Page:Zhuang Zi - translation Giles 1889.djvu/26

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Chuang Tzŭ

destruction of knowledge. Even Socrates was called a Sophist because of his destructive criticism and his restless challenging of popular views. But Chuang Tzŭ has nothing of the sceptic in him. He is an idealist and a mystic, with all the idealist's hatred of a utilitarian system, and the mystic's contempt for a life of mere external activity. "The perfect man ignores self; the divine man ignores action; the true sage ignores reputation" (p. 5). The Emperor Yao would have abdicated in favour of a hermit, but the hermit replies that "reputation is but the shadow of reality," and will not exchange the real for the seeming. But greater than Yao and the hermit is the divine being who dwells on the mysterious mountain in a state of pure, passionless inaction.

For the sage, then, life means death to all that men think life, the life of seeming or reputation, of doing or action, of being or individual self-hood. This leads on to the "budget of paradoxes" in chap. 11. As in the moral and active region we escape from the world and self, and are able to reverse and look down upon the world's judgments, so in the speculative region we get behind and beyond the contradictions of ordinary thinking, and of speech which stereotypes abstractions. The sage knows nothing of the distinction between subjective and objective. It exists only ex analogiâ hominis. "From the standpoint of Tao" all things are one. People "guided by the criteria of their own mind," see only the contradiction, the manifoldness, the difference; the sage sees the many disappearing in the One, in which subjective and objective, positive and negative, here and there, somewhere and nowhere, meet and blend. For him, "a beam and a pillar are identical. So are ugliness and beauty, greatness, wickedness, perverseness, and strangeness. Separation is the same as construction: construction is the same as destruction" (pp. 19–20). The sage "blends everything into one harmonious whole, rejecting the comparison of this and that. Rank and precedence, which the vulgar prize, the sage stolidly ignores. The universe itself may pass away, but he will flourish still" (p. 29). "Were the ocean itself scorched up, he would not feel hot. Were the milky way frozen hard he would not feel cold. Were the mountains to be riven with thunder, and the great deep to be thrown up by storm, he would not tremble" (pp. 27–28).

Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinæ.

He is "embraced in the obliterating unity of God," and passing into the realm of the Infinite finds rest therein (p. 31).

It is impossible in reading this chapter on "The Identity of Contraries" not to be reminded of Heracleitus. The disparagement of sense knowledge,