Page:Zhuang Zi - translation Giles 1889.djvu/29

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Note on the Philosophy of Chaps. i-vii.

mutilated criminal is judged by Lao Tzŭ to be a greater man than Confucius. For the criminal is mutilated in body by man, while Confucius, though men know it not, by the judgment of God is πεπηρωμένος πρὸς ἀρετήν.

This protest of Chuang Tzŭ against externality, and judging only by the outward appearance, might easily be translated into Christian language. For Christianity also teaches inwardness, and, in common with all idealism, resents the delimitation of human life and knowledge to "the things which are seen." In its opposition to a mere practical system like Confucianism, Taoism must have appealed to those deeper instincts of humanity to which Buddhism appealed some centuries later. In practice, Confucianism was limited to the finite. Action, effort, benevolence, unselfishness,—all these have a place in it, and their theatre is the world as we know it. Its last word is worldly wisdom; not selfishness, but an enlarged prudentialism. To the Taoist such a system savours of "the rudiments of the world." Its "charity and duty," its "ceremonies and music," are the "Touch not, taste not, handle not," of an ephemeral state of being, and perish in the using. And the sage seeks for the Absolute, the Infinite, the Eternal. He seeks to attain to Tao.

It is here that we reach (in chaps, vi, vii) what properly constitutes the mysticism of Chuang Tzŭ. Heracleitus is not a mystic, though he is the founder of a long line, which through Plato, and Dionysius the Areopagite and John the Scot in the ninth century, and Meister Eckhart in the thirteenth, and Jacob Böhme in the sixteenth, reaches down to Hegel. Heracleitus despises the world and shuns it; but he has not yet made flight from the world a dogma. Even Plato, when in a well-known passage in the Theaetetus,[1] he counsels flight from the present state of things, explains that he means only "flee from evil and become like God." Still less has Heracleitus got so far as to aim at self-absorption in God. In Greek thought the attempt to get rid of consciousness, and to become the unconscious vehicle of a higher illumination, is unknown till the time of Philo. Yet this is the teaching of Chuang Tzŭ. "The true sage takes his refuge in God, and learns that there is no distinction between subject and object. This is the very axis of Tao" (p. 18). Abstraction from self, then, is the road which leads to Tao (chap. vi). The pure of old did not love life and hate death. They were content to be passive vehicles of Tao. They had reached the state of sublime indifference,

  1. Theaet. 176. A. διὸ καὶ πειρᾶσθαι χρὴ ἐνθένδε ἐκεῖσε φεύγειν ὅ τι τάχιστα . φυγη δὲ ὁμοίωσις Θεῷ κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν . ὁμοίωσις δὲ δίκαιον καὶ ὅσιον μετὰ φρονήσεως γενέσθαι.