Wenzi was studying with Zhouzi while holding a position of prominence under the feudal lord Bao, but others who sought gain in his departure slandered him before Bao so that he lost his position. After a few days he addressed Zhouzi saying, "Master, my heart wants to forgive those who have slandered me, but my will is unable. You have taught that where there is no forgiveness there can be no harmony. What should I do?"
"Are you then a consummate man without fault?" asked Zhouzi.
"Master, though I have tried to do no harm, still I manage to cause discord with others and within myself," answered Wenzi. "In this my faults are few and small, yet still they fill my mind. I have no harmony and thus relentlessly fault myself that I do not, causing more disharmony still. What should I do?"
"These faults small and few are now your best friends. You cannot forgive these others, because you cannot forgive yourself," replied Zhouzi. "Where there is no forgiveness in one thing there is no forgiveness in everything. What is forgiveness but the affirmation of things? What is affirmation but embracing things just as they are? When you are acceptable, all things are acceptable. When you are self-affirmed all things are affirmed. When you are self-forgiven, all things are forgiven. Harmonize with yourself as you are. This is the true and universalizing forgiveness. I have taught you nothing else but this."
"Then is the consummate person not without fault?" asked Wenzi.
"The consummate person is she who recognizes fault everywhere, and most clearly in herself, yet does not allow it to be the definition of things. What is Dao but the affirmation of all things? What is there that cannot be unconditionally affirmed? This is the Great Openness, the echo of life with a resounding Yes!"
"Then to forgive the incidental, is hardly forgiveness at all!" exclaimed Wenzi. "True forgiveness covers all the world!"
"You have understood with your mind, and that is a worthy beginning" replied Zhouzi, "yet how it becomes true in you I cannot say."
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