The understanding of the men of ancient times went a long way. How far did it go? To the point where some of them believed that things have never existed - so far, to the end, where nothing can be added. Those at the next stage thought that things exist. They looked upon life as a loss, upon death as a return - thus they had already entered the state of dividedness. Those at the next stage said, "In the beginning there was nonbeing. Later there was life, and when there was life suddenly there was death. We look upon nonbeing as the head, on life as the body, on death as the rump. Who knows that being and nonbeing, life and death are a single way? I will be his friend!"It would be nice not to be apprehensive of one's own death, to welcome it like a newborn child. But to do that fully, it would take a deep understanding of The Way and no one I know understands it completely. Lacking anywhere near full comprehension, it is natural to fear that which we do not understand. In fact, it is decidedly human.
These three groups, while differing in their viewpoint, belong to the same royal clan; though, as in the case of the Chao and Ching families,. whose names indicate their line of succession, and that of the Ch'i! family, whose name derives from its fief, they are not identical.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.