Nieh Khüeh put four questions to Wang Î, not one of which did he
know (how to answer). On this Nieh Khüeh leaped up, and in great
delight walked away and informed Phû-î-dze of it, who said to
him, 'Do you (only) now know it? He of the line of Yü was not
equal to him of the line of Thâi. He of Yü still kept in himself
(the idea of) benevolence by which to constrain (the submission
of) men; and he did win men, but he had not begun to proceed by
what did not belong to him as a man. He of the line of Thâi
would sleep tranquilly, and awake in contented simplicity. He
would consider himself now (merely) as a horse, and now (merely)
as an ox. His knowledge was real and untroubled by doubts; and
his virtue was very true:--he had not begun to proceed by what
belonged to him as a man.
Kien Wû went to see the mad (recluse), Khieh-yü, who said to him,
'What did Zäh-kung Shih tell you?' The reply was, 'He told me
that when rulers gave forth their regulations according to their
own views and enacted righteous measures, no one would venture
not to obey them, and all would be transformed.' Khieh-yd said,
'That is but the hypocrisy of virtue. For the right ordering of
the world it would be like trying to wade through the sea and
dig through the Ho, or employing a musquito to carry a mountain
on its back. And when a sage is governing, does he govern men's
outward actions? He is (himself) correct, and so (his government)
goes on;--this is the simple and certain way by which he secures
the success of his affairs. Think of the bird which flies high,
to avoid being hurt by the dart on the string of the archer, and
the little mouse which makes its hole deep under Shän-khiû to
avoid the danger of being smoked or dug out;-are (rulers) less
knowing than these two little creatures?'
Thien Kän, rambling on the south of (mount) Yin, came to the
neighbourhood of the Liâo-water.
Happening there to meet with the man whose name is not known',
he put a question to him, saying, 'I beg to ask what should be
done in order to (carry on) the government of the world.' The
nameless man said, 'Go away; you are a rude borderer. Why do you
put to me a question for which you are unprepared? I would
simply play the part of the Maker of (all) things. When wearied,
I would mount on the bird of the light and empty air, proceed
beyond the six cardinal points, and wander in the region of
nonentity, to dwell in the wilderness of desert space. What
method have you, moreover, for the government of the world that
you (thus) agitate my mind?' (Thien Kän), however, again asked
the question, and the nameless man said, 'Let your mind find its
enjoyment in pure simplicity; blend yourself with (the primary)
ether in idle indifference; allow all things to take their
natural course; and admit no personal or selfish consideration:--do
this and the world will be governed.'
Yang Dze-kü, having an interview with Lao Tan, said to him, 'Here
is a man, alert and vigorous in responding to all matters,
clearsighted and widely intelligent, and an unwearied student of
the Tâo;--can he be compared to one of the intelligent kings?'
The reply was, 'Such a man is to one of the intelligent kings
but as the bustling underling of a court who toils his body and
distresses his mind with his various contrivances. And moreover,
it is the beauty of the skins of the tiger and leopard which
makes men hunt them; the agility of the monkey, or (the sagacity
of) the dog that catches the yak, which make men lead them in
strings; but can one similarly endowed be compared to the
Yang dze-kü looked discomposed and said, 'I venture to ask you
what the government of the intelligent kings is.' Lâo Tan
replied, 'In the governing of the intelligent kings, their
services overspread all under the sky, but they did not seem to
consider it as proceeding from themselves; their transforming
influence reached to all things, but the people did not refer it
to them with hope. No one could tell the name of their agency,
but they made men and things be joyful in themselves. Where they
took their stand could not be fathomed, and they found their
enjoyment in (the realm of) nonentity.'
In Käng there was a mysterious wizard called Ki-hsien. He knew
all about the deaths and births of men, their preservation and
ruin, their misery and happiness, and whether their lives would
be long or short, foretelling the year, the month, the decade
and the day like a spirit. When the people of Käng saw him, they
all ran out of his way. Lieh-dze went to see him, and was
fascinated by him. Returning, he told Hû-dze of his interview,
and said, 'I considered your doctrine, my master, to be perfect,
but I have found another which is superior to it.' Hû-dze
replied, 'I have communicated to you but the outward letter of
my doctrine, and have not communicated its reality and spirit;
and do you think that you are in possession of it? However many
hens there be, if there be not the cock among them, how should
they lay (real) eggs? When you confront the world with your
doctrine, you are sure to show in your countenance (all that is
in your mind), and so enable (this) man to succeed in
interpreting your physiognomy. Try and come to me with him, that
I may show myself to him.'
On the morrow, accordingly, Lieh-dze came with the man and saw
Ha-dze. When they went out, the wizard said, 'Alas! your master
is a dead man. He will not live;--not for ten days more! I saw
something strange about him;--I saw the ashes (of his life) all
slaked with water!' When Lieh-dze reentered, he wept till the
front of his jacket was wet with his tears, and told Hû-dze what
the man had said. Hû-dze said, 'I showed myself to him with the
forms of (vegetation beneath) the earth. There were the sprouts
indeed, but without (any appearance of) growth or regularity:--he
seemed to see me with the springs of my (vital) power closed up.
Try and come to me with him again.'
Next day, accordingly, Lieh-dze brought the man again and saw Hû-dze.
When they went out, the man said, 'It is a fortunate thing for
your master that he met with me. He will get better; he has all
the signs of living! I saw the balance (of the springs of life)
that had been stopped (inclining in his favour).' Lieh-dze went
in, and reported these words to his master, who said, 'I showed
myself to him after the pattern of the earth (beneath the) sky.
Neither semblance nor reality entered (into my exhibition), but
the springs (of life) were issuing from beneath my feet;--he
seemed to see me with the springs of vigorous action in full
play. Try and come with him again.'
Next day Lieh-dze came with the man again, and again saw Hû-dze
with him. When they went out, the wizard said, 'Your master is
never the same. I cannot understand his physiognomy. Let him try
to steady himself, and I will again view him.' Lieh-dze went in
and reported this to Hû-dze, who said, 'This time I showed
myself to him after the pattern of the grand harmony (of the two
elemental forces), with the superiority inclining to neither. He
seemed to see me with the springs of (vital) power in equal
balance. Where the water wheels about from (the movements of) a
dugong, there is an abyss; where it does so from the arresting
(of its course), there is an abyss; where it does so, and the
water keeps flowing on, there is an abyss. There are nine
abysses with their several names, and I have only exhibited
three of them. Try and come with him again.'
Next day they came, and they again saw Hû-dze. But before he had
settled himself in his position, the wizard lost himself and ran
away. 'Pursue him,' said Hû-dze, and Lieh-dze did so, but could
not come up with him. He returned, and told Hû-dze, saying,
'There is an end of him; he is lost; I could not find him.'
Hû-dze rejoined, 'I was showing him myself after the pattern of
what was before I began to come from my author. I confronted him
with pure vacancy, and an easy indifference. He did not know
what I meant to represent. Now he thought it was the idea of
exhausted strength, and now that of an onward flow, and
therefore he ran away.
After this, Lieh-dze considered that he had not yet begun to
learn (his master's doctrine). He returned to his house, and for
three years did not go out. He did the cooking for his wife. He
fed the pigs as if he were feeding men. He took no part or
interest in occurring affairs. He put away the carving and
sculpture about him, and returned to pure simplicity. Like a
clod of earth he stood there in his bodily presence. Amid all
distractions he was (silent) and shut up in himself. And in this
way he continued to the end of his life.
Non-action (makes its exemplifier) the lord of all fame;
non-action (serves him as) the treasury of all plans; non-action
(fits him for) the burden of all offices; non-action (makes him)
the lord of all wisdom. The range of his action is
inexhaustible, but there is nowhere any trace of his presence.
He fulfils all that he has received from Heaven, but he does not
see that he was the recipient of anything. A pure vacancy (of
all purpose) is what characterises him. When the perfect man
employs his mind, it is a mirror. It conducts nothing and
anticipates nothing; it responds to (what is before it), but
does not retain it. Thus he is able to deal successfully with
all things, and injures none.
The Ruler of the Southern Ocean was Shû, the Ruler of the
Northern Ocean was Hû, and the Ruler of the Centre was Chaos.
Shû and Hû were continually meeting in the land of Chaos, who
treated them very well. They consulted together how they might
repay his kindness, and said, 'Men all have seven orifices for
the purpose of seeing, hearing, eating, and breathing, while
this (poor) Ruler alone has not one. Let us try and make them
for him.' Accordingly they dug one orifice in him every day; and
at the end of seven days Chaos died.