are both lost, devices, though many, are useless. This is the significance of the figure biting his finger cast on the Chou tripod .44 It showed the mind of the ancient kings how they did not care to use forced cleverness. Hence Sheng Tzû says, "A carpenter knows how to make a door. If he only made one to open and not to shut, he would not know the intention and raison d'être of a door."    Personality must not be hampered.—Tien Chiu of the sect of Mei Tzû followed the master's method. Desiring to see King Hui of Ch‛ing, he hung up the reins of his fine carriage, vainly waiting audience. He remained a whole year at the court without getting an interview. Some one advised him to go and see the King of Ts‛u. This king received him gladly and gave him credentials to go as minister to Ch‛ing. On arriving, King Hui finding that he was duly accredited with a general's commission, received him willingly and gave him an audience. In leaving the palace, he sighed deeply, saying to those around him: "I stayed for three years at Ch‛ing without an audience; never did I imagine I could get one viâ Ts‛u." In business matters it may be said: "The near is distant, and the distant is near." Hence the ways of the great man may not be gauged by any routine formula. He arrives at his object in his own way, and that is all about it, as Kuan Tzu remarks: "An owl will not get to its destination if its wings are tied."    The great depths of the Feng waters do not keep any dust and debris on the surface. Throw a needle in and it is quite visible at the bottom. It isn't the depth, but clearness that matters. Neither fish, turtle, dragon, nor snake care to appear within. For the same reason cereals will not grow on a stone, nor do deer and stags roam on the bare hills, since there is no cover to give them hiding.    Generosity of spirit.—Once on a time, Chao Wen Tzû asked Shu Hsiang45 which of the six generals of Tsin would die first. He replied that it would be Chih of the centre army: "because," he said, "this man in administering, carried on his examination with harshness; he informed himself of vexatious details; he regarded loyalty to consist in being stingy to his underlings and reckoned that merit lay in gaining many good marks from the government. Such a person may be likened to one stretching leather. Pull it, and it can be made larger. Nevertheless, this is the way to tear it. Lao Tzû says: "HE WHO ADMINISTERS IN A GENEROUS SPIRIT WILL HAVE A SINCERE AND SIMPLE PEOPLE: HE WHO IS PETTYFOGGING AND VEXATIOUS WILL HAVE A PEOPLE IN POVERTY."    Strict justice and loyalty.—The Duke of Ching asked T‛ai P‛u what was the effect of his teaching? And the reply was: "It can shake the Earth." An Tzû, the Prime Minister, went to interview the duke, and the duke said to him, "T‛ai P‛u told me his ability could shake the Earth. Now how can he shake the Earth?" An Tzû was silent and made no reply. He went out and spoke to T‛ai P‛u saying, "I saw formerly the planet Kou in the region of Fang Hsin (###). Did it shake the earth?" T‛ai P‛u replied, "Naturally it did." An Tzû withdrew and T‛ai P‛u went to the Duke, saying he didn't mean to say that he could shake earth, but that the earth was about to shake from natural causes. Tien Tzû Yang, hearing this, said, "The perplexing silence of An Tzû arose from his desire to shield T‛ai P‛u from death." His interview with T‛ai P‛u showed his desire to know the truth, fearing lest the king should have deceived him in what he had said. It may be truly said that An Tzû acted loyally to his superior and graciously towards those under him. As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "SQUARE IN CONDUCT WITHOUT DEFECTS, TO BE JUSTLY STRICT WITHOUT INJURING, STERN IN DUTY WITHOUT IN JUSTICE."    A mistaken judgement.—Viscount Wei Wen, at a feast he gave to his ministers at Yang Ch‛ü (Tai Yuan), being somewhat under the influence of liquor, sighed deeply, as he said: "I alone have no minister like to Yu Jang." For loyalty Ch‛un Chung poured out a large cupful of liquor and held it up to the king saying: "May it please you to drink up this 'as a fine.'" "Why so," replied the king. "Your servant has heard it said, that the carrying out of the requests of parents is not thought of as filial piety. A just prince does not think of the loyalty of ministers who carry out their duties." Now what kind of man was Yu Jang's king? He was a defeated prince. Viscount Wen drank the cup at one gulp, saying: "The deed of Yu Jang arose from the lack of loyal ministers of the type of Kuan Chung and Pao Hsü." Loyalty is seen in times of anarchy. Hence Lao Tzû says: (Cha.)    Do not be puffed up by knowledge.—When Confucius was viewing the fane of Duke Huan, in which was a vessel called Yu Chih,{46}—or the leaning tube,—he exclaimed: "How splendid that we have seen this vessel!" Turning to his disciples, he said, "Boys, bring some water." When the vessel was half filled, it stood upright; but when the water reached the brim, the centre of gravity was shifted and the vessel overturned. Suddenly Confucius changed countenance saying, "Perfect is the lesson of holding the full vessel!" Tzû Kung, standing at his side, said, "Please tell us more of this holding of a full vessel." "Superfluity brings its penalty. There is danger in superabundance," said Confucius. "What do you mean by this?" "When a thing has reached luxuriance, decay has also set in. Mirth is followed by melancholy; the sun goes down after its zenith; a full moon wanes."    Hence quick intelligence and a rich wisdom should be preserved by simplicity, encyclopaedic information and wide attainments by lowliness, martial strength and bold courage by awe, great wealth and position by economy, universal beneficence by reserve and modesty. It was by observing these five qualities that the empire was preserved. History affirms that the spirit of these five principles could not be contravened with impunity. As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) "THEY WHO ADHERE TO THIS DOCTRINE HAVE NO DESIRE FOR EXUBERANCE. ONLY BY NOT BEING OVERFLOWING, ONE IS ABLE TO (LIVE) QUIETLY AND NOT TO HAVE NOTORIETY AND THUS BE ABLE TO KEEP A STATE OF MODESTY WITHOUT OUTWARD OSTENTATION."    A criticism of current methods of government which were based on opportunism and therefore a great contrast to true government based on the Tao.—Wu Wang enquired of T‛ai Kung an opinion on his action in punishing Chou, whether the world would not look on it as the murder of a master by his servant, and whether his fears were groundless that the example might be followed by later ages, giving rise to constant employment of troops and the perpetuation of strifes. T‛ai Kung replied that the king's question was most excellent, saying, in illustration, that sportsmen were anxious lest the hit was too slight before they had the prey: but, once they had the bag, the fear was lest the flesh had been torn too much. Did the king therefore desire to hold the nation securely for long, he should shut up the avenue of the senses, i.e. the eye, ear, nose, mouth of the people.    The Tao was useless for the people and education but an evil .47 When the people are all pleased with their occupations and their desires all gratified, the cap of the general may be changed for that of the scholar. Let the sword be sheathed and the ivory displayed. Let the people be made to be in mourning for three years so that the population be diminished. Let the high refuse office and the masses yield their rights, and so keep them from strifes and struggles. Let them rejoice in social feasts and be amused with music and orchestras: let them be awed by religion: multiply etiquettes and swell ceremonies in profusion, so that simplicity of nature may be buried in these artificialities: let burials be costly and mourning be protracted, in order to weaken the family power. Let them spend freely on pearls and ornaments: on silk tassels elaborately worked, so that they may be impoverished. Let them dig deep trenches and build high walls to exhaust their energies. Impoverished in family wealth, diminished in population, their whole attention will be concerned with their poverties. Let social reforms move on these lines and it will be possible to keep the country without the fear of loss. As Lao Tzû says: (Cha.) WHEN DESIRES RE-ENTER THE HEART, THEY SHOULD BE SUPPRESSED BY THE UNADORNED SUBSTANCE OF THE NAMELESS TAO. Next                              

read all comments

1 Cary W = "Just believing in spiritual or universal law is enough to make one move through life with prudence, awareness and self control."
2 Cary W = "All good things indeed do flow to any one who walks gently, but with a whole heart, after the inspiration.  When clear, we don't think, we just do!"
3 Cary W = "Truth need never be asserted or flaunted; it speaks from the silence of its conviction."
4 Cary W = "Rest in peace.  Ride home in glory.  Share the insights, wisdom and love born of overcoming great obstacles."