Section TWENTY-SIX - EXTERNAL THINGS
EXTERNAL THINGS CANNOT be counted on. Hence Lung-feng was executed, Pi Kan was sentenced to death, Prince Chi feigned madness, E Lai was killed, and Chieh and Chou were overthrown.1 There is no ruler who does not want his ministers to be loyal. But loyal ministers are not always trusted. Hence Wu Yun was thrown into the Yangtze and Ch'ang Hung died in Shu, where the people stored away his blood, and after three years it was transformed into green jade.2 There is no parent who does not want his son to be filial. But filial sons are not always loved. Hence Hsiao-chi grieved and Tseng Shen sorrowed.3
When wood rubs against wood, flames spring up. When metal remains by the side of fire, it melts and flows away. When the yin and yang go awry, then heaven and earth see astounding sights. Then we hear the crash and roll of thunder, and fire comes in the midst of rain and burns up the great pagoda tree. Delight and sorrow are there to trap man on either side so that he has no escape. Fearful and trembling, he can reach no completion. His mind is as though trussed and suspended between heaven and earth, bewildered and lost in delusion. Profit and loss rub against each other and light the countless fires that burn up the inner harmony of the mass of men. The moon cannot put out the fire, so that in time all is consumed and the Way comes to an end.4
Chuang Chous family was very poor and so he went to borrow some grain from the marquis of Chien-ho. The marquis said, "Why, of course. I'll soon be getting the tribute money from my fief, and when I do, I'll be glad to lend you three hundred pieces of gold. Will that be all right?"
Chuang Chou flushed with anger and said, "As I was coming here yesterday, I heard someone calling me on the road. I turned around and saw that there was a perch in the carriage rut. I said to him, `Come, perch - what are you doing here?' He replied, `I am a Wave Official of the Eastern Sea. Couldn't you give me a dipperful of water, so I can stay alive?' I said to him, `Why, of course. I'm just about to start south to visit the kings of Wu and Yueh. I'll change the course of the West River and send it in your direction. Will that be all right?' The perch flushed with anger and said, `I've lost my element! I have nowhere to go! If you can get me a dipper of water, I'll be able to stay alive. But if you give me an answer like that, then you'd best look for me in the dried fish store!' "
Prince Jen made an enormous fishhook with a huge line, baited it with fifty bullocks, settled himself on top of Mount K'uai-chi, and cast with his pole into the eastern sea. Morning after morning he dropped the hook, but for a whole year he got nothing. At last a huge fish swallowed the bait . and dived down, dragging the enormous hook. It plunged to the bottom in a fierce charge, rose up and shook its dorsal fins, until the white waves were like mountains and the sea waters lashed and churned. The noise was like that of gods and demons and it spread terror for a thousand li. When Prince Jen had landed his fish, he cut it up and dried it, and from Chih-ho east, from Ts'ang-wu north, there was no one who did not get his fill. Since then the men of later generations who have piddling talents and a penchant for odd stories all astound each other by repeating the tale.
Now if you shoulder your pole and line, march to the ditches and gullies, and watch for minnows and perch, then you'll have a hard time ever landing a big fish. If you parade your little theories and fish for the post of district. magistrate, you will be far from the Great Understanding. So if a man has never heard of the style of Prince Jen, he's a long way from being able to join with the men who run the world.
The Confucians rob graves in accordance with the Odes and ritual. The big Confucian announces to his underlings: "The east grows light! How is the matter proceeding?"
The little Confucians say: "We haven't got the graveclothes off him yet but there's a pearl in his mouth! 5 Just as the Ode says:
Green, green the grain
Growing on grave mound slopes;
If in life you gave no alms
In death how do you deserve a pearl?"
They push back his sidelocks, press down his beard, and then one of them pries into his chin with a little metal gimlet and gently pulls apart the jaws so as not to injure the pearl in his mouth.
A disciple of Lao Lai-tzu6 was out gathering firewood when he happened to meet Confucius. He returned and reported, "There's a man over there with a long body and short legs, his back a little humped and his ears set way back, who looks as though he were trying to attend to everything within the four seas. I don't know who it can be."
Lao Lai-tzu said, "That's Kung Ch'iu. Tell him to come over here!"
When Confucius arrived, Lao Lai-tzu said, "Ch'iu, get rid of your proud bearing and that knowing look on your face and you can become a gentleman!"
Confucius bowed and stepped back a little, a startled and changed expression on his face, and then asked, "Do you think I can make any progress in my labors?"
Lao Lai-tzu said, "You can't bear to watch the sufferings of one age, and so you go and make trouble for ten thousand ages to come! ' Are you just naturally a boor? Or don't you have the sense to understand the situation? You take pride in practicing charity and making people happy8 - the shame of it will follow you all your days! These are the actions, the `progress' of mediocre men - men who pull each other around with fame, drag each other into secret schemes, join together to praise Yao and condemn Chieh, when the best thing would be to forget them both and put a stop to praise! What is contrary cannot fail to be injured, what moves [when it shouldn't] cannot fail to be wrong. The sage is hesitant and reluctant to begin an affair, and so he always ends in success. But what good are these actions of yours? They end in nothing but a boast!"
Lord Yuan of Sung one night dreamed he saw a man with disheveled hair who peered in at the side door of his chamber and said, "I come from the Tsai-lu Deeps. I was on my way as envoy from the Clear Yangtze to the court of the Lord of the Yellow River when a fisherman named Yu Chu caught me!
When Lord Yuan woke up, he ordered his men to divine the meaning, and they replied, "This is a sacred turtle." "Is there a fisherman named Yu Chu?'' he asked, and his attendants replied, "There is." "Order Yu Chu to come to court!"
The next day Yu Chu appeared at court and the ruler said, "What kind of fish have you caught recently?"
Yu Chu replied, "I caught a white turtle in my net. Its five feet around."
"Present your turtle!" ordered the ruler. When the turtle was brought, the ruler could not decide whether to kill it or let it live and, being in doubt, he consulted his diviners, who replied, "Kill the turtle and divine with it - it will bring good luck." Accordingly the turtle was stripped of its shell, and of seventy-two holes drilled in it for prognostication, not one failed to yield a true answer.9
Confucius said, "The sacred turtle could appear to Lord Yuan in a dream but it couldn't escape from Yu Chu's net. It knew enough to give correct answers to seventy-two queries but it couldn't escape the disaster of having its belly ripped open. So it is that knowledge has its limitations, and spirituality has that which it can do nothing about. Even the most perfect wisdom can be outwitted by ten thousand schemers. Fish do not [know enough to] fear a net, but only to fear pelicans. Discard little wisdom and great wisdom will become clear. Discard goodness and goodness will come of itself. The little child learns to speak, though it has no learned teachers - because it lives with those who know how to speak."
Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "Your words are useless!"
Chuang Tzu said, "A man has to understand the useless before you can talk to him about the useful. The earth is certainly vast and broad, though a man uses no more of it than the area he puts his feet on. If, however, you were to dig away all the earth from around his feet until you reached the Yellow Springs,10 then would the man still be able to make use of it?"
"No, it would be useless," said Hui Tzu.
"It is obvious, then," said Chuang Tzu, "that the useless has its use."
Chuang. Tzu said, "If you have the capacity to wander, how can you keep from wandering? But if you do not have the capacity to wander, how can you wander? A will that takes refuge in conformity, behavior that is aloof and eccentric - neither of these, alas, is compatible with perfect wisdom and solid virtue. You stumble and fall but fail to turn back; you race on like fire and do not look behind you. But though you may be one time a ruler, another time a subject, this is merely a matter of the times. Such distinctions change with the age and you cannot call either one or the other lowly. Therefore I say, the Perfect Man is never a stickler in his actions.
"To admire antiquity and despise the present - this is the fashion of scholars. And if one is to look at the present age after the fashion of Hsi-wei, then who can be without prejudice? 11 Only the Perfect Man can wander in the world without taking sides, can follow along with men without losing himself. His teachings are not to be learned, and one who understands his meaning has no need for him. 12
"The eye that is penetrating sees clearly, the ear that is penetrating hears clearly, the nose that is penetrating distinguishes odors, the mouth that is penetrating distinguishes flavors, the mind that is penetrating has understanding, and the understanding that is penetrating has virtue. In all things, the Way does not want to be obstructed, for if there is obstruction, there is choking; if the choking does not cease, there is disorder; and disorder harms the life of all creatures.
"All things that have consciousness depend upon breath. But if they do not get their fill of breath, it is not the fault of Heaven. Heaven opens up the passages and supplies them day and night without stop. But man on the contrary blocks up the holes. The cavity of the body is a many-storied vault; the mind has its Heavenly wanderings. But if the chambers are not large and roomy, then wife and mother-in-law will fall to quarreling. If the mind does not have its Heavenly wanderings, then the six apertures of sensation will defeat each other.
"The great forests, the hills and mountains excel man in the fact that their growth is irrepressible. [In man] virtue spills over into a concern for fame, and a concern for fame spills over into a love of show. Schemes are laid in time of crisis; wisdom is born from contention; obstinacy comes from sticking to a position; government affairs are arranged for the convenience of the mob.13 In spring, when the seasonable rains and sunshine come, the grass and trees spring to life, and the sickles and hoes are for the first time prepared for use. At that time, over half the grass and trees that had been pushed over begin to grow again, though no one knows why.
"Stillness and silence can benefit the ailing, massage can give relief to the aged, and rest and quiet can put a stop to agitation. But these are remedies which the troubled and weary man has recourse to. The man who is at ease does not need them and has never bothered to ask about them. The Holy Man does not bother to ask what methods the sage uses to reform the world. The sage does not bother to ask what methods the worthy man uses to reform the age. The worthy man does not bother to ask what methods the gentleman uses to reform the state. The gentleman does not bother to ask what methods the petty man uses to get along with the times.
"There was a man of Yen Gate who, on the death of his parents, won praise by starving and disfiguring himself, and was rewarded with the post of Official Teacher. The other people of the village likewise starved and disfigured themselves, and over half of them died. Yao offered the empire to Hsu Yu and Hsu Yu fled from him. T'ang offered it to Wu Kuang and Wu Kuang railed at him. When Chi T'o heard of this, he took his disciples and went off to sit by the K'uan River, where the feudal lords went to console him for three years. Shen-t'u Ti for the same reason jumped into the Yellow River. 14
"The fish trap exists because of the fish; once you've gotten the fish, you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit; once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning; once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word with him?"