Of my sentences nine in ten are metaphorical; of my
illustrations seven in ten are from valued writers. The rest of
my words are like the water that daily fills the cup, tempered
and harmonised by the Heavenly element in our nature.
The nine sentences in ten which are metaphorical are borrowed
from extraneous things to assist (the comprehension of) my
argument. (When it is said, for instance), 'A father does not
act the part of matchmaker for his own son,' (the meaning is
that) 'it is better for another man to praise the son than for
his father to do so.' The use of such metaphorical language is
not my fault, but the fault of men (who would not otherwise
readily understand me).
Men assent to views which agree with their own, and oppose those
which do not so agree. Those which agree with their own they
hold to be right, and those which do not so agree they hold to
be wrong. The seven out of ten illustrations taken from valued
writers are designed to put an end to disputations. Those
writers are the men of hoary eld, my predecessors in time. But
such as are unversed in the warp and woof, the beginning and end
of the subject, cannot be set down as of venerable eld, and
regarded as the predecessors of others. If men have not that in
them which fits them to precede others, they are without the way
proper to man, and they who are without the way proper to man
can only be pronounced defunct monuments of antiquity.
Words like the water that daily issues from the cup, and are
harmonised by the Heavenly Element (of our nature), may be
carried on into the region of the unlimited, and employed to the
end of our years. But without words there is an agreement (in
principle). That agreement is not effected by words, and an
agreement in words is not effected by it. Hence it is said, 'Let
there be no words.' Speech does not need words. One may speak
all his life, and not have spoken a (right) word; and one may
not have spoken all his life, and yet all his life been giving
utterance to the (right) words. There is that which makes a
thing allowable, and that which makes a thing not allowable.
There is that which makes a thing right, and that which makes a
thing not right. How is a thing right? It is right because it is
right. How is a thing wrong? It is wrong because it is wrong.
How is a thing allowable? It is allowable because it is so. How
is a thing not allowable? It is not allowable because it is not
so. Things indeed have what makes them right, and what makes
them allowable. There is nothing which has not its condition of
right; nothing which has not its condition of allowability. But
without the words of the (water-) cup in daily use, and
harmonised by the Heavenly Element (in our nature), what one can
continue long in the possession of these characteristics?
All things are divided into their several classes, and succeed
to one another in the same way, though of different bodily
forms. They begin and end as in an unbroken ring, though how it
is they do so be not apprehended. This is what is called the
Lathe of Heaven; and the Lathe of Heaven is the Heavenly Element
in our nature.
Kwang-dze said to Hui-Sze, 'When Confucius was in his sixtieth
year, in that year his views changed. What he had before held to
be right, he now ended by holding to be wrong; and he did not
know whether the things which he now pronounced to be right were
not those which he had for fifty-nine years held to be wrong.'
Hui-dze replied, 'Confucius with an earnest will pursued the
acquisition of knowledge, and acted accordingly.' Kwang-dze
rejoined, 'Confucius disowned such a course, and never said that
it was his. He said, "Man receives his powers from the Great
Source (of his being), and he should restore them to their
(original) intelligence in his life. His singing should be in
accordance with the musical tubes, and his speech a model for
imitation. When profit and righteousness are set before him, and
his liking (for the latter) and dislike (of the former), his
approval and disapproval, are manifested, that only serves to
direct the speech of men (about him). To make men in heart
submit, and not dare to stand up in opposition to him; to
establish the fixed law for all under heaven:--ah! ah! I have
not attained to that."'
Zäng-dze twice took office, and on the two occasions his state
of mind was different. He said, 'While my parents were alive I
took office, and though my emolument was only three fû (of
grain), my mind was happy. Afterwards when I took office, my
emolument was three thousand kung; but I could not share it with
my parents, and my mind was sad.' The other disciples asked
Kung-nî, saying, 'Such an one as Shän may be pronounced free
from all entanglement:--is he to be blamed for feeling as he
did?' The reply was, 'But he was subject to entanglement. If he
had been free from it, could he have had that sadness? He would
have looked on his three fû and three thousand kung no more than
on a heron or a mosquito passing before him.'
Yen Khäng Dze-yû said to Tung-kwo, Dze-khî, 'When I (had begun
to) hear your instructions, the first year, I continued a simple
rustic; the second year, I became docile; the third year, I
comprehended (your teaching); the fourth year, I was (plastic)
as a thing; the fifth year, I made advances; the sixth year, the
spirit entered (and dwelt in me); the seventh year, (my nature
as designed by) Heaven was perfected; the eighth year, I knew no
difference between death and life; the ninth year, I attained to
the Great Mystery.
'Life has its work to do, and death ensues, (as if) the common
character of each were a thing prescribed. Men consider that
their death has its cause; but that life from (the operation of)
the Yang has no cause. But is it really so? How does (the Yang)
operate in this direction? Why does it not operate there?
'Heaven has its places and spaces which can be calculated; (the
divisions of) the earth can be assigned by men. But how shall we
search for and find out (the conditions of the Great Mystery)?
We do not know when and how (life) will end, but how shall we
conclude that it is not determined (from without)? and as we do
not know when and how it begins, how should we conclude that it
is not (so) determined?
'In regard to the issues of conduct which we deem appropriate,
how should we conclude that there are no spirits presiding over
them; and where those issues seem inappropriate, how should we
conclude that there are spirits presiding over them?'
The penumbrae (once) asked the shadow, saying, 'Formerly you
were looking down, and now you are looking up; formerly you had
your hair tied up, and now it is dishevelled; formerly you were
sitting, and now you have risen up; formerly you were walking,
and now you have stopped:--how is all this?' The shadow said,
'Venerable Sirs, how do you ask me about such small matters?
These things all belong to me, but I do not know how they do so.
I am (like) the shell of a cicada or the cast-off skin of a
snake;--like them, and yet not like them. With light and the sun
I make my appearance; with darkness and the night I fade away.
Am not I dependent on the substance from which I am thrown? And
that substance is itself dependent on something else! When it
comes, I come with it; when it goes, I go with it. When it comes
under the influence of the strong Yang, I come under the same.
Since we are both produced by that strong Yang, what occasion is
there for you to question me?'
Yang Dze-kü had gone South to Phei, while Lâo Tan was travelling
in the west in Khin. (He thereupon) asked (Lao-dze) to come to
the border (of Phei), and went himself to Liang, where be met
him. Lâo-dze stood in the middle of the way, and, looking up to
heaven, said with a sigh, 'At first I thought that you might be
taught, but now I see that you cannot be.' Yang Dze-kü made no
reply; and when they came to their lodging-house, he brought in
water for the master to wash his hands and rinse his mouth,
along with a towel and comb. He then took off his shoes outside
the door, went forward on his knees, and said, 'Formerly, your
disciple wished to ask you, Master, (the reason of what you
said); but you were walking, and there was no opportunity, and
therefore I did not presume to speak. Now there is an
opportunity, and I beg to ask why you spoke as you did.' Lâo-dze
replied, 'Your eyes are lofty, and you stare;--who would live
with you? The purest carries himself as if he were soiled; the
most virtuous seems to feel himself defective.' Yang Dze-kü
looked abashed and changed countenance, saying, 'I receive your
commands with reverence.'
When he first went to the lodging-house, the people of it met
him and went before him. The master of it carried his mat for
him, and the mistress brought the towel and comb. The lodgers
left their mats, and the cook his fire-place (as he passed
them). When he went away, the others in the house would have
striven with him about (the places for) their mats.