Open main menu
 

CHAPTER XIV.

The Circling Sky.

Argument:—The Ultimate Cause—Integrity of Tao—Music and Tao—Failure of Confucianism—Confucius and Lao Tzŭ—Confucius attains to Tao—Illustrations.

[This chapter is supplementary to ch. v.]

THE sky turns round; the earth stands still; sun and moon pursue one another. Who causes this? Who directs this? Who has leisure enough to see that such movements continue?

"Some think there is a mechanical arrangement which makes these bodies move as they do. Others think that they revolve without being able to stop.

"The clouds cause rain; rain causes clouds. Whose kindly bounty is this? Who has leisure enough to see that such, result is achieved?

"Wind comes from the north. It blows now east, now west; and now it whirls aloft. Who puffs it forth? Who has leisure enough to be flapping it this way or that? I should like to know the cause of all this."

We are not told the name of this questioner.

Wu Han Chao

An ancient worthy.

said, "Come here, and I will tell you. Above there are the Six Influences

The Yin and Yang principles, wind, rain, darkness, and light; as in ch. xi.
Some commentators read, the "Six Cardinal Points," viz.: N., E., S., W., above, and below.

and the Five Virtues.

Charity, duty to one's neighbour, order, wisdom, and truth.

If a ruler keeps in harmony with these, his rule is good; if not, it is bad. By following the nine chapters of the Lo book.

Containing a mystic revelation of knowledge in the form of a diagram, supposed to have been delivered to one of the legendary rulers of China more than 2,000 years before the Christian era.

his rule will be a success and his virtue complete; he will watch over the interests of his people, and all the empire will owe him gratitude. This is to be an eminent ruler."

"A very round answer," says Lin Hsi Chung, "to a very square question."

Tang, a high official of Sung, asked Chuang Tzŭ about charity. Chuang Tzŭ said, "Tigers and wolves have it."

"How so?" asked Tang.

"The natural love between parents and offspring," replied Chuang Tzŭ,—"is not that charity?"

Tang then inquired about perfect charity.

"Perfect charity," said Chuang Tzŭ, "does not admit of love for the individual."

It embraces all men equally. To love one person would imply at least the possibility of hating another. See also p. 167, where Lao Tzŭ refutes the doctrine of universal love.

"Without such love," replied Tang, "it appears to me there would be no such thing as affection, and without affection no filial piety. Does perfect charity not admit of filial piety?"

"Not so," said Chuang Tzŭ. "Perfect charity is the more extensive term. Consequently, it was unnecessary to mention filial piety. It was not that filial piety was omitted. It was merely not particularised.

"A man who travels southwards to Ying,

Capital of the Ch'u State.

cannot see Mount Ming in the north. Why? Because he is too far off.

"Therefore it has been said that it is easy to be respectfully filial, but difficult to be affectionately filial.

The artificial is easier than the natural.

But even that is easier than to become unconscious of one's natural obligations, which is in turn easier than to cause others to be unconscious of the operations thereof.

I.e. to be filial without letting others be conscious of the fact.

Similarly, this is easier than to become altogether unconscious of the world, which again is easier than to cause the world to be unconscious of one's influence upon it.

Such is perfect charity, which operates without letting its operation be known.

"True virtue does nothing, yet it leaves Yao and Shun far behind. Its good influence extends to ten thousand generations, yet no man knoweth it to exist. What boots it then to sigh after charity and duty to one's neighbour?

"Filial piety, fraternal love, charity, duty to one's neighbour, loyalty, truth, chastity, and honesty,—these are all studied efforts, designed to aid the development of virtue. They are only parts of a whole.

"Therefore it has been said, 'Perfect honour includes all the honour a country can give. Perfect wealth includes all the wealth a country can give. Perfect ambition includes all the reputation one can desire.' And by parity of reasoning, Tao does not admit of sub-division."

 

Pei Mên Ch'êng;

Of whom nothing is recorded.

said to the Yellow Emperor, "When your Majesty played the Han-ch'ih

Name of a piece of music, the meaning of which is not known.

in the wilds of Tung-t'ing, the first time I heard it I was afraid, the second time I was amazed, and the last time I was confused, speechless, overwhelmed."

"You are not far from the truth," replied the Yellow Emperor. "I played as a man, drawing inspiration from God. The execution was punctilious, the expression sublime.

"Perfect music first shapes itself according to a human standard; then it follows the lines of the divine; then it proceeds in harmony with the five virtues; then it passes into spontaneity. The four seasons are then blended, and all creation is brought into accord. As the seasons come forth in turn, so are all things produced. Now fulness, now decay, now soft and loud in turn, now clear, now muffled, the harmony of Yin and Yang. Like a flash was the sound which roused you as the insect world is roused.

By the warm breath of spring.

followed by a thundering peal, without end and without beginning, now dying, now living, now sinking, now rising, on and on without a moment's break. And so you were afraid.

"When I played again, it was the harmony of the Yin and Yang, lighted by the glory of sun and moon; now broken, now prolonged, now gentle, now severe, in one unbroken, unfathomable volume of sound. Filling valley and gorge, stopping the ears and dominating the senses, adapting itself to the capacities of things,—the sound whirled around on all sides, with shrill note and clear. The spirits of darkness kept to their domain. Sun, moon, and stars, pursued their appointed course. When the melody was exhausted I stopped; if the melody did not stop, I went on.

The music was naturally what it was, independently of the player.

You would have sympathised, but you could not understand. You would have looked, but you could not see. You would have pursued, but you could not overtake. You stood dazed in the middle of the wilderness, leaning against a tree and crooning, your eye conscious of exhausted vision, your strength failing for the pursuit, and so unable to overtake me. Your frame was but an empty shell. You were completely at a loss, and so you were amazed.

"Then I played in sounds which produce no amazement, the melodious law of spontaneity, springing forth like nature's countless buds, in manifold but formless joy, as though poured forth to the dregs, in deep but soundless bass. Beginning nowhere, the melody rested in void; some would say dead, others alive, others real, others ornamental, as it scattered itself on all sides in never to be anticipated chords.

"The wondering world enquires of the Sage. He is in relation with its variations and follows the same eternal law.

"When no machinery is set in motion, and yet the instrumentation is complete, this is the music of God. The mind awakes to its enjoyment without waiting to be called. Accordingly, Yu Piao praised it, saying, 'Listening you cannot hear its sound; gazing you cannot see its form.

Yu Piao is said to have been one of the pre-historic rulers of China. Readers of the Tao-Tê-Ching (ch. xiv) will here find another nail for the coffin of that egregious fraud. See The Remains of Lao Tzŭ, p. 14. Also ch. xxii of this work.

It fills heaven and earth. It embraces the six cardinal points.' Now you desired to listen to it, but you were not able to grasp its existence. And so you were confused.

"My music first induced fear; and as a consequence, respect. I then added amazement, by which you were isolated.

From consciousness of your surroundings.

And lastly, confusion; for confusion means absence of sense, and absence of sense means Tao, and Tao means absorption therein."

 

When Confucius travelled west to the Wei State, Yen Yüan

The "John" among the disciples of Confucius. He closed a pure and gentle life at the early age of 32, to the inexpressible grief of the Sage.

asked Shih Chin,

Chief musician of the Lu State.

saying, "What think you of my Master?"

"Alas!" replied Shih Chin, "he is not a success."

"How so?" enquired Yen Yüan.

"Before the straw dog has been offered in sacrifice," replied Shih Chin, "it is kept in a box, wrapped up in an embroidered cloth, and the augur fasts before using it. But when it has once been offered up, passers-by trample over its body, and fuel-gatherers pick it up for burning. Then, if any one should take it, and again putting it in a box and wrapping it up in an embroidered cloth, watch and sleep alongside, he would not only dream, but have nightmare into the bargain.

The thing being uncanny. From which it would appear that the use of the straw dog was to induce dreams of future events.

"Now your Master has been thus treating the ancients, who are like the dog which has already been offered in sacrifice. He causes his disciples to watch and sleep alongside of them. Consequently, his tree

Beneath which he used to teach.

has been cut down in Sung; they will have none of him in Wei; in fact, his chances among the Shangs and the Chous are exhausted. Is not this the dream? And then to be surrounded by the Ch'êns and the Ts'ais, seven days without food, death staring him in the face,—is not this the nightmare?

"For travelling by water there is nothing like a boat. For travelling by land there is nothing like a cart. This because a boat moves readily in water; but were you to try to push it on land you would never succeed in making it go.

Be in harmony with your surroundings.

Now ancient and modern times may be likened unto water and land; Chou and Lu to the boat and the cart. To try to make the customs of Chou succeed in Lu, is like pushing a boat on land: great trouble and no result, except certain injury to oneself. Your Master has not yet learnt the doctrine of non-angularity, of self-adaptation to externals.

"Have you never seen a well-sweep? You pull it, and down it comes. You release it, and up it goes. It is the man who pulls the well-sweep, and not the well-sweep which pulls the man; so that both in coming down and going up, it does not run counter to the wishes of the man. And so it was that the ceremonial and obligations and laws of the Three Emperors and Five Rulers did not aim at uniformity of application but at good government of the empire. Their ceremonial, obligations, laws, etc., were like the cherry-apple, the pear, the orange, and the pumelo,—all differing in flavour but each palatable. They changed with the changing season.

"Dress up a monkey in the robes of Chou Kung,

See ch. iv.

and it will not be happy until they are torn to shreds. And the difference between past and present is much the same as the difference between Chou Kung and a monkey.

"When Hsi Shih

A famous beauty of old.

was distressed in mind, she knitted her brows. An ugly woman of the village, seeing how beautiful she looked, went home, and having worked herself into a fit frame of mind, knitted her brows. The result was that the rich people of the place barred up their doors and would not come out, while the poor people took their wives and children and departed elsewhere. That woman saw the beauty of knitted brows, but she did not see wherein the beauty of knitted brows lay.

In suitability to the individual.

Alas! your Master is emphatically not a success."


Confucius had lived to the age of fifty-one without hearing Tao, when he went south to P'ei, to see Lao Tzŭ.

Lao Tzŭ said, "So you have come, Sir, have you? I hear you are considered a wise man up north. Have you got Tao?"

"Not yet," answered Confucius.

"In what direction," asked Lao Tzŭ, " have you sought for it?"

"I sought it for five years," replied Confucius, "in the science of numbers, but did not succeed."

"And then? . . . ." continued Lao Tzŭ.

"Then," said Confucius, "I spent twelve years seeking for it in the doctrine of the Yin and Yang, also without success."

"Just so," rejoined Lao Tzŭ. "Were Tao something which could be presented, there is no man but would present it to his sovereign, or to his parents. Could it be imparted or given, there is no man but would impart it to his brother or give it to his child. But this is impossible, for the following reason. Unless there is a suitable endowment within, Tao will not abide. Unless there is outward correctness, Tao will not operate. The external being unfitted for the impression of the internal, the true Sage does not seek to imprint. The internal being unfitted for the reception of the external, the true Sage does not seek to receive.

Attempting neither to teach nor to learn.

"Reputation is public property; you may not appropriate it in excess. Charity and duty to one's neighbour are as caravanserais established by wise rulers of old; you may stop there one night, but not for long, or you will incur reproach.

"The perfect men of old took their road through charity, stopping a night with duty to their neighbour, on their way to ramble in transcendental space. Feeding on the produce of non-cultivation, and establishing themselves in the domain of no obligations, they enjoyed their transcendental inaction. Their food was ready to hand; and being under no obligations to others, they did not put any one under obligation to themselves. The ancients called this the outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

"Those who make wealth their all in all, cannot bear loss of money. Those who make distinction their all in all, cannot bear loss of fame. Those who affect power will not place authority in the hands of others. Anxious while holding, distressed if losing, yet never taking warning from the past and seeing the folly of their pursuit,—such men are the accursed of God.

"Resentment, gratitude, taking, giving, censure of self, instruction of others, power of life and death,—these eight are the instruments of right; but only he who can adapt himself to the vicissitudes of fortune, without being carried away, is fit to use them. Such a one is an upright man among the upright. And he whose heart is not so constituted,—the door of divine intelligence is not yet opened for him."

 

Confucius visited Lao Tzŭ, and spoke of charity and duty to one's neighbour.

Lao Tzŭ said, "The chaff from winnowing will blind a man's eyes so that he cannot tell the points of the compass. Mosquitoes will keep a man awake all night with their biting. And just in the same way this talk of charity and duty to one's neighbour drives me nearly crazy. Sir! strive to keep the world to its own original simplicity. And as the wind bloweth where it listeth, so let Virtue establish itself. Wherefore such undue energy, as though searching for a fugitive with a big drum?

See p. 167.

"The snow-goose is white without a daily bath. The raven is black without daily colouring itself. The original simplicity of black and of white is beyond the reach of argument. The vista of fame and reputation is not worthy of enlargement. When the pond dries up and the fishes are left upon dry ground, to moisten them with the breath or to damp them with a little spittle is not to be compared with leaving them in the first instance in their native rivers and lakes."

Repeated from ch. vi.

On returning from this visit to Lao Tzŭ, Confucius did not speak for three days. A disciple asked him, saying, "Master, when you saw Lao Tzŭ, in what direction did you admonish him?"

"I saw a Dragon," replied Confucius, "—a Dragon which by convergence showed a body, by radiation became colour, and riding upon the clouds of heaven, nourished the two Principles of Creation. My mouth was agape: I could not shut it. How then do you think I was going to admonish Lao Tzŭ?"

Upon this Tzŭ Kung remarked, "Ha! then a man can sit corpse-like manifesting his dragon-power around, his thunder-voice heard though profound silence reigns, his movements like those of the universe? I too would go and see him."

More repetition, this time from ch. xi.

So on the strength of his connection with Confucius, Tzŭ Kung obtained an interview. Lao Tzŭ received him distantly and with dignity, saying in a low voice, "I am old, Sir. What injunctions may you have to give me?"

"The administration of the Three Kings and of the Five Rulers," replied Tzŭ Kung, "was not uniform; but their reputation has been identical. How then, Sir, is it that you do not regard them as Sages?"

"Come nearer, my son," said Lao Tzŭ. "What mean you by not uniform?"

"Yao handed over the empire to Shun," replied Tzŭ Kung; "and Shun to Yü. Yü employed labour, and T'ang employed troops. Wên Wang followed Chou Hsin and did not venture to oppose him. Wu Wang opposed him and would not follow. Therefore I said not uniform."

"Come nearer, my son," said Lao Tzŭ, "and I will tell you about the Three Kings and the Five Rulers.

"The Yellow Emperor's administration caused the affections of the people to be catholic. Nobody wept for the death of his parents, and nobody found fault.

All loved each other equally.

"The administration of Yao diverted the affections of the people into particular channels. If a man slew the slayer of his parents, nobody blamed him.

Filial affection began to predominate.

"The administration of Shun brought a spirit of rivalry among the people. Children were born after ten months' gestation; when five months old, they could speak; and ere they were three years of age,

Including gestation.

could already tell one person from another. And so early death came into the world.

A veritable anti-climax, hopelessly unworthy of either Lao Tzŭ or Chuang Tzŭ.

"The administration of Yü wrought a change in the hearts of the people. Individuality prevailed, and force was called into play. Killing robbers was not accounted murder; and throughout the empire people became sub-divided into classes. There was great alarm on all sides, and the Confucianists and the Mihists arose. At first the relationships were duly observed; but what about the women of to-day?

Meaning that in the olden days men could not marry before thirty, women before twenty, whereas now the State is cursed with early marriages. Or, according to Dr. Legge's view of a famous passage in the Book of Rites, that formerly it was shameful in men and women not to be married at the age of thirty and twenty, respectively, whereas now the State is cursed with late marriages.

"Let me tell you. The government of the Three Kings and Five Rulers was so only in name. In reality, it was utter confusion. The wisdom of the Three Kings was opposed to the brilliancy of the sun and moon above, destructive of the energy of land and water below, and subversive of the influence of the four seasons between.

More repetition. See ch. x. ad fin.

That wisdom is more harmful than a hornet's tail, preventing the very animals from putting themselves into due relation with the conditions of their existence,—and yet they call themselves Sages! Is not their shamelessness shameful indeed?"

At this Tzŭ Kung became ill at ease.

The whole of the above episode may without hesitation be written off as a feeble forgery.

Confucius said to Lao Tzŭ, "I arranged the Six Canons of Poetry, History, Rites, Music, Changes, and Spring and Autumn. I spent much time over them, and I am well acquainted with their purport. I used them in admonishing seventy-two rulers, by discourses on the wisdom of ancient sovereigns and illustrations from the lives of Chou and Shao. Yet not one ruler has in any way adopted my suggestions. Alas that man should be so difficult to persuade, and wisdom so difficult to illustrate."

"It is well for you, Sir," replied Lao Tzŭ, "that you did not come across any real ruler of mankind. Your Six Canons are but the worn-out foot-prints of ancient Sages. And what are foot-prints? Why, the words you now utter are as it were foot-prints. Foot-prints are made by the shoe: they are not the shoe itself.

"Fish-hawks gaze at each other with motionless eyes,—and their young are produced. The male of a certain insect chirps with the wind while the female chirps against it,—and their offspring is produced. There is another animal which, being an hermaphrodite, produces its own offspring. Nature cannot be changed. Destiny cannot be altered. Time cannot stop. Tao cannot be obstructed. Once attain to Tao, and there is nothing which you cannot accomplish. Without it, there is nothing which you can accomplish."

For three months after this Confucius did not leave his house. Then he again visited Lao Tzŭ and said, "I have attained. Birds lay eggs, fish spawn, insects undergo metamorphosis, and mammals suckle their young.

Lit. "when a younger brother comes, the elder cries,"—from which may be inferred the meaning in the translation.
The whole sentence signifies that every development proceeds according to fixed laws. It is useless to try to do anything. Nature is always self-similar.

For a long time I have not been enlightened. And he who is not enlightened himself,—how should he enlighten others?"

Lao Tzŭ said, "Ch'iu, you have attained!"

"The style of this chapter," says Lin Hsi Chung, "gives it a foremost place among the 'outside' essays of Chuang Tzŭ. But the insertion of that dialogue between Confucius and Lao Tzŭ on charity and duty towards one's neighbour is like eking out a sable robe with a dog's tail."