Nan-Jung Chu packed up his provisions and journeyed for seven days and seven nights until he came to Lao Tzu's place. Lao Tzu said, "Did you come from Keng-sang Ch'u's place?"We each carry so much psychological baggage with us. It is almost like our ghosts crowd us out!
"Yes Sir," said Nan-Jung Chu.
"Why did you come with all this crowd of people?" asked Lao Tzu.
Nan-Jung Chu, astonished, turned to look behind him.
"Don't you know what I mean?" asked Lao Tzu.
Nan-Jung Chu hung his head in shame and then, looking up with a sigh, said, "Now I've even forgotten the right answer to that, so naturally I can't ask any questions of my own."
"What does that mean?" asked Lao Tzu.
"If I say I don't know, then people call me an utter fool," said Nan-Jung Chu. "But if I say I do know, then on the contrary I bring worry on myself. If I am not benevolent, I harm others; but if I am benevolent, then on the contrary I make trouble for myself. If I am not righteous, I do injury to others; but if I am righteous, then on the contrary I distress myself. How can I possibly escape from this state of affairs? It is these three dilemmas that are harassing me, and so, through Keng-sang Chu's introduction, I have come to beg an explanation."
Lao Tzu said, "A moment ago, when I looked at the space between your eyebrows and eyelashes, I could tell what kind of person you are. And now what you have said confirms it. You are confused and crestfallen, as though you had lost your father and mother and were setting off with a pole to fish for them in the sea. You are a lost man - hesitant and unsure, you want to return to your true form and inborn nature but you have no way to go about it - a pitiful sight indeed!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.