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Chuang Tzu - 400 B.C.


THOSE who would have right without its correlative, wrong, or good government without its correlative, misrule, they do not apprehend the great principles of the universe nor the conditions to which all creation is subject. One might as well talk of the existence of heaven without that of earth, or of the negative principle without the positive, which is clearly absurd.


IF you adopt, as absolute, a standard of evenness which is so only relatively, your results will not be absolutely even. If you adopt, as absolute, a criterion of right which is so only relatively, your results will not be absolutely right. Those who trust to their senses become slaves to objective existences. Those alone who are guided by their intuitions find the true standard. So far are the senses Less reliable than the intuitions. Yet fools trust to their senses to know what is good for mankind, with alas! but external results.


A DRUNKEN man who falls out of a cart, though he may suffer, does not die. His bones are the same as other people's, but he meets his accident in a different way. His spirit is in a condition of security. He is not conscious of riding in the cart; neither is he conscious of falling out of it. Ideas of life, death, fear, etc., can-not penetrate his breast; and so he does not fear from contact with objective existences

And if such security is to be got from wine, how much more is it to be got from God? It is in God that the Sage seeks his refuge, and so he is free from harm.


HE who knows what God is, and who knows what man is, has attained. Knowing what God is, he knows that he himself proceeded there-from. Knowing what man is, he rests in the knowledge of the known, waiting for the knowledge of the unknown. Working out one's allotted span, and not perishing in mid-career, --this is the fullness of knowledge.

Herein, however, there is a flaw. Knowledge is dependent upon fulfillment, and as this fulfillment is uncertain, how can it be known that my divine is not really human, my human really divine?

We must have pure men, and then only can we have pure knowledge.


A MAN must go wheresoever his parents bid him. Nature is no other than a man's parents. If she bid me die quickly, and I demur, then I am an unfilial son. She can do me no wrong. Tao gives me this form, this toil in manhood, this repose in old age, this rest in death. And surely, that which is such a kind arbiter of my Life is the best arbiter of my death.

How do I know that love of life is not a delusion after all? How do I know but that he who dreads to die is as a child who has lost its way and cannot find its home?


BUT whether or not we ascertain what are the functions of this soul, it matters but little to the soul itself. For, coming into existence with this mortal coil of mine, with the exhaustion of this mortal coil its mandate will also be exhausted. To be harassed by the wear and tear of life, and to pass rapidly through it without possibility of arresting one's course, - is this not pitiful indeed? To labor without ceasing, and then, without living to enjoy the fruit, worn out, to depart suddenly, one knows not whither, is not that a just cause for grief?


WHAT advantage is there in what men call not dying? The body decomposes and the mind goes with it. This is our real cause for sorrow. Can the world be so dull as not to see this? Or is it I alone who am dull, and others not so? . . . There is nothing which is not objective; there is nothing which is not subjective. But it is impossible to start from the objective. Only from subjective knowledge is it possible to proceed to objective knowledge. Hence it has been said: "The objective emanates from the subjective; the subjective is consequent upon the objective. This is the Alternation Theory." Nevertheless, when one is born, the other dies. When one is possible, the other is impossible. When one is affirmative, the other is negative. Which being the case, the true Sage rejects all distinctions of this and that. He takes his refuge in God, and places himself in subjective relation with all things.


LIFE follows upon death. Death is the beginning of life. Who knows when the end is reached? The life of man results from convergence of the vital fluid. Its convergence is life; its dispersion, death. If, then, life and death are but consecutive states, what need have I to complain?

Therefore all things are One. What we Love is animation. What we hate is corruption. But corruption in its turn becomes animation, and animation once more becomes corruption.

Predestination involves a real existence. Chance implies an absolute absence of any principle. To have a name and the embodiment thereof, this is to have a material existence. To have no name and no embodiment, of this one can speak and think; but the more one speaks, the farther off one gets.

The unborn creature cannot be kept from life. The dead cannot be tracked. From birth to death is but a span yet the secret cannot be known. Chance and predestination are but a priori solutions.


WHEN I seek for a beginning, I find only time infinite. When I Look forward to an end, I see only time infinite. Infinity of time past and to come implies no beginning and is in accordance with the Laws of material existences. Predestination and Chance give us a beginning, but one which is compatible only with the existence of matter.

A man's knowledge is limited; but it is upon what he does not know that he depends to extend his knowledge to the apprehension of God.

The ultimate end is God. He is manifested in the laws of nature. He is the hidden spring. At the beginning he was. This, however, is inexplicable. It is unknowable. But from the unknowable we reach the known.

A vulgar proverb says that he who has heard but part of the truth thinks no one equal to himself. And such a one am I.

"When formerly I heard people detracting from the Learning of Confucius or underrating the heroism of Poh I, I did not believe. But now that I have looked upon your inexhaustibility alas for me! had I not reached your abode, I should have been forever a laughingstock to those of comprehensive enlightenment!"

To which the Spirit of the Ocean replied : "You cannot speak of ocean to a well-frog, the creature of a narrower sphere. You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, a creature of a season. You cannot speak of Tao to a pedagogue,; his scope Is too restricted. But now that you have emerged from your narrow sphere and have seen the great ocean, you know your own insignificance, and I can speak to you of great principles."


DIMENSIONS are limitless; time is endless.

Conditions are not invariable; terms are not final. Thus the wise man looks into space, and does not regard the small as too little, nor the great as too much; for he knows that there is no limit to dimension. He looks back into the past, and does not grieve over what is far off, nor rejoice over what is near; for he knows that time is without end. He investigates fullness and decay, and does not rejoice if he succeeds, nor Lament if he fails; for he knows that conditions are not invariable. He who clearly apprehends the scheme of existence does not rejoice over life, nor repine at death; for he knows that terms are not final.


THE people have certain natural instincts: to weave and clothe themselves, to till and feed themselves. These are common to all humanity, and all are agreed thereon. Such instincts are called "Heaven-sent."

And so in the days when natural instincts prevailed, men moved quietly and gazed steadily. At that time, there were no roads over mountains, nor boats, nor bridges over water. All things were produced, each for its own proper sphere. Birds and beasts multiplied; trees and shrubs grew up.

The former might be led by the hand; you could climb up and peep in the raven's nest. For then man dwelt with birds and beasts, and all creation was one.

There were no distinctions of good and bad men. Being all equally without knowledge, their virtue could not go astray.

Being all equally without evil desires, they were in a state of natural integrity, the perfection of human existence.

But when Sages appeared, tripping up people over charity and fettering them with duty to their neighbor, doubt found its way into the world.

And then, with their gushing over music and fussing over ceremony, the empire became divided against itself.

When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples expressed a wish to give him a splendid funeral. But Chuang Tzu said: "With heaven and earth for my coffin and shell; with the sun, moon, and stars as my burial regalia; and with all creation to escort me to the grave, are not my funeral paraphernalia ready to hand?"

"We fear," argued the disciples, "lest the carrion kite should eat the body of our master;" to which Chuang Tzu replied: "Above ground I shall be food for kites; below I shall be food for mole-crickets and ants. Why rob one to feed the other?"

A man who knows that he is a fool is not a great fool.

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.

Get rid of small wisdom, and great wisdom will shine upon you.

Put away goodness, and you will be naturally good. A child does not learn to speak because taught by professors of the art, but because it lives among people who can themselves speak.

The best language is that which is not spoken, the best form of action is that which is without deeds.

Spread out your knowledge, and it will be found to be shallow.

The perfect man ignores self; the divine man ignores action; the true Sage ignores reputation.


THE perfect man is a spiritual being. Were the ocean itself scorched up, he would not feel hot. Were the Milky Way frozen hard, he would not feel cold. Were the mountains to be riven with thunder, and the great deep to be thrown up by storm, he would not tremble.

Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end.

Let knowledge stop at the unknowable. That is perfection.

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