THE VANITY OF FAME
YANG CHU, when travelling in Lu, put up at Meng Sun Yang's.
Meng asked him: "A man can never be more than a man; why do people still trouble themselves about fame?"
Yang Chu answered: "If they do so their object is to become rich."
Meng: "But when they have become rich, why do they not stop?"
Yang Chu said: "They aim at getting honors."
Meng: "Why then do they not stop when they have got them?"
Yang Chu: "On account of their death."
Meng: "But what can they desire still after their death?"
Yang Chu: "They think of their posterity."
Meng: "How can their fame be available to their posterity?"
Yang Chu: "For fame's sake they endure all kinds of bodily hardship and mental pain. They dispose of their glory for the benefit of their clan, and even their fellow-citizens profit by it. How much more so do their descendants! It becomes those desirous of real fame to be disinterested, and disinterestedness means poverty; and likewise they must be unostentatious, and this is equivalent to humble condition."
How then can fame be disregarded, and how can fame come of itself?
The ignorant, while seeking to maintain fame, sacrifice reality. By doing so they will have to regret that nothing can rescue them from danger and death, and not only learn to know the difference between ease and pleasure and sorrow and grief.
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.