skull, and placing it under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the night, he dreamt that the skull appeared to him and said, "You speak well, Sir; but all you say has reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles. In death there are none of these. Would you like to hear about death?"
Chuang Tzŭ having replied in the affirmative, the skull began:—"In death, there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The workings of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are bounded only by eternity. The happiness of a king among men cannot exceed that which we enjoy."
Chuang Tzŭ, however, was not convinced, and said, "Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and to the friends of your youth,—would you be willing?"
At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said, "How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mortality?"
- Reminding us strangely of Hamlet.
When Yen Yüan
- See p. 179.
went eastwards to the Ch'i State, Confucius was sad. Tzŭ Kung arose and said, "Is it, Sir, because Hui
- Yen Yüan's personal name.
has gone east to Ch'i that you are sad?"