The Yellow Emperor had ruled as Son of Heaven for nineteen years and his commands were heeded throughout the world, when he heard that Master Kuang Ch'eng was living on top of the Mountain of Emptiness and Identity. He therefore went to visit him. "I have heard that you, Sir, have mastered the Perfect Way. May I venture to ask about the essence of the Perfect Way?" he said. "I would like to get hold of the essence of Heaven and earth and use it to aid the five grains and to nourish the common people. I would also like to control the yin and yang in order to insure the growth of all living things. How may this be done?"One of the questions the religious form of Taoism seems over concerned with is longevity. How to live forever!
Master Kuang Ch'eng said, "What you say you want to learn about pertains to the true substance of things, but what you say you want to control pertains to things in their divided state. Ever since you began to govern the world, rain falls before the cloud vapors have even gathered, the plants and trees shed their leaves before they have even turned yellow, and the light of the sun and moon grows more and more sickly. Shallow and vapid, with the mind of a prattling knave - what good would it do to tell you about the Perfect Way!"
The Yellow Emperor withdrew, gave up his throne, built a solitary hut, spread a mat of white rushes, and lived for three months in retirement. Then he went once more to request an interview. Master Kuang Ch'eng was lying with his face to the south. The Yellow Emperor, approaching in humble manner, crept forward on his knees, bowed his head twice and said, "I have heard that you, Sir, have mastered the Perfect Way. I venture to ask about the governing of the body. What should I do in order to live a long life?"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
Well, nothing lives forever and so, if we desire to live forever too, then we should become nothing.
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