Texts of Taoism
Chuang Tzu

Introductory Notes


This Book is named from the first three characters in it, the surname and name of Hsü Wû-kwei, who plays the most important part in the first two paragraphs, and does not further appear. He comes before us as a well-known recluse of Wei, who visits the court to offer his counsels to the marquis of the state. But whether there ever was such a man, or whether he was only a creation of Kwang-dze, we cannot, so far as I know, tell.

Scattered throughout the Book are the lessons so common with our author against sagehood and knowledge, and on the quality of doing nothing and thereby securing the doing of everything. The concluding chapter is one of the finest descriptions in the whole Work of the Tâo and of the Tâoistic idea of Heaven. 'There are in the Book,' says Lû Fang, 'many dark and mysterious expressions. It is not to be read hastily; but the more it is studied, the more flavour will there be found in it.'

Part III Section II

Hsü Wû-kwei1.

1. Hsü Wû-kwei having obtained through Nü Shang2 an introduction to the marquis Wû of Wei3, the marquis, speaking to him with kindly sympathy4, said, 'You are ill, Sir; you have suffered from your hard and laborious toils4 in the forests, and still you have been willing to come and see poor me5.' Hsü Wû-kwei replied, 'It is I who have to comfort your lordship; what occasion have you to comfort me? If your lordship go on to fill up the measure of your sensual desires, and to prolong your likes and dislikes, then the condition of your mental nature will be diseased, and if you discourage and repress those desires, and deny your likings and dislikings, that will be an affliction to your ears and eyes (deprived of their accustomed pleasures);—it is for me to comfort your lordship, what occasion have you to comfort me?' The marquis looked contemptuous, and made no reply.

After a little time, Hsü Wû-kwei said, 'Let me tell your lordship something:—I look at dogs and judge of them by their appearance6. One of the lowest quality seizes his food, satiates himself, and stops;—he has the attributes of a fox. One of a medium quality seems to be looking at the sun. One of the highest quality seems to have forgotten the one thing,—himself. But I judge still better of horses than I do of dogs. When I do so, I find that one goes straightforward, as if following a line; that another turns off, so as to describe a hook; that a third describes a square as if following the measure so called; and that a fourth describes a circle as exactly as a compass would make it. These are all horses of a state; but they are not equal to a horse of the kingdom. His qualities are complete. Now he looks anxious; now to be losing the way; now to be forgetting himself. Such a horse prances along, or rushes on, spurning the dust and not knowing where he is.' The marquis was greatly pleased and laughed.

When Hsü Wû-kwei came out, Nü Shang said to him, 'How was it, Sir, that you by your counsels produced such an effect on our ruler? In my counsellings of him, now indirectly, taking my subjects from the Books of Poetry, History, Rites, and Music; now directly, from the Metal Tablets7, and the six Bow-cases7, all calculated for the service (of the state), and to be of great benefit;—in these counsellings, repeated times without number, I have never seen the ruler show his teeth in a smile:—by what counsels have you made him so pleased to-day?' Hsü Wû-kwei replied, 'I only told him how I judged of dogs and horses by looking at their appearance.' 'So?' said Nü Shang, and the other rejoined, 'Have you not heard of the wanderer8 from Yüeh? when he had been gone from the state several days, he was glad when he saw any one whom he had seen in it; when he had been gone a month, he was glad when he saw any one whom he had known in it; and when he had been gone a round year, he was glad when he saw any one who looked like a native of it. The longer he was gone, the more longingly did he think of the people;—was it not so? The men who withdraw to empty valleys, where the hellebore bushes stop up the little paths made by the weasels, as they push their way or stand amid the waste, are glad when they seem to hear the sounds of human footsteps; and how much more would they be so, if it were their brothers and relatives talking and laughing by their side! How long it is since the words of a True9 man were heard as he talked and laughed by our ruler's side!'

2. At (another) interview of Hsü Wû-kwei with the marquis Wû, the latter said, 'You, Sir, have been dwelling in the forests for a long time, living on acorns and chestnuts, and satiating yourself with onions and chives, without thinking of poor me. Now (that you are here), is it because you are old? or because you wish to try again the taste of wine and meat? or because (you wish that) I may enjoy the happiness derived from the spirits of the altars of the Land and Grain?' Hsü Wû-kwei replied, 'I was born in a poor and mean condition, and have never presumed to drink of your lordship's wine, or eat of your meat. My object in coming was to comfort your lordship under your troubles.' 'What? comfort me under my troubles?' 'Yes, to comfort both your lordship's spirit and body.' The marquis said, 'What do you mean?' His visitor replied, 'Heaven and Earth have one and the same purpose in the production (of all men). However high one man be exalted, he should not think that he is favourably dealt with; and however low may be the position of another, he should not think that he is unfavourably dealt with. You are indeed the one and only lord of the 10,000 chariots (of your state), but you use your dignity to embitter (the lives of) all the people, and to pamper your cars, eyes, nose, and mouth. But your spirit does not acquiesce in this. The spirit (of man) loves to be in harmony with others and hates selfish indulgence10. This selfish indulgence is a disease, and therefore I would comfort you under it. How is it that your lordship more than others brings this disease on yourself?' The marquis said, 'I have wished to see you, Sir, for a long time. I want to love my people, and by the exercise of righteousness to make an end of war;—will that be sufficient?' Hsü Wû-kwei replied, 'By no means. To love the people is the first step to injure them'. By the exercise of righteousness to make an end of war is the root from which war is produced11. If your lordship try to accomplish your object in this way, you are not likely to succeed. All attempts to accomplish what we think good (with an ulterior end) is a bad contrivance. Although your lordship practise benevolence and righteousness (as you propose), it will be no better than hypocrisy. You may indeed assume the (outward) form, but successful accomplishment will lead to (inward) contention, and the change thence arising will produce outward fighting. Your lordship also must not mass files of soldiers in the passages of your galleries and towers, nor have footmen and horsemen in the apartments about your altars12. Do not let thoughts contrary to your success lie hidden in your mind; do not think of conquering men by artifice, or by (skilful) plans, or by fighting. If I kill the officers and people of another state, and annex its territory, to satisfy my selfish desires, while in my spirit I do not know whether the fighting be good, where is the victory that I gain? Your lordship's best plan is to abandon (your purpose). If you will cultivate in your breast the sincere purpose (to love the people), and so respond to the feeling of Heaven and Earth, and not (further) vex yourself, then your people will already have- escaped death;—what occasion will your lordship have to make an end of war?'

3. Hwang-Tî was going to see Tâ-kwei13 at the hill of Kü-zhze. Fang Ming was acting as charioteer, and Khang Yü was occupying the third place in the carriage. Kang Zo and Hsî Phäng went before the horses; and Khwän Hwun and Kû Khî followed the carriage. When they arrived at the wild of Hsiang-khäng, the seven sages were all perplexed, and could find no place at which to ask the way. just then they met with a boy tending some horses, and asked the way of him. 'Do you know,' they said, 'the hill of Kü-zhze?' and he replied that he did. He also said that he knew where Tâ-kwei was living. 'A strange boy is this!' said Hwang-Tî. 'He not only knows the hill of Kü-zhze, but he also knows where Tâ-kwei is living. Let me ask him about the government of mankind.' The boy said, 'The administration of the kingdom is like this (which I am doing);—what difficulty should there be in it? When I was young, I enjoyed myself roaming over all within the six confines of the world of space, and then I began to suffer from indistinct sight. A wise elder taught me, saying, "Ride in the chariot of the sun, and roam in the wild of Hsiang-Khäng." Now the trouble in my eyes is a little better, and I am again enjoying myself roaming outside the six confines of the world of space. As to the government of the kingdom, it is like this (which I am doing);what difficulty should there be in it?' Hwang-Tî said, 'The administration of the world is indeed not your business, my son; nevertheless, I beg to ask you about it.' The little lad declined to answer, but on Hwang-Tî putting the question again, he said, 'In what does the governor of the kingdom differ from him who has the tending of horses, and who has only to put away whatever in him would injure the horses?'

Hwang-Tî bowed to him twice with his head to the ground, called him his 'Heavenly Master14,' and withdrew.

4. If officers of wisdom do not see the changes which their anxious thinking has suggested, they have no joy; if debaters are not able to set forth their views in orderly style, they have no joy; if critical examiners find no subjects on which to exercise their powers of vituperation, they have no joy:—they are all hampered by external restrictions.

Those who try to attract the attention of their age (wish to) rise at court; those who try to win the regard of the people15 count holding office a glory; those who possess muscular strength boast of doing what is difficult; those who are bold and daring exert themselves in times of calamity; those who are able swordmen and spearmen delight in fighting; those whose powers are decayed seek to rest in the name (they have gained); those who are skilled in the laws seek to enlarge the scope of government; those who are proficient in ceremonies and music pay careful attention to their deportment; and those who profess benevolence and righteousness value opportunities (for displaying them).

The husbandmen who do not keep their fields well weeded are not equal to their business, nor are traders who do not thrive in the markets. When the common people have their appropriate employment morning and evening, they stimulate one another to diligence; the mechanics who are masters of their implements feel strong for their work. If their wealth does not increase, the greedy are distressed; if their power and influence is not growing, the ambitious are sad.

Such creatures of circumstance and things delight in changes, and if they meet with a time when they can show what they can do, they cannot keep themselves from taking advantage of it. They all pursue their own way like (the seasons of) the year, and do not change as things do. They give the reins to their bodies and natures, and allow themselves to sink beneath (the pressure of) things, and all their lifetime do not come back (to their proper selves):—is it not sad16?

5. Kwang-dze said, 'An archer, without taking aim beforehand, yet may hit the mark. If we say that he is a good archer, and that all the world may be is Îs17, is this allowable?' Hui-dze replied, 'It is.' Kwang-dze continued, 'All men do not agree in counting the same thing to be right, but every one maintains his own view to be right; (if we say) that all men may be Yâos, is this allowable?' Hui-dze (again) replied, 'It is;' and Kwang-dze went on, 'Very well; there are the literati, the followers of Mo (Tî), of Yang (Kû), and of Ping18;—making four (different schools). Including yourself, Master, there are five. Which of your views is really right? Or will you take the position of La Kü19? One of his disciples said to him, "Master, I have got hold of your method. I can in winter heat the furnace under my tripod, and in summer can produce ice." Lû Kü said, "That is only with the Yang element to call out the same, and with the Yin to call out the yin;—that is not my method. I will show you what my method is." On this he tuned two citherns, placing one of them in the hall, and the other in one of the inner apartments. Striking the note Kung20 in the one, the same note vibrated in the other, and so it was with the note Kio20; the two instruments being tuned in the same way. But if he had differently tuned them on other strings different from the normal arrangement of the five notes, the five-and-twenty strings would all have vibrated, without any difference of their notes, the note to which he had tuned them ruling and guiding all the others. Is your maintaining your view to be right just like this?'

Hui-dze replied, 'Here now are the literati, and the followers of Mo, Yang, and Ping. Suppose that they have come to dispute with me. They put forth their conflicting statements; they try vociferously to put me down; but none of them have ever proved me wrong —what do you say to this?' Kwang-dze said, 'There was a man of Khî who cast away his son in Sung to be a gatekeeper there, and thinking nothing of the mutilation lie would incur; the same man, to secure one of his sacrificial vessels or bells, would have it strapped and secured, while to find his son who was lost, he would not go out of the territory of his own state:—so forgetful was he of the relative importance of things. If a man of Khû, going to another state as a lame gate-keeper, at midnight, at a time when no one was nigh, were to fight with his boatman, he would not be able to reach the shore, and he would have done what he could to provoke the boatman's animosity21.'

6. As Kwang-dze was accompanying a funeral, when passing by the grave of Hui-dze22, he looked round, and said to his attendants, 'On the top of the nose of that man of Ying23 there is a (little) bit of mud like a fly's wing,' He sent for the artisan Shih to cut it away. Shih whirled his axe so as to produce a wind, which immediately carried off the mud entirely, leaving the nose uninjured, and the (statue of) the man of Ying' standing undisturbed. The ruler Yüan of Sung24 heard of the feat, called the artisan Shih, and said to him, 'Try and do the same thing on me.' The artisan said, 'Your servant has been able to trim things in that way, but the material on which I have worked has been dead for a long time.' Kwang-dze said, 'Since the death of the Master, I have had no material to work upon. I have had no one with whom to talk.'

7. Kwan Kung being ill, duke Hwan went to ask for him, and said, 'Your illness, father Kung, is very severe; should you not speak out your mind to me? Should this prove the great illness, to whom will it be best for me to entrust my State?' Kwan Kung said, 'To whom does your grace wish to entrust it?' 'To Pâo Shû-yâ25,' was the reply. 'He will not do. He is an admirable officer, pure and incorruptible, but with others who are not like himself he will not associate. And when he once hears of another man's faults, he never forgets them. If you employ him to administer the state, above, he will take the leading of your Grace, and, below, he will come into collision with the people;—in no long time you will be holding him as an offender.' The duke said, 'Who, then, is the man?' The reply was, 'If I must speak, there is Hsî Phäng26;— he will do. He is a man who forgets his own high position, and against whom those below him will not revolt. He is ashamed that he is not equal to Hwang-Tî, and pities those who are not equal to himself. Him who imparts of his virtue to others we call a sage; him who imparts of his wealth to others we call a man of worth. He who by his worth would preside over others, never succeeds in winning them; he who with his worth condescends to others, never but succeeds in winning them. Hsî Phäng has not been (much) heard of in the state; he has not been (much) distinguished in his own clan. But as I must speak, he is the man for you.'

8. The king of Wû, floating about on the Kiang, (landed and) ascended the Hill of monkeys, which all, when they saw him, scampered off in terror, and hid themselves among the thick hazels. There was one, however, which, in an unconcerned way, swung about on the branches, displaying its cleverness to the king, who thereon discharged an arrow at it. With a nimble motion it caught the swift arrow, and the king ordered his attendants to hurry forward and shoot it; and thus the monkey was seized and killed. The king then, looking round, said to his friend Yen Pû-î27, 'This monkey made a display of its artfulness, and trusted in its agility, to show me its arrogance;—this it was which brought it to this fate. Take warning from it. Ah! do not by your looks give yourself haughty airs!' Yen Pû-î27, when he returned home, put himself under the teaching of Tung Wû27, to root up28 his pride. He put away what he delighted in and abjured distinction. In three years the people of the kingdom spoke of him with admiration.

9. Nan-po Dze-khî29 was seated, leaning forward on his stool, and sighing gently as he looked up to heaven. (just then) Yen Khäng-dze29 came in, and said, when he saw him, 'Master, you surpass all others. Is it right to make your body thus like a mass of withered bones, and your mind like so much slaked lime?' The other said, 'I formerly lived in a grotto on a hill. At that time Thien Ho30 once came to see me, and all the multitudes of Khî congratulated him thrice (on his having found the proper man). I must first have shown myself, and so it was that he knew me; I must first have been selling (what I had), and so it was that he came to buy. If I had not shown what I possessed, how should he have known it; if I had not been selling (myself), how should he have come to buy me? I pity the men who lose themselves31; I also pity the men who pity others (for not being known); and I also pity the men who pity the men who pity those that pity others. But since then the time is long cone by; (and so I am in the state in which you have found me)32.

10. Kung-nî, having gone to Khû, the king ordered wine to be presented to him. Sun Shû-âo33 stood, holding the goblet in his hand. Î-liâo of Shih-nan33, having received (a cup), poured its contents out as a sacrificial libation, and said, 'The men of old, on such an occasion as this, made some speech.' Kung-nî said, 'I have heard of speech without words; but I have never spoken it; I will do so now. Î-liâo of Shih-nan kept (quietly) handling his little spheres, and the difficulties between the two Houses were resolved; Sun Shû-âo slept undisturbed on his couch, with his (dancer's) feather in his hand, and the men of Ying enrolled themselves for the war. I wish I had a beak three cubits long34.'

In the case of those two (ministers) we have what is called 'The Way that cannot be trodden35;' in (the case of Kung-nî) we have what is called 'the Argument without words35.' Therefore when all attributes are comprehended in the unity of the Tâo, and speech stops at the point to which knowledge does not reach, the conduct is complete. But where there is (not)36 the unity of the Tâo, the attributes cannot (always) be the same, and that which is beyond the reach of knowledge cannot be exhibited by any reasoning. There may be as many names as those employed by the Literati and the Mohists, but (the result is) evil. Thus when the sea does not reject the streams that flow into it in their eastward course, we have the perfection of greatness. The sage embraces in his regard both Heaven and Earth; his beneficent influence extends to all under the sky; and we do not know from whom it comes. Therefore though when living one may have no rank, and when dead no honorary epithet; though the reality (of what he is) may not be acknowledged and his name not established; we have in him what is called 'The Great Man.'

A dog is not reckoned good because it barks well; and a man is not reckoned wise because he speaks skilfully;—how much less can he be deemed Great! If one thinks he is Great, he is not fit to be accounted Great;—how much less is he so from the practice of the attributes (of the Tâo)37! Now none are so grandly complete as Heaven and Earth; but do they seek for anything to make them so grandly complete? He who knows this grand completion does not seek for it; he loses nothing and abandons nothing; he does not change himself from regard to (external) things; he turns in on himself, and finds there an inexhaustible store; he follows antiquity and does not feel about (for its lessons);—such is the perfect sincerity of the Great Man.

11. Dze-khî38 had eight sons. Having arranged them before him, he called Kiû-fang Yän39, and said to him, 'Look at the physiognomy of my sons for me;—which will be the fortunate one?' Yän said, 'Khwän is the fortunate one.' .Dze-khî looked startled, and joyfully said, 'In what way?' Yän replied, 'Khwän will share the meals of the ruler of a state to the end of his life.' The father looked uneasy, burst into tears, and said, 'What has my son done that he should come to such a fate?' Yin replied, 'When one shares the meals of the ruler of a state, blessings reach to all within the three branches of his kindred40, and how much more to his father and mother! But you, Master, weep when you hear this;—you oppose (the idea of) such happiness. It is the good fortune of your son, and you count it his misfortune.' Dze-khî said, 'O Yän, what sufficient ground have you for knowing that this will be Khwän's good fortune? (The fortune) that is summed up in wine and flesh affects only the nose and the mouth, but you are not able to know how it will come about. I have never been a shepherd, and yet a ewe lambed in the south-west corner of my house. I have never been fond of hunting, and yet a quail hatched her young in the south-east corner. If these were not prodigies, what can be accounted such? Where I wish to occupy my mind with my son is in (the wide sphere of) heaven and earth; I wish to seek his enjoyment and mine in (the idea of) Heaven, and our support from the Earth. I do not mix myself up with him in the affairs (of the world); nor in forming plans (for his advantage); nor in the practice of what is strange. I pursue with him the perfect virtue of Heaven and Earth, and do not allow ourselves to be troubled by outward things. I seek to be with him in a state of undisturbed indifference, and not to practise what affairs might indicate as likely to be advantageous. And now there is to come to us this vulgar recompense. Whenever there is a strange realisation, there must have been strange conduct. Danger threatens;—not through any sin of me or of my son, but as brought about, I apprehend, by Heaven. It is this which makes me weep!'

Not long after this, .Dze-khî sent off Khwän to go to Yen41, when he was made prisoner by some robbers on the way. It would have been difficult to sell him if he were whole and entire, and they thought their easiest plan was to cut off (one of his) feet first. They did so, and sold him in Khî, where he became Inspector of roads for a Mr. Khü42. Nevertheless he had flesh to eat till he died.

12. Nieh Khüeh met Hsü Yû (on the way), and said to him, 'Where, Sir, are you going to?' 'I am fleeing from Yâo,' was the reply. 'What do you mean?' 'Yâo has become so bent on his benevolence that I am afraid the world will laugh at him, and that in future ages men will be found eating one another43. Now the people are collected together without difficulty. Love them, and they respond with affection; benefit them, and they come to you; praise them, and they are stimulated (to please you); make them to experience what they dislike, and they disperse. When the loving and benefiting proceed from benevolence and righteousness, those who forget the benevolence and righteousness, and those who make a profit of them, are the many. In this way the practice of benevolence and righteousness comes to be without sincerity and is like a borrowing of the instruments with which men catch birds44. In all this the one man's seeking to benefit the world by his decisions and enactments (of such a nature) is as if he were to cut through (the nature of all) by one operation;—Yâo knows how wise and superior men can benefit the world, but he does not also know how they injure it. It is only those who stand outside such men that know this45.'

There are the pliable and weak; the easy and hasty; the grasping and crooked. Those who are called the pliable and weak learn the words of some one master, to which they freely yield their assent, being secretly pleased with themselves, and thinking that their knowledge is sufficient, while they do not know that they have not yet begun (to understand) a single thing. It is this which makes them so pliable and weak. The easy and hasty are like lice on a pig. The lice select a place where the bristles are more wide apart, and look on it as a great palace or a large park. The slits between the toes, the overlappings of its skin, about its nipples and its thighs,—all these seem to them safe apartments and advantageous places;—they do not know that the butcher one morning, swinging about his arms, will spread the grass, and kindle the fire, so that they and the pig will be roasted together. So do they appear and disappear with the place where they harboured:—this is why they are called the easy and hasty.

Of the grasping and crooked we have an example in Shun. Mutton has no craving for ants, but ants have a craving for mutton, for it is rank. There was a rankness about the conduct of Shun, and the people were pleased with him. Hence when he thrice changed his residence, every one of them became a capital city46. When he came to the wild of Täng47, he had 100,000 families about him. Yâo having heard of the virtue and ability of Shun, appointed him to a new and uncultivated territory, saying, 'I look forward to the benefit of his coming here.' When Shun was appointed to this new territory, his years were advanced, and his intelligence was decayed;—and yet he could not find a place of rest or a home. This is an example of being grasping and wayward.

Therefore (in opposition to such) the spirit-like man dislikes the flocking of the multitudes to him. When the multitudes come, they do not agree; and when they do not agree, no benefit results from their coming. Hence there are none whom he brings very near to himself, and none whom he keeps at a great distance. He keeps his virtue in close embrace, and warmly nourishes (the spirit of) harmony, so as to be in accordance with all men. This is called the True man48. Even the knowledge of the ant he puts away; his plans are simply those of the fishes49; even the notions of the sheep he discards. His seeing is simply that of the eye; his hearing that of the ear; his mind is governed by its general exercises. Being such, his course is straight and level as if marked out by a line, and its every change is in accordance (with the circumstances of the case).

13. The True men of old waited for the issues of events as the arrangements of Heaven, and did not by their human efforts try to take the place of Heaven. The True men of old (now) looked on success as life and on failure as death; and (now) on success as death and on failure as life. The operation of medicines will illustrate this:—there are monk's-bane, the kieh-käng, the tribulus fruit, and china-root; each of these has the time and case for which it is supremely suitable; and all such plants and their suitabilities cannot be mentioned particularly. Kâu-kien50 took his station on (the hill of) Kwâi-khî with 3,000 men with their buff-coats and shields:—(his minister) Kung knew how the ruined (Yüeh) might still be preserved, but the same man did not know the sad fate in store for himself50. Hence it is said, 'The eye of the owl has its proper fitness; the leg of the crane has its proper limit, and to cut off any of it would distress (the bird).' Hence (also) it is (further) said, 'When the wind passes over it, the volume of the river is diminished, and so it is when the sun passes over it. But let the wind and sun keep a watch together on the river, and it will not begin to feel that they are doing it any injury:—it relies on its springs and flows on.' Thus, water does its part to the ground with undeviating exactness; and so does the shadow to the substance; and one thing to another. Therefore there is danger from the power of vision in the eyes, of hearing in the ears, and of the inordinate thinking of the mind; yea, there is danger from the exercise of every power of which man's constitution is the depository. When the danger has come to a head, it cannot be averted, and the calamity is perpetuated, and goes on increasing. The return from this (to a state of security) is the result of (great) effort, and success can be attained only after a long time; and yet men consider (their power of self-determination) as their precious possession:—is it not sad? It is in this way that we have the ruin of states and the slaughtering of the people without end; while no one knows how to ask how it comes about.

14. Therefore, the feet of man on the earth tread but on a small space, but going on to where he has not trod before, he traverses a great distance easily; so his knowledge is but small, but going on to what he does not already know, he comes to know what is meant by Heaven51. He knows it as The Great Unity; The Great Mystery; The Great Illuminator; The Great Framer; The Great Boundlessness; The Great Truth; The Great Determiner. This makes his knowledge complete. As The Great Unity, he comprehends it; as The Great Mystery, he unfolds it; as the Great Illuminator, he contemplates it; as the Great Framer, it is to him the Cause of all; as the Great Boundlessness, all is to him its embodiment; as The Great Truth, he examines it; as The Great Determiner, he holds it fast.

Thus Heaven is to him all; accordance with it is the brightest intelligence. Obscurity has in this its pivot; in this is the beginning. Such being the case, the explanation of it is as if it were no explanation; the knowledge of it is as if it were no knowledge. (At first) he does not know it, but afterwards he comes to know it. In his inquiries, he must not set to himself any limits, and yet he cannot be without a limit. Now ascending, now descending, then slipping from the grasp, (the Tâo) is yet a reality, unchanged now as in antiquity, and always without defect:—may it not be called what is capable of the greatest display and expansion? Why should we not inquire into it? Why should we be perplexed about it? With what does not perplex let us explain what perplexes, till we cease to be perplexed. So may we arrive at a great freedom from all perplexity!


















back 1 See vol. xxxix, pp. 153, 154.

back 2 A favourite and minister of the marquis Wû.

back 3 This was the second marquis of Wei, one of the three principalities into which the great state of Zin had been broken up, and which he ruled as the marquis Kî for sixteen years, B.C. 386-371. His son usurped the title of king, and was the 'king Hui of Liang,' whom Mencius had interviews with. Wû, or 'martial,' was Kî's honorary, posthumous epithet.

back 4 The character (###) which I thus translate, has two tones, the second and fourth. Here and elsewhere in this paragraph and the next, it is with one exception in the fourth tone, meaning 'to comfort or reward for toils endured.' The one exception is its next occurrence,—'hard and laborious toils.'

back 5 The appropriate and humble designation of himself by the ruler of a state.

back 6 Literally, 'I physiognomise dogs.'

back 7 The names of two Books, or Collections of Tablets, the former {footnote p. 93"> containing Registers of the Population, the latter treating of military subjects.

back 8 Kwo Hsiang makes this 'a banished criminal.' This is not necessary.

back 9 Wû-kwei then had a high opinion of his own attainments in Tâoism, and a low opinion of Nü Shang and the other courtiers.

back 10 Wü-kwei had a high idea of the constitution of human nature.

back 11 Tâoistic teaching, but questionable.

back 12 We need more information about the customs of the feudal princes fully to understand the language of this sentence.

back 13 Tâ (or Thâi)-kwei (or wei) appears here as the name of a person. It cannot be the name of a hill, as it is said by some to be. The whole paragraph is parabolic or allegorical; and Tâ-kwei is probably a personification of the Great Tâo itself, though no meaning of the character kwei can be adduced to justify this interpretation. The horseherd boy is further supposed to be a personification of the 'Great Simplicity,' which is characteristic of the Tâo, the spontaneity of it, unvexed by the wisdom of man. The lesson of the paragraph is that taught in the eleventh Book, and many other places.

back 14 This is the title borne to the present day by the chief or pope of Tâoism, the representative of Mang Tâo-ling of our first century.

back 15 Taking the initial kung in the third tone. If we take it in the first tone, the meaning is different.

back 16 All the parties in this paragraph disallow the great principle of Tâoism, which does everything by doing nothing.

back 17 The famous archer of the Hsiâ dynasty, in the twenty-second century B.C.

back 18 The name of Kung-sun Lung, the Lung Li-khän of Bk. XXI. par. 1.

back 19 Only mentioned here. The statement of his disciple and his remark on it are equally obscure, though the latter is partially illustrated from the twenty-third, twenty-fourth, and other hexagrams of the Yih King.

back 20 The sounds of the first and third notes of the Chinese musical scale, corresponding to our A and E. I know too little of music myself to pronounce further on Lû Kü's illustration.

back 21 The illustrations in this last member of the paragraph are also obscure. Lin Hsî-kung says that all the old explanations of them are defective; his own explanation has failed to make itself clear to me.

back 22 The expression in the last sentence of the paragraph, 'the Master,' makes it certain that this was the grave of Kwang-dze's friend with whom he had had so many conversations and arguments.

back 23 Ying was the capital of Khû. I have seen in China about the graves of wealthy and distinguished men many life-sized statues of men somehow connected with them.

back 24 Yüan is called the 'ruler' of Sung. That duchy was by this time a mere dependency of Khî. The sacrifices of its old ruling House were finally extinguished by Khî in B.C. 206.

back 25 Pâo Shû-yâ had been the life-long friend of the dying premier, and to him in the first place had been owing the elevation of Hwan to the marquisate.

back 26 For a long time a great officer of Khî, but he died in the same year as Kwan Kung himself.

back 27 We know these names only from their occurrence here. Tung Wû must have been a professor of Tâoism.

back 28 The text here is ###, to help;' but it is explained as = ###, 'a hoe.' The Khang-hsî dictionary does not give this meaning of the character, but we find it in that of Yen Yüan.

back 29 See the first paragraph of Bk. II.

back 30 ### must be the ### of Sze-mâ Khien, who became marquis of Khî in B.C. 389.

back 31 In seeking for worldly honours.

back 32 That is, I have abjured all desire for worldly honour, and desire attainment in the Tho alone.

back 33 See Mencius VI, ii, 15. Sun Shû-âo was chief minister to king Khwang who died in B.C. 591, and died, probably, before Confucius was born, and Î-liâo (p. 28, n. 3) appears in public life only after the death of the sage. The three men could not have appeared together at any time. This account of their doing so was devised by our author as a peg on which to hang his own lessons in the rest of the paragraph. The two historical events referred to I have found it difficult to discover. They are instances of doing nothing, and yet thereby accomplishing what is very great. The action of Î-liâo in 'quietly handling his balls' recalls my seeing the same thing done by a gentleman at Khü-fâu, the city of Confucius, in 1873. Being left there with a companion, and not knowing how to get to the Grand Canal, many gentlemen came to advise with us how we should proceed. Among them was one who, while tendering his advice, kept rolling about two brass balls in one palm with the fingers of the other hand. When I asked the meaning of his action, I was told, 'To show how he is at his ease and master of the situation.' I mention the circumstance because I have nowhere found the phrase in the text adequately explained.

back 34 This strange wish concludes the speech of Confucius. What follows is from Kwang-dze.

back 35 Compare the opening chapters of the Tâo Teh King.

back 36 The Tâo is greater than any and all of its attributes.

back 37 See note 3 on previous page.

back 38 This can hardly be any other but Nan-kwo Dze-khî.

back 39 A famous physiognomist; some say, of horses. Hwâi-nan Dze calls him Kiû-fang Kâo (###).

back 40 See Mayers's Manual, p. 303.

back 41 The state so called.

back 42 One expert supposes the text here to mean 'duke Khü;' but there was no such duke of Khî. The best explanation seems to be that Khü was a rich gentleman, inspector of the roads of Khî, or of the streets of its capital, who bought Khwän to take his duties for him.

back 43 Compare in Bk. XXIII, par. 2.

back 44 A scheming for one's own advantage.

back 45 I suppose that the words of Hsü Yû stop with this sentence, and that from this to the end of the paragraph we have the sentiments of Kwang-dze himself. The style is his,—graphic but sometimes coarse.

back 46 See note on Mencius V, i, 2, 3.

back 47 Situation unknown.

back 48 The spirit-like man and the true man are the same.

back 49 Fishes forget everything in the water.

back 50 See the account of the struggle between Kâu-kien of Yüeh and Fû-khâi of Wû in the eightieth and some following chapters of the I History of the various States of the Eastern Kâu (Lieh Kwo Kîh).' We have sympathy with Kâu-kien, till his ingratitude to his two great ministers, one of whom was Wän Kung (the Kung of the text), shows the baseness of his character.

back 51 This paragraph grandly sets forth the culmination of all inquiries into the Tâo as leading to the knowledge of Heaven; and the means by which it may be attained to.