THE NATURE OF MAN
YANG CHU said:
"Men resemble heaven and earth in that they cherish five principles. Of all creatures, man is the most skilful. His nails and teeth do not suffice to procure him maintenance and shelter. His skin and sinews do not suffice to defend him; though running he cannot attain profit nor escape harm, and he has neither hair nor feathers to protect him from the cold and heat. He is thus compelled to use things to nourish his nature, to rely on his intelligence, and not to put his confidence in brute force; therefore intelligence is appreciated because it preserves us and brute force despised because it encroaches upon things.
"But I am not the owner of my own body, for I, when I am born, must complete it, nor do I possess things, for having got them, I must part with them again. The body is essential for birth, but things are essential for its maintenance.
"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 of the universe is a perfect man.
"And that is the highest degree of perfection."
Translator of Yang Zhu's Garden of Pleasure is Anton Forke. If you missed any posts in this series, please utilize the Yang Zhu label below.