Showing posts with label Chuang Tzu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chuang Tzu. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2012

How Un-Taoist of You!

Trey Smith


From time to time, someone leaves a comment here which states that one of our writers -- usually me! -- has written something that is -- dare I say it? -- un-Taoist. Most often these types of comments are in response to a post that criticizes, mocks or ridicules a different belief system.

To anyone who has ever left a comment of this nature, I have a question for you: Have you ever read the Zhuangzi (Book of Chuang Tzu)? Considered one of the two foundational texts of philosophical Taoism, the Zhuangzi criticizes, mocks and ridicules many of the other schools of thought of its day!

Many of the stories told feature Confucius or one of his disciples. Often, they are not presented as the learned person of the story, but as a fool. Chuang Tzu also takes a few swipes at the Mohists. In fact, one could easily posit that a good majority of the text of the Zhuangzi is a strong rebuke of the prevailing philosophies of that era.

So, when those of us writing on this blog criticize the prevailing attitudes extant in our modern world today, one could argue that we merely are following in the footsteps of Chuang Tzu.

Unless, of course, you think Chuang Tzu was un-Taoist!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What An Accomplishment!

We have come to the end of the serialized Book of Chuang Tzu. If you have read a good deal of the blog posts in this series, then you have read one of the great classics of Taoist literature. Give yourself a pat on the back!

This series began back on 2/3/11 and spanned almost 500 posts. My intention was to reduce the words of Chuang Tzu into bite-size pieces to make it more digestible for busy people. Compartmentalizing it in this way, of course, broke the flow of some of the stories, but I worked diligently not to stem the flow too much.

Tomorrow morning we will begin the process all over again as we explore the Book of Lieh Tzu as translated by Lionel Giles.

Chapter 33, Part 7H - Chuang Tzu

If we examine Hui Shih's accomplishments from the point of view of the Way of Heaven and earth, they seem like the exertions of a mosquito or a gnat - of what use are they to other things? True, he still deserves to be regarded as the founder of one school, though I say, if he had only shown greater respect for the Way, he would have come nearer being right. Hui Shih, however, could not seem to find any tranquility for himself in such an approach. Instead he went on tirelessly separating and analyzing the ten thousand things, and in the end was known only for his skill in exposition.

What a pity - that Hui Shih abused and dissipated his talents without ever really achieving anything! Chasing after the ten thousand things, never turning back, he was like one who tries to shout an echo into silence or to prove that form can outrun shadow.

How sad!
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 7G - Chuang Tzu

In the south there was an eccentric named Huang Liao who asked why Heaven and earth do not collapse and crumble, or what makes the wind and rain, the thunder and lightning. Hui Shih, undaunted, undertook to answer him; without stopping to think, he began to reply, touching upon every one of the ten thousand things in his peroration, expounding on and on without stop in multitudes of words that never ended.

But still it was not enough, and so he began to add on his astonishing assertions. Whatever contradicted other men's views he declared to be the truth, hoping to win a reputation for outwitting others. This was why he never got along with ordinary people. Weak in inner virtue, strong in his concern for external things, he walked a road that was crooked indeed!
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chapter 33, Part 7F - Chuang Tzu

Such were the sayings which the rhetoricians used in answer to Hui Shih, rambling on without stop till the end of their days. Huan Tuan and Kung-sun Lung were among such rhetoricians. Dazzling men's minds, unsettling their views, they could outdo others in talking, but could not make them submit in their minds - such were the limitations of the rhetoricians.

Hui Shih day after day used all the knowledge he had in his debates with others, deliberately thinking up ways to astonish the rhetoricians of the world - the examples above will illustrate this. Nevertheless, Hui Shih's manner of speaking showed that he considered himself the ablest man alive. "Heaven and earth - perhaps they are greater!" he used to declare. All he knew how to do was play the hero; he had no real art.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 7E - Chuang Tzu

No matter how swift the barbed arrow, there are times when it is neither moving nor at rest.

A dog is not a canine.

A yellow horse and a black cow make three.

White dogs are black.

The orphan colt never had a mother.

Take a pole one foot long, cut away half of it every day, and at the end of ten thousand generations there will still be some left.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 7D - Chuang Tzu

Pointing to it never gets to it; if it got to it, there would be no separation.

The tortoise is longer than the snake.

T squares are not right-angled; compasses cannot make circles.

Holes for chisel handles do not surround the handles.

The flying bird's shadow never moves.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chapter 33, Part 7C - Chuang Tzu

With savings such as these, Hui Shih tried to introduce a more magnanimous view of the world and to enlighten the rhetoricians. The rhetoricians of the world happily joined in with the following sayings:

An egg has feathers.

A chicken has three legs.

Ying contains the whole world.

A dog can be considered a sheep.

Horses lay eggs.

Toads have tails.

Fire is not hot.

Mountains come out of the mouth .

Wheels never touch the ground.

Eyes do not see.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 7B - Chuang Tzu

Great similarities are different from little similarities; these are called the little similarities and differences. The ten thousand things are all similar and are all different; these are called the great similarities and differences.

The southern region has no limit and yet has a limit.

I set off for Yueh today and came there yesterday.

Linked rings can be separated.

I know the center of the world: it is north of Yen and south of Yueh.

Let love embrace the ten thousand things; Heaven and earth are a single body.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 7A - Chuang Tzu

Hui Shih was a man of many devices and his writings would fill five carriages. But his doctrines were jumbled and perverse and his words wide of the mark. His way of dealing with things may be seen from these sayings:

The largest thing has nothing beyond it; it is called the One of largeness. The smallest thing has nothing within it; it is called the One of smallness.

That which has no thickness cannot be piled up; yet it is a thousand li in dimension.

Heaven is as low as earth; mountains and marshes are on the same level.

The sun at noon is the sun setting. The thing born is the thing dying.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter 33, Part 6B - Chuang Tzu

Above he wandered with the Creator, below he made friends with those who have gotten outside of life and death, who know nothing of beginning or end. As for the Source, his grasp of it was broad, expansive, and penetrating; profound, liberal, and unimpeded.

As for the Ancestor, he may be said to have tuned and accommodated himself to it and to have risen on it to the greatest heights.

Nevertheless, in responding to change and expounding on the world of things, he set forth principles that will never cease to be valid, an approach that can never be shuffled off. Veiled and arcane, he is one who has never been completely comprehended.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 6A - Chuang Tzu

Blank, boundless, and without form; transforming, changing, never constant: are we dead? are we alive? do we stand side by side with Heaven and earth? do we move in the company of spiritual brightness? absent-minded, where are we going? forgetful, where are we headed for? The ten thousand things ranged all around us, not one of them is worthy to be singled out as our destination - there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things.

Chuang Chou heard of their views and delighted in them. He expounded them in odd and outlandish terms, in brash and bombastic language, in unbound and unbordered phrases, abandoning himself to the times without partisanship, not looking at things from one angle only. He believed that the world was drowned in turbidness and that it was impossible to address it in sober language. So he used "goblet words" to pour out endless changes, "repeated words" to give a ring of truth, and "imputed words" to impart greater breadth.

He came and went alone with the pure spirit of Heaven and earth, yet he did not view the ten thousand things with arrogant eyes. He did not scold over "right" and "wrong," but lived with the age and its vulgarity. Though his writings are a string of queer beads and baubles, they roll and rattle and do no one any harm. Though his words seem to be at sixes and sevens, yet among the sham and waggery there are things worth observing, for they are crammed with truths that never come to an end.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Chapter 33, Part 5B - Chuang Tzu

Lao Tan said, "Know the male but cling to the female; become the ravine of the world. Know the pure but cling to dishonor; become the valley of the world." Others all grasp what is in front; he alone grasped what is behind. He said, "Take to yourself the filth of the world." Others all grasp what is full; he alone grasped what is empty. He never stored away - therefore he had more than enough; he had heaps and heaps of more than enough!

In his movement he was easygoing and did not wear himself out. Dwelling in inaction, he scoffed at skill. Others all seek good fortune; he alone kept himself whole by becoming twisted. He said, "Let us somehow or other avoid incurring blame!" He took profundity to be the root and frugality to be the guideline.

He said, "What is brittle will be broken, what is sharp will be blunted." He was always generous and permissive with things and inflicted no pain on others - this may be called the highest achievement.

The Barrier Keeper Yin and Lao Tan - with their breadth and stature, they indeed were the True Men of old!
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.