saying, "What should this man know of decorum indeed?"
- Not the outward decorum of the body, but the inward decorum of the heart.
Tzŭ Kung went back and told Confucius, asking him, "What manner of men are these? Their object is nothingness and a separation from their corporeal frames.
- Various commentators give various renderings of this sentence,—mostly forced.
They can sit near a corpse and yet sing, unmoved. There is no class for such. What are they?"
"These men," replied Confucius, "travel beyond the rule of life. I travel within it. Consequently, our paths do not meet; and I was wrong in send-you to mourn. They consider themselves as one with God, recognising no distinctions between human and divine. They look on life as a huge tumour from which death sets them free. All the same they know not where they were before birth, nor where they will be after death. Though admitting different elements, they take their stand upon the unity of all things. They ignore their passions. They take no count of their ears and eyes. Backwards and forwards through all eternity, they do not admit a beginning or end. They stroll beyond the dust and dirt of mortality, to wander in the realms of inaction. How should such men trouble themselves with the conventionalities of this world, or care what people may think of them?"