Yang Chu 300 B.C.
FAME AND VANITY
YANG CHU, when traveling in Lu, put up at Meng Sun Yang's.
Meng asked him: "A man can never be more than a man; why do people still trouble them-selves about fame?"
Yang Chu answered: "If they do so, their object is to become rich."
Meng : "And when they have become rich, why do they not stop?"
Yang Chu said: "They aim at getting honors." Meng: "Why then do they not stop when they have got them?"
Yang Chu : "On account of their death." Meng: "But what can they desire still after their death?"
Yang Chu: "They think of their posterity." Meng: "But how can their fame be available to their posterity?"
Yang Chu: "For fame's sake they endure all kinds of bodily hardship and mental pain. They dispose of their glory for the benefit of their clan, and even their fellow-citizens profit by it. How much more so do their descendants! Howbeit it becomes those desirous of real fame to be disinterested, and disinterestedness means poverty; and likewise they must be unostentatious, and this is equivalent to humble condition."
How then can fame be disregarded, and how can fame come of itself?
The ignorant, while seeking to maintain fame, sacrifice reality. By doing so, they will have to regret that nothing can rescue them from danger and death, and not only Learn the difference between ease and pleasure and sorrow and grief.
If anybody has real greatness, he is poor; if his greatness is spurious, he is rich.
The really good man is not famous; if he be famous, he is not really a good man, for all fame is nothing but falsehood.
One hundred years is the limit of a long life. Not one in a thousand ever attains to it. Yet if they do, still unconscious infancy and old age take up about half this time.
What then is the object of human life? What makes it pleasant? Comfort and elegance, music and beauty. Yet one cannot always gratify the desire for comfort and elegance, nor incessantly enjoy beauty and music.
Besides being warned and exhorted by punishments and rewards, urged forward and repelled by fame and Laws, men are constantly rendered anxious. Striving for one vain hour of glory, and providing for the splendor which is to survive their death, they go their solitary ways, analyzing what they hear with their ears and see with their eyes, and carefully considering what is good for body and mind; so they Lose the happiest moments of the present, and cannot really give way to these feelings for one hour.
If you pay no regard to life or death, and let them be as they are, how can you be anxious lest your life should end too soon?
Every trace of intelligent and stupid men, of the beautiful and ugly, successful and unsuccessful, right and wrong, is effaced. And whether quickly or slowly is the only point of difference.
If any one cares for one hour's blame or praise so much that, by torturing his spirit and body, he struggles for a name Lasting some hundred years after his death, can the halo of glory revive his dried bones, or give him back the joy of living?
If there were a body born complete, I could not possess it, and I could not possess things not to be parted with. For possessing a body or things would be unlawfully appropriating a body belonging to the whole universe and appropriating things belonging to the universe, which no Sage would do.
He who regards as common property a body appertaining to the universe and the things of the universe is a perfect man.
And that is the highest degree of perfection.
THE FOUR CHIMERAS
THERE are four things which do not allow people to rest: Long Life; Reputation; Rank; Riches.
Those who have them, fear ghosts, fear men, power and punishment. They are always fugitives. Whether they are killed or Live, they regulate their Lives by externals.
Those who do not set their destiny at defiance, do not desire a Long Life; and those who are not too fond of honor, do not desire reputation.
Those who do not want power, desire no rank.
Those who are not avaricious, have no desire for riches.