Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chapter 5, Part 2 - Chuang Tzu

Shen-t'u Chia, who had lost a foot, was studying under Pohun Wu-jen along with Tzu-ch'an of Cheng. Tzu-ch'an said to Shen-t'u Chia, "If I go out first, you stay behind, and if you go out first, I'll stay behind."

Next day the two of them were again sitting on the same mat in the small hall. Tzu-ch'an said to Shen-t'u Chia, "If I go out first, you stay behind, and if you go out first, I'll stay behind! Now I will go out. Are you going to stay behind or aren't you? When you see a prime minister, you don't even get out of the way - do you think you're the equal of a prime minister?"

Shen-t'u Chia said, "Within the gates of the Master, is there any such thing as a prime minister? You take delight in being a prime minister and pushing people behind you. But I've heard that if the mirror is bright, no dust settles on it; if dust settles, it isn't really bright. When you live around worthy men a long time, you'll be free of faults. You regard the Master as a great man, and yet you talk like this - it's not right, is it?"

Tzu-ch'an said, "You, a man like this - and still you claim to be better than a Yao! Take a look at your virtue and see if it's not enough to give you cause to reflect!"

Shen-t'u Chia said, "People who excuse their faults and claim they didn't deserve to be punished - there are lots of them. But those who don't excuse their faults and who admit they didn't deserve to be spared - they are few. To know what you can't do anything about, and to be content with it as you would with fate - only a man of virtue can do that. If you play around in front of Archer Yi's target, you're right in the way of the arrows, and if you don't get hit, it's a matter of fate.

"There are lots of men with two feet who laugh at me for having only one. It makes me boil with rage, but I come here to the Master's place and I feel calmed down again and go home. I don't know whether he washes me clean with goodness, or whether I come to understand things by myself. The Master and I have been friends for nineteen years and he's never once let on that he's aware I'm missing a foot. Now you and I are supposed to be wandering outside the realm of forms and bodies, and you come looking for me inside it - you're at fault, aren't you?"

Tzu-ch'an squirmed, changed his expression, and put a different look on his face. "Say no more about it," he said.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.