Main Wisdom of the Daoist Masters
Wisdom of the Daoist MastersLéon Wieger
Paperback on Daoist beliefs
WISDOM OF THE VAOlST MASTERS THE WORKS OF LAO ZI (LAO TZU) LIE ZI (LIEH TZU) ZHUANG ZI (CHUANG TZU) RENDERED INTO ENGLISH BY DEREK BRYCE FROM THE FRENCH OF LEON WIEGER'S LES PERES VU SYSTEME TAOISTE (CATHASIA, LES BELLES LETTRES, PARIS) Copyr ight © Derek Bryce 1984 All r ights rese r v e d . F i rs t pub l i shed i n G r e a t B r i t a i n i n 1984 b y L lanerch Enterpr i ses , L lanerch , F e l i n fach , L a m pe ter , Oy fed , Wales. -ISBN 0-94 7992-01-4 (boards ) ISBN 0-947992-02-2 ( l i m p ) Printed b y Cambr i an News, Aberystw yth . i i i C ONTENTS PREFACE v TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION ix LAO ZI, DAO DE JING 1 LIE ZI, CHONG HU CHEN JING: 1 Genesis And Transformation 41 2 Natural Simplicity 50 3 Psychical States 63 4 Extinction And Union 70 5 The Cosmic Continuum 78 6 Fate 90 7 Yang Zhu 97 8 Anecdotes 106 ZHUANG Zl, NAN HUA CHEN JING: 1 Towards The Ideal 117 2 Universal Harmony 121 3 Maintenance Of The Living Principle 127 4 The World Of Men 129 5 Perfect Action 135 6 The Principle, First Master 139 7 The Government Of Princes 147 8 Webbed Feet 150 9 Trained Horses 153 10 Thieves, Great And Small 155 11 True And False Politics 159 12 Heaven And Earth 166 13 Heavenly Influence 174 14 Natural Evolution 179 15 Wisdom And Incrustation 185 16 Nature And Convention 187 17 The Autumn Flood 189 18 Perfect Joy 197 19 The Meaning Of Life 201 20 Voluntary Obscurity 208 21 Transcendent Action 214 22 Knowledge Of The Principle 221 23 Return To Nature 229 24 Simplicity 236 25 Truth 245 26 Fate 252 27 Speech And Words 257 28 Independence 260 29 Politicians 267 30 Swordsmen 274 31 The Old Fisherman 276 32 Wisdom 280 33 Diverse Schools 285 INDICES: SUBJECT, ANECDOTES, NAMES 292 iv PREFACE. This volume contains what has come down to us from three Chinese Sages, Lao Zi, Lie Zi, and Zhuang Zi, who lived between the sixth and fourth centuries before the Christian era. Lao Zi, the Old Master, was a contemporary of Confucius. He probably lived between the dates 570 - 490 B.C. (the dates of Confucius being 552 - 479 B.C.). Nothing is historically certain about this man. The Daoist tradition says that he was the Zhou Court Librarian, and that he saw Confucius once, about 501 B.C. Weary of the lawlessness of the empire, he left it, and never came back. At the time of his crossing the Western Pass, he composed the celebrated work translated in this volume, for his friend Yin Xi, the Guardian of the Pass. The historian Sima Qian dedicated a short work to him around 100 B.C., saying that, according to some, the family name of the Old Master was Li, his ordinary first name Er, his noble first name Baiyang, and his posthumous name Dan (whence comes the posthumous name Lao Dan). But, adds the famous historian, who was, like his father, more than half Daoist, 'some say otherwise, and, of the Old Master, we can only be sure that, having loved obscurity above all, he deliberately covered up the traces of his life ' (Shi Ji, chapter 63). - I do not expound the legend of Lao Zi here, this volume being historical. Lie Zi, Master Lie, from the name Lie Yukou, Jived some forty years in obscurity and poverty in the Principality of Zheng. He was driven away by famine in 398 B. C. At that time his disciples could have written down the substance of his teaching. This is according to the Daoist tradition. It has often been strongly attacked, but the critics of the bibliographic index, Sikucuan Shu, judged that the writing should be upheld. Zhuang Zi, Master Zhuang, from his name Zhuang Zhou, is scarcely better known to us. He must have been in the decline of his life towards 330 B.C. Sima Qian describes him as 'very learned' (Shi Ji, appendix). He voluntarily spent his life in obscurity and poverty, fighting with verve against the theories and abuses of his times. · It is therefore between the dates 500 and 330 B.C. that the for mation of the ideas contained in this volume should be placed. I say the ideas, not the writings; and this is why: The tradition affirms formally that Lao Zi wrote. A careful examination of his work seems to confirm the tradition. It is clearly a tirade, all in one breath, the author returning to the beginning when he wanders; a series of points and maxims, rather than a coherent edition; a statement by a man who is precise, clear, and profound; who takes up points again, and retouches them with insistence. Originally the work was divided neither into books nor chapters. The division v Preface. was made later, and fairly clumsily. - An examination of the two treatises bearing the names of Lie Zi and Zhuang Zi gives evidence that these men did not write. They are made up of a collection of notes brought together by listeners, often with variance and errors, then collated, jumbled and reclassified by copyists, and interpolated by non-Oaoist hands so well that, in the present text, there are some pieces diametrically opposed to the certain doctrine of the authors. The chapters are the work of later collators who brought together parts which were more or less similar. Several were put in complete disorder by the accident which muddled so many old Chinese writings, the breaking of the tie of a bundle of laths, and the mixing up of the latter. - Note that these treatises were not included in the destruction of books in 213 B.C. The doctrine of these three authors is one. Lie Zi and Zhuang Zi develop Lao Zi and claim to take his ideas back to Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), the founder of the Chinese Empire. These ideas are quite close to those of India of the contemporary period, the age of the Upanishads; a realist, non-idealist pantheism. In the beginning was Dao, the Principle, described as imperceptible like tenuous matter, motionless at first. One day this Principle produced De, its Virtue, which acted in two alternative modes, yin and yang, producing, as if by condensation, heaven and earth and the air between them, unconscious agents of of the production of all sentient beings. These sentient beings come an go along the thread of a circular evolution, birth, growth, decline, death, rebirth , and so on. Although the Sovereign Above of the Annals and the Odes is not expressly denied, He is by-passed and ignored in a way which is tantamount to a denial. Man has no other origin than the multitude of beings. He is more successful than the others, that is all. And he is man for this time only. After his death, he re-enters into some new existence, not necessarily human, even not necessarily animal or plant. This is transformism in the widest sense of the word. - The Sage makes his life last, through temperance, mental peace, abstention from all that causes fatigue or wear. That is why he keeps himself in obscurity and retreat. If he is drawn from it by force of circumstances, he governs and administers after the same principles, without tiring or wearing himself out, doing the least possible; preferably nothing at all, in order not to hinder the rotation of the cosmic wheel, universal evolution. The Sage lives in apathy through abstraction, looking at everything from so high, so far, that aJJ appears fused into one, so there are no longer any details, individuals, and in consequence there is neither interest nor passion. Above all the Sage has no system, rule, art, .morality. There is neither good nor evil, nor sanctions. The Sage foJJows his natural instincts, Jets the world go day by day, and evolves with the great whole. Preface. The following points remain to be no ted, for a just understanding of the contents of this volume. Many of the characters used by the ancient Daoists should be taken in their original etymological meaning which has since fallen into disuse or become rare. Thus Dao De Jing does not mean 'Treatise on the Way and Virtue' (meanings derived from modern usage of Dao and De), but 'Treatise on the Principle and its Action' (from the ancient meanings). None of the facts alleged by Lie Zi and above all by Zhuang Zi are of historical value. The men they name are no more real than the personified abstractions they put on stage. They are oratory procedures, and nothing more. Above all one should guard oneself from taking the assertions of Confucius, which have been invented at will, as real. Some badly informed authors have already fallen into this error, and in good faith imputed to the Sage what his critic Zhuang Zi lent him in order to ridicule him. Confucius, the butt of Zhuang Zi, is shown in three postures. - First, as the author of conventionalism and destroyer of naturalism; and in consequence the sworn opponent of Daoism. This is the true note. These texts are all authentic. - Second, as converted and preaching more or less pure Daoism to his own disciples. This is fiction, ingeniously constructed to make even the discourses of the Master himself show the insufficiency of Confucianism and the advantages of Daoism. These are authentic texts, but one should guard oneself from imputing them to Confucius. - Third, a few purely Confucian texts are interpolations. I note them all. Likewise the paragons of the Confucian system, the Yellow Emper or, Yao, Shun, the Great Yu, and others, are shown in three pos tures. - First, abhorred as authors or falsifiers of artificial civil ization. This is the true note; these are authentic texts. - Second, praised for a particular point, common to Confucians and Daoists. These texts also are authentic. - Third, praised in general, without restriction. These are Confucian interpolations. They are not numerous, and I point them out. - I think further that, where the text gives the impression of more than one Yao, or Shun, these are errors made by copyists who have written down one character for another. It is not known at what date the work of Lao Zi was named Dao De Jing. This name already figured in Huai Nan Zi, in the second century B.C. - In 742 A.D. Emperor Huan Zhong, of the Tang dynasty , gave the treatise of Li Zi the title of Chong Hu Chen Jing, 'Treatise of the Transcendent Master of the Void;' and v i i Preface. the treatise of Zhuang Zi the title Nan Hua Chen Jing, 'Treatise of the Transcendent Master from Nan Hua' (named after the place where Zhuang Zi could have lived), the two authors having received the title of Zhen Ren, transcendent men. The Dao De Jing is often also entitled Dao De Zhen Jing since that time. There are notes clarifying difficult passages, either in the text, or as footnotes. For personal names look in the index of names* at the end of the volume. - The letters TH refer to my 'Textes Historiques.' I have tried to make my translation as easy to read as possible, without harming the fidelity of interpretation. For my aim is to put these old thoughts, which have so many times been thought again by others, and taken by them as new, within the reach of all thinkers. Xian Xian (He Jian Fu) 2nd . April 1913. Dr. Leon Wieger S.J. *This index gi ves Pinyin, Wade-Gi les, and Wieger's E FE 0 names. On ly the more important names are inc luded. In most cases transcription of Wieger ' s names and their Wade-Gi les equiva lent g ives an identical result in Pinyin. However there are occasional d i f ferences, due either to a difference of opinion on the pronun ciat ion of Chinese names, or the use of alternative names. Where such variat ions occur, the Pinyin spell ing has genera l ly , but not a lways, been der i ved from the Wade-Giles alternat ive. For example Mo Zi has been used throughout, der i ved from the Wade -Giles Mo-t zu, instead of Wieger's Mei -ti. L ikew ise, rather than transcribe Wieger's Hoang-ti into Pinyin, we have used the name ' Yel low Emperor' which is already famil iar to readers of Wade-Gi les texts. Readers shou ld note that the title of emperor is used loosely to include ru lers from before the time of the Chinese Empire. Although Dr. Wleger's other publ ished works ( Textes H istor iques, etc.) are no longer easily avai lable, his footnotes re ferring to them have been retained for the sake of completeness. TRANSLATOR •s INTRODUCTION. leon Wieger spent a major part of his adult life in China. His classic translations of the Daoist writings are amongst the most understandable that have ever been produced. The quality of his work gives evidence of his exceptional penetration of the Chinese way of thought. The clarity and precision of his work must also be attributed to his careful study of the traditional Chinese commen taries, his recognition that key words such as Dao (the Principle) should be translated according to their ancient meanings, and his choice of unambiguous descriptive terms such as the Sage, trans cendent man, etc. Dr Wieger's explanatory additions to the work include footnotes, separate commentary summaries, and additions to the text which are clearly demarcated in parentheses or in italics. The French Publishers have reprinted the first edition of Dr. Wieger's book several times without making any corrections or modifications to his conclusions, 'out of respect for his thought.' The present English language translation is of the complete first edition, unmodified, except that Chinese names have been put in the modern Pinyin spelling. However, as it is now a long time since the first edition was published, a few comments are offered in this introduction. When Daoism and Confucianism are considered separately, they give the impression of being clear Jy opposed. This is the point of view taken by Dr. Wieger, expecially in his comments concerning the apparent Daoist negation of the Sovereign On High of the Annals and the Odes. His footnote to this effect (Zhuang Zi, chapter 2 B) is certainly correct, but the negation is of the concept of the Sovereign as a distinct material being.' When Daoism and Confucian ism are look on as having existed side by side during more than two thousand years of Chinese history, they are seen as complementary, forming the esoterism and exoterism of the Chinese Tradition. From this point of view it is more correct to see the Daoists as by-passing, rather than denying, the concept of the Sovereign. In Western terms, Dao, the Principle, equates with the metaphysical concept of the absolute, beyond being, or the monotheistic concept of the Most High (as in the Old Testament's 'Melchisedec •.. priest of the Most High God,' and the 'Most High' of the Koran). The Soveriegn equates with the metaphysical concept of 'being', (in monotheistic terms, God). In his preface Dr. Wieger points out that words and actions which are attributed to people from Chinese history should not be given a historical value. These writers used history as Shakespeare used it, to provide basic characters and events which could be used for purposes of literary illustration. Likewise references i x Translator's introduction. to geographical locations, and the human body, sometimes relate to the corporeal state, and sometimes to the psychical state. It is probably in the latter sense that the heart 'X-ray' (Lie Zi, chapter 4 H) and the reference to True Men breathing down to their toes (Zhuang Zi, chapter 6 B) should be taken. Since the time when Dr Wieger wrote his preface, experts are of the opinion that of the book of Zhuang Zi, the first seven chapters (known as the inner chapters) are the most authentic. Chapters 8 to 22 are known as the outer chapters, and the first three of these are regarded by some as including the work of an inferior (and volatile) author. These three chapters should not be taken out of the general context of the book as a whole, in which the Sage 'never acts unless constrained to do so,' and 'seeks obscurity and refrains from action' ... 'when times are politically bad.' Chapters 23 to 33 are known as the miscellaneous chapters. Interpolations apart, the writings in the outer and miscellaneous chapters are no doubt largely the work of members of Zhuang Zi's school, many possibly going back to the Master himself. Readers should note that the word 'being', when it refers to Dao, the Principle, considered in itself and outside manifestation, is in a sense inappropriate, since the absolute is beyond being. However, as Lao Zi says, 'words cannot describe it,' and recourse is therefore necessary to inappropriate terms leaving the reader to make the necessary mental transposition. - The word 'psychical' has been used instead of psychic, the dictionary definition of the former making it the more appropriate choice for this work. - The word 'evolution' is used in two senses. Firstly, and generally, to describe the unfolding of events in time and space, in this world (or universe). Secondly, but less frequently, it has been used to describe the progress of the being across successive lives or incarnations. - The word 'unnamable' has been used in its older sense, to describe that which is too superior to be given a name, although modern usage of this term is frequently derogatory . - To avoid confusion, the plural of genie has been written as genies, as the correct plural form, genii, is also one of the plural forms of genius. This is a book to read, and read again, not necessarily all at once, from cover to cover. There is something to be said for beginning with Lie Zi or Zhuang Zi, and ending with Lao Zi, since the condensed nature of the latter makes it the most difficult to understand. Derek Bryce September 1984 LAO Zl DAO DE liNG OR A TREATISE ON THE PRINCIPLE AND ITS ACTION Book 1 . Chapter 1 . Text. A. The pr inc ip le that can be enunc i a te d i s n o t the one that always was. The b e ing that can be named is n ot the o n e that was at a l l t imes. Be fore t ime , there was a n i n e ffab l e , u n n a m a b l e b e i n g . B. When i t w a s s t i l l unnamable, i t c o n c e i ve d h e a v e n a n d earth. When i t had thus become nama b l e , i t g a v e b i r t h to the mult i tude of be ings . C . These two acts are but one , under t w o diffe rent denom inat ions. The un i que act of gener a t i on; that is the m y s t e r y of the beg i nn ing; the mystery of myster i es; the door t h r o u g h wh i c h h a v e i ssued, on to the scene of the u n i verse , a l l the m a r v e l s w h i c h i t con t a i ns . D. The knowledge that man has o f t h e u n i versa l p r i n c i p l e depends on h i s s t a te of m i nd . The m i nd h a b i tua l l y f ree from pass i o n knows i ts myster ious essence . The h a b i t u a l l y p a ss i o n e d m i n d k n o ws o n l y i ts ef fects . Summary of commentaries. Before time, and throughout t ime, there has been a self-existing be ing, e ternal, infinite, comple te, omnipresent. This be ing cannot be named or spoken about, because human terms only apply to perceptible beings. Now the primordial being was primitively, and is st ill essentially, non-sentient, non-perceptible. Outside this be ing, before the beginning, there was nothing. It is referred to as 'wu,' without form, 'huan, ' mystery, or 'Dao,' the Principle. The period when there was not as yet any sentient being, when the essence alone of the Principle existed, is called 'xian tian,' before heaven. This essence possessed two immanent properties, the 'yin, ' concentration, and the 'yang,' expansion, which were exteriorized one day under the perceptible forms of heaven (yang) and earth (yin). Tha t day marked the beginning of t ime. From tha t day the Principle can be named by the double term of heaven and earth. The heaven-earth binomial em its all existent sentient beings. The heaven-earth binomial is called 'you,' sentient being, which through 'de,' the virtue of the Principle, genera tes all of i ts products tha t fill up the world. The period since heaven and earth were exteriorized is called 'hou tian, ' after heaven. The sta te yin of concentra t ion and rest, of imperceptibility, 1 Lao Zi. which was that of the Principle before time, is its inherent state. The state yang of expansion and action, of manifestation in sentient beings, is its state in time, in some ways inappropriate . To these two states of the Principle there corresponds , in the faculty of human awareness, rest and activity, or, put another way, empty and full. When the human mind produces ideas, is full of images, is moved by passion, then it is only able to know the effects of the Princ iple, dist inct perceptible beings. When the human mind, absolutely a rrested, is completely empty and calm, i t is a pure and clear mirror, capable o f refle cting the ineffable and unnamable essence of the Principle itself. - Compare with chapter 32. Chapter 2. Text. A. Everyone has the i dea o f be auty, and from that (by oppos i t i on ) that of not beaut i fu l (u g l y ) . All men h a v e the idea of good, and from that (by contrast ) that of not good (bad ) . Thus , b e i ng and nothingness, d i f f icu l t and easy, long and sho r t , h i gh and low, sound and tone, before and after, ar e corre l a t i ve i deas , one of which , i n be ing known , reveals the other . B. That be ing so, the Sage serves w i t h o u t ac ting and teaches without speak ing . C. He lets a l l be i ngs become , wit hout thwar t i n g them, he le t s them l i ve , w i thout monopo l i z i ng them, a n d l e ts them a c t , w i thout expl o i t i ng the m . D. H e does not a t t r i b u te to himself the e f fects p r o d u c e d , and in consequence these effects las t . Summary of commentaries. Correla tives, opposites, contraries, such as yes and no, ha ve all entered into this world through the co m m on door and they have all come out of the one Principle (chapter 1 C). They are not subjective illusions of the human mind, but object ive sta tes, corresponding with the two alternative sta tes of the Principle, yin and yang, concentra tion and expansion. The profound reality, the Principle, remains always the same, essentially; but the alterna tion of its rest and movement creates the play of causes and effects, an incessant coming and go ing. The Sage le ts this play have its free course. He keeps himself from interfering e i ther by physical action or moral pressure . He guards himself from poking his finger into the meshwork of causes, into the perpetual movement of na tural evolut ion, out of fear of upse t t ing this complica ted and delica te mechanism. All tha t he does, when he does some thing, is to let his example be seen. He leaves to each a place in the sun, freedom, and personal accomplishments. 2 Lao Zi. He does not a t tribute to himself the general effect produced (of good government) which belongs to the ensemble of causes. In consequence this effect (of good order), not ha ving been made a targe t for the jea lousy or a mbition of others, has a chance of lasting. Chapter J. Text. A. Not mak ing any spe c i a l case of cleverness, of a b i l i t y , w i l l have the result that people w i l l no lon ge r push themse lves. Not to prize rare objects w i l l have the resu l t t h a t no one w ill cont inue to s tea l . To show noth ing as a l l u r i ng will have the effec t of put t i ng peopl e ' s hearts at rest . B. Therefore t h e po l i t ics o f Sages con s i s t s i n e mp t y i ng the m inds of men and fi l l i ng the ir stoma c hs , in w e a k e n i n g t he i r i n i t i a t i ve and strengthen ing the ir bones . The i r c o n s t a n t care i s to hold the peop le in ignorance and a p a t h y . C . T h e y make th i ngs s u c h t h a t c l e v e r p e o p l e d a re n o t ac t , for there is noth ing tha t cannot be s o r t e d o u t th rough the prac t i ce of non-act i on . Summary of commentaries. Al l emotion, every trouble, each pe rversion of the m ind, comes from i ts be ing put in com munication by the senses with attractive, a l luring exterior objects. The sight of the ostentation of the ne wly rich crea tes a mbi t ion. The sight of hoa rds of precious objects crea tes thieves. Suppress a l l obje cts capa ble of te mpting, or at least the knowledge of the m, and the world wi l l enjoy perfect peace. Make men into doci le and productive work horses; watch tha t when well-rested they do not think; hinder any initia tive, suppress any enterprise. Know ing nothing, men will not be envious, will not need surveillance, and they w i l l benefit the state. Chapter 4. Text. A. The Principle produces in a b u n d a n c e , b u t w i thou t f i l l i ng i tself up. B. Empty abyss , it seems to be ( is ) the ances tor (o r i g i n) o f a l l beings. C. It is peaceful, simple , modest , a m i a b l e . D. Spilling i tself ou t i n waves , i t s e e m s to r e m a i n ( i t rema ins) always the same. E. I do not know of whom i t i s the son (where i t comes from) . I t seems to have been (it was) before the Sovere ign . Lao Zi. Summary of commentaries. This important chapter is devoted to the description of the Prin ciple. Because of the abstract ion of the subject , and perhaps a lso through prudence, his conclusions shocking the anc ient Chinese traditions, the author uses three t imes the verb 'to seem' instead of the ca tegoric verb 'to be'. - He does not dec lare h imself on the quest ion of the origin of the Principle, but places it before tha t of the Sovereign of the Anna ls and the Odes. This Sovereign could not therefore be, for Lao Zi, a God crea tor, or governor, of the un iverse. The Sovereign is therefore, practica l ly, nega ted (or bypassed - see translator's introduction). - The Principle, in i tself, is l ike an immense a byss, l ike an infin i te spring. A l l sent ient beings are produced by i ts exterioriza tion, through i ts virtue operat ing in the heaven-earth binomia l . But sen tient beings, term ina t ions of the Principle, do not add to the principle, do no t make i t grea ter, do not fi l l it up, as is said in the text. Since they do not go outside i t , they do not diminish i t , nor empty i t, and the Principle rema ins a l ways the sa me. - Four qua l ities are a t t ributed to i t , which la ter on will often be put forwa rd for imi ta t ion by the Sage (for exa mple, chapter 56). These qua l i t ies are inadequately defined by the pos i t ive terms peaceful, simple, modest, amiable. The terms of the Chinese text are in fac t more complex: 'Be ing soft, without sharp corners or cutting edges; not being embroiled or co mpl ica ted; not dazzl ing, but shining with a tempered, somewha t dull, l ight; wi l l ingly sha ring the dust, the humbleness, of the common people . ' Chapter 5. Text. A. Heaven and earth are not good to the be ings tha t they produc e , b u t treat them l i ke straw dogs. B. L i ke heaven and earth, t he Sage i s not good for the people he governs, but treats them l i ke straw dogs. C. The betwi xt of heaven and ear th , seat o f the Pr inc ip l e , the place from where i ts v i rtue acts , i s l i k e a be l l ows, l i ke the bag of a bel l ows of wh ich heaven and ear th wou ld be the two boards, which empt ies i tsel f wi thout exhaus t i n g i tse l f, which moves i tse l f ex terna l l y wi thout cease . D. This is a l l that we can understand o f the Pr i nc ip le and o f i ts ac t i on as producer . To s e e k to de t a i l i t further us ing words and numbers would be a waste o f t i m e . Let us ho ld ourse l ves to th is grand idea. Summary of commentaries. There are two kinds of goodness: First there is goodness of a superior order, which loves the whole, and only loves the integral 4 Lao Zi. parts of this whole as integral parts, and not for themselves, nor for their own good. Second there is goodness of an inferior order, which loves individuals, in the mselves, and for the ir own good. Hea ven and earth, which produce a ll beings through the virtue of the Principle, produce the m unconsciously and are not good to them, says the text. They are good to the m from a superior goodness, not an inferior goodness, say the commenta tors. This comes back to saying tha t they trea t the m with a cold opportunism, envisaging only the universal good, not their particular good; making the m prosper if they are useful, suppressing the m when they are useless. This cold opportunism is expressed by the term 'straw dog.' In antiquity, at the head of funeral processions they carried figures of stra w dogs designed to take up all the unpleasant influences on the journey. Before the fune ral they were prepared with care and looked after because they would soon become useful. After the funeral they were destroyed because they had become unpleasant, s tuffed as they were with captive noxious influences, as Zhuang Zi tells us in chapter 14 D. - In government the Sage should act like heaven and earth. He should love the state and not its individuals. He should favour useful subjects, and suppress useless, hindering, or harmful subjects, opportunely, without any other consideration. The history of China is full of applications of this principle. Such a m inister, cherished for a long time, was suddenly executed because, the poli t ical orientation having changed, he would from then on have been in the way. Whatever had been his earlier merits, his tim e had come in the universal I revolution. He was suppressed like a stra w dog. It is useless to sho w that these ideas are dia metrically opposed to the Christian ideas of Providence, of the love of God for each of his creatures, of grace, benediction, etc. That is goodness of an inferior order, say the Daoist Sages with a disdainful smile. - There follows the fa mous co mparison of the universal bellows, to which the Daoist authors often return. It will be developed further in the next chapter. - The conclusion is that all that one kno ws of the Principle and its action, is that it produces the universe made up of be ings; but the universe alone matters to it, not any partic ular be ing. This last point can only be made with the reservation that it depends on whether one can employ the verb 'to matter' with reference to a producer that breathes out its work without kno wing it. Brahma of the Hindus has at least some kindness in the soap-bubbles he blo ws; the Principle of the Daoists has none. Chapter 6. Text. A. The exp ansive tran s c e nde n t p ower which resides in the median space, the virtue of the Principle, does not die. I t is always 5 Lao Zi. the same, and acts the same, w i thout d i m i nu t i on or cessat i on . B. Thi s v i rtue i s the myster ious mother of a l l be i ngs. C. The doorway of th i s myster ious mother is the root of heaven and earth, the Pr inc ip le . D. Sprout ing forth , she does not expend he rse l f; ac t i ng , she does not t i re herse lf . Summary o f commentaries. It must not be forgotten tha t the work of Lao Zi was not origina l ly divided into chapters, and tha t the divisions made la ter have often been arbitrary, some times clumsy. This chapter continues and completes paragraphs C and D of chapter 5. It dea ls with the genesis of beings, through the virtue of the Principle, which resides in the median space, in the bag of the universa l bel lows, whence everything comes. Pa ragraphs A and B refer to the virtue of the Principle; paragraphs C and D to the Principle i tse lf. The term 'doorway', wi th the impression of t wo swinging doors, signifies the a l terna te movement, the play of the yin and the yang, first modifica tion of the Princ iple. This play was the 'root', tha t is to say it produced hea ven and earth... In other words, it was through the Principle tha t heaven and earth were exterior ized, the two boards of the bel lo ws. 'De', the universa l product ive vzrtue, emana tes from the Principle. It opera tes through, and between, heaven and earth, in the median space, producing a l l sentient beings without exhaustion and without fa t igue. Chapter 7. Text. A. If heaven and earth last fore v e r , it is because they do not l i ve for themse lves. B. Fol lowing this example , the Sage , in wi thdraw ing , advances; in neg l ect i ng h i mse l f , he conserves h i mse l f . As he does not seek his own advantage , everyth ing tu rns to his advantage. Summary of commentaries. If heaven and earth last forever, are not destroyed by the jealous, the envious, or by enemies, it is because they l ive for a l l beings, doing good to all. If they were to seek the ir own interest, says Wang Bi, they would be in confl ict with all beings, a particular interest be ing a lways the enemy of the genera l interest. But as they are perfectly disinterested, a l l beings flock towards them. - Like wise, if the Sage were to seek his own interest, he would only have troubles, and would succeed in nothing. If he were disinterested like heaven and earth, he would only have friends, and would succeed in everything. - In order to come to last, 6 Lao Zi. it is necessary to forge t oneself, says Zhang Hongyang. Heaven and earth do not think of the mselves, and they are also the most durable. If the Sage is without self-love, his body will last and his enterprises succeed. If not, it will be quite other wise . - Wu Deng reca lls quite rightly, tha t by heaven and earth it is necessary to understand the Principle, act ing through heaven and earth. In this chapter, therefore, the disinterestedness of the Principle is proposed as an exa mple to the Sage. Chapter 8. Text. A . Transcendent goodness is l i k e w a t e r . B . Water l i kes to do g o o d t o a l l b e i ngs ; i t does n o t s trugg l e f o r any defin i te form or pos i t i on , b u t puts i ts e l f in the l o we s t p laces tha t no one wants. By th i s , i t i s the r e fl e c t i o n o f t h e P r i n c i p l e . C. From i ts example , t h o s e who i m i t a t e t h e Pr i n c i p l e , lower themse l ves , s i nk themse l ve s . The y are bene vol e n t , s i ncere , regul ated, e ffi cac i ous , and t h e y c o n fo r m the mse l v e s t o the t i mes . They do not s t rugg le for the i r o w n i n teres t , but y i e ld. There fore they do not su ffer any c o n tradi c t i on . Summary o f commentaries. This chapter continues the preceding one. After the a l truism of heaven and earth, the a l truism of wa ter is proposed by way of example. Ge Zhanggeng sum marizes as fo l lows: 'Flee ing from the heights, water seeks the depths. It is not idle by day or by night. Above, it forms the ra in and the de w, be low, the strea ms and rivers. Everywhere i t wa ters, purifies. It does good to, and is useful to, a l l . It a l ways obeys and never resists. If one places a barrage in i ts way, it stops; if one opens a lock ga te, it flo ws. It adapts i tself equally to any conta iner, round, square, or other wise. - The inclina tion of men is quite the opposi te. They natura lly love to profit the mselves. They should im itate wa ter. Whomsoever should lower himself to serve others, wi l l be loved by all, and wil l not suffer any contradict ion. ' Chapter 9. Text. A. To hold a vase fil l ed to the brim, without s pilling anything , is imposs ible; be t ter not to f i l l i t so . To kee p an over-sharpened blade without i ts edge becoming blunt , is impossible; be t ter not to sharpen it to th is extre me. To ke e p a roomful of precious stones, w i thout any of i t be ing misa p propria t e d , is impossible; be tter not to amass this treasure . N o extreme c an be maint ained for a long t ime. Every he ight is followe d by a decline . Likewise for man. 7 Lao Zi. B. Whomsoever, having become rich and powerful, takes pr ide in himself, prepares thereby his own ruin. c. To re tire at the height of one ' s mer i t and fame, that i s the way of heaven. Summary of commentaries. A completely full vase spi l ls at the slightest movement, or loses i ts contents through evaporation. An over-sharpened blade loses its edge through the effects of the atmosphere. A treasure wil l inevitably be stolen or confiscated. When the sun reaches the zenith, it decl ines; when the moon is full , it begins to wane. The point which has reached the highest on a turning wheel , redescends as quickly. Whomsoever has understood this universa l , ineluctable law of diminution necessarily fol lowing augmentation, gives in his notice, re tires, as soon as he realizes that his fortune is at its height. He does this, not from fear of humil iation, but from a wise concern for his conservation, and above all in order to unite himself perfectly with the intentions of· dest iny. . . When he is aware that the time has come, says one of the commentators, the Sage cuts his links, escapes from his cage, and leaves the world of vulgarities. As is wri t ten in the Mutations, he no longer serves his prince, because his heart is set on higher things. Like wise did so many Daoists, who re tired to private life at the he ight of the ir fortune, and ended up in vo luntary obscurity. Chapter 10. Text. A. Keep your body and sper ma tic soul closely united, and ensure that they do not become separated . B. Apply yourse l f such tha t the air you bre athe i n , converted into the aer ia l sou l , anima t es this c omposite, and keeps i t intact as in a new-born baby . C. Wi thold yourse l f fro m c onsidera tions which are too profound, in order not to wear y ourse l f out. D. As for love of the peopl e and anx i e ty for the state , l i m i t yourse l f t o non-act ion . E. Let the gates of heaven open and c lose , w i thout w i sh i ng to do something, wi thout interfering. F. Know a l l , be informed on everyth ing , and for a l l that remain indi fferent, as i f you knew noth i ng. G. Produce, breed, wi thout taking credit for what has been prod uced, wi thout exact ing a return for your act ions , w i thou t i mpos ing yourself on those you govern. There you have the formula for transcendent act ion. 8 Lao Zi. Summary of commentaries. Man has t wo souls, a double principle of l ife. First 'pa i ', the soul coming from the pa terna l sperm, the principle of becom ing and development of the foe tus in the ma terna l wo mb. The more closely tha t this soul c l ings to the body, the hea lthier and stronger is the ne w being. After birth, the absorption and condensa tion of a ir produces a second soul, the aerial soul, principle of subseq uent deve lopment, and a bove all, of survival. In opposi tion to the rigidi ty of a corpse, flexibi l i ty here signifies life. The ne wly born chi ld is, for the Daoists, the idea l perfect ion of na ture, st i l l absolutely intact , and wi thout any m ixture. La ter on this infant wi ll be interpre ted as an interior transcendent being, the principle of surviva l . Il lness, excess, weakens the union of the sperma tic soul with the body, thus bringing on the i l lness. Study, worry, wears out the aeria l soul, thereby hastening dea th. Ma inten ance of the corporeal component of the aeria l soul, through clean l iness, rest, and therapeutic respira t ion, makes the progra m me of the l ife of the Daoist . - For G, compa re with chapter 2, C,D. Chapter 11. Text. A. A whee l is made o f t h i r ty percept i b l e spo k e s , but i t turns due t o the i mpercept i b l e c e n t ra l a x i s o f the hub . B. Vessels are made o f p e r c ep t i b l e c lay , b u t i t i s the i r i mpercep t ib le hol low that i s use fu l . C. The i mperce p t i b l e h o l e s w h i c h m a k e the doors and w i ndows o f a house , are i ts e sse n t i a l s . D. I t i s the i mpercep t i b l e t h a t p r o d u c e s e f fects a n d resu l ts . Summary of commentaries. This chapter is connected with pa ragraphs A and B of the preceding chapter. Man does not l ive by his perceptible body, but by the two imperceptible souls, the sperma t ic and the aeria l . Therefore the Daoist takes care a bove a l l of these t wo invisible ent it ies. The com mon people ei ther disbel ieve in the m or pay l i tt le a ttention to them, because they are invisible. They are preoccupied with perceptible, ma teria l things. Now in many perceptible be ings, says the text, the useful , the effe ctive, is wha t they have of the imperceptible, their hol low, a void, a hole. The com mentators genera l ize in saying: Everything effect ive comes from a void; a be ing is only effective through i ts empt iness. It seems tha t the ancient wheels had thirty spokes because the month has thirty days. 9 Lao Zi. Chapter 12. Text. A. Colours blind the eyes of man. Sounds make h i m dea f. Flavours exhaust his taste. Hunting and racing, by unch a ining sava ge passi ons in him, madden his he art. The love of rare and diff i cul t-t o-obtain objects pushes him to efforts that harm h i m. B. Therefore the Sage looks to his sto mach , and not h i s senses. C . He renounces this, in order to e mbrace t h a t. (He renounces wha t causes we ar, in order to e mbrace wha t conserves). Summary of commentaries. This chapter is connected with the preceding one. The stomach is the void, therefore the essential and effect ive part of man. It looks after the human composite and al l i ts parts, through digestion and assimilation. It is therefore the objec t of judicious care for the Daoist Sage. We can understand from this why be l l ies are so esteemed in China, and why the Daoist Sages are often represented with pot-bel l ies. On the contrary, the Sage carefully abstains from appl icat ion of the senses, exercise of the mind, curiosity; in fact any ac tivity or passion that wears out the t wo souls and the composite. Chapter 13. Text. A. Favour, because it can be los t , is a source of worry. Greatn�ss , because it c a n b e ruined , is a source o f fear. Wha t do these two sentences me an? B. The first means t h a t the c are require d to kee p i n favour, and the fear o f losing it, fill the mind with worry. C. The second points out that ruin generally c omes from car ing too much for one 's own gre a tness. He who has no personal ambition does not have to fear ruin. D. He who is only c oncerne d abou t the grea tness of the empire (and not that of himself) , he who ani y desires the good of the empire (and not his own good), to h i m the empire should be con fided (and it would be in good hands). Summary of commentaries. A continuation of the preceding chapter citing other causes of wear, and other precautions to be taken to avoid them. For those who are in favour, who occupy important positions, the worry of holding on to these wears out body and soul, because they are strongly attached to their favour and position. Many of the Daoist Sages were honoured by the favour of great persons and occupied high positions without personal inconvenience, so detached 10 Lao Zi. were they from any affection for their situation. They desired not so much to hold on to their positions as to see their resig nations accepted. Men of this kind can be emperors, princes, or ministers, without detriment to the mselves, and without detri ment to the empire, which they govern with the highest and most complete disinterest. The text of this chapter is faulty in many m odern editions. Chapter 14. Text. A. L o o k i n g , one does not see i t , for it i s i n v i s i b l e . L i s ten ing , one does not hear i t , for i t i s s i l e n t . Touch i n g , one does not feel i t, for i t i s i mpalpa b l e . These three a t t r i b u tes must not be separated , for they des ignate one a n d the same b e i n g . B. T h i s b e i ng , the P r i n c ipl e , i s not l i gh t above and d a r k below, as are opaque m a t e r i a l b o d i es . L i k e a s lender thread , i t unwi nds i t se l f (as c o n t i n u o u s e x i stence and a c t i on). I t has no name of its own. I t goes back as far as the t i me when there were no other b e i ngs but i ts e l f . I t has no parts; from in front one sees no head , from b e h i n d no rear . C . I t i s th i s p r i m o r d i a l P r i n c i p l e that has ru led , and ru les , a l l b e i ngs r ight up t o the prese n t . Eve r y t h i ng t h a t has been , o r i s , s i nce the anc i e n t o r i g i n , i s f rom the unw i n d i n g o f the P r i n c iple. Summary of commentaries. The first thirteen chapters form a series. Here the author goes back to the beginning. A new description of the Principle, so tenuous as to be i mperceptible; form less; indefinite, infinite being; that which was before everything; tha t which caused every thing. A picturesque description of 'de', its continuous and varying productive action, using the metaphore 'ji', the unwinding of a spool . The meaning is clear: The diverse products of the Principle are the manifesta tions of its virtue; the infinite cha in of these manifestations of the Principle can be cal led the unwinding of the Principle . - This important chapter does not present any difficulty. Chapter 15. Text. A. The anc i e n t Sages were subtle , abstrac t , profound, i n a way that cannot be e xpressed i n words. There fore I am go ing to use illustrat i ve compar i sons in order to make myse l f as c lear l y under stood as possi ble . B. They were c i rcu mspect l i ke one who crosses an i ce-co vered r i ver ; prudent li ke one who knows that h is n e i ghbours have the i r e y e s on h i m; rese rved l i k e a g u e s t i n front o f h i s host . They 11 Lao Zi. were indifferent like melting ice (which is n e i ther one thing nor the other). They were unsophis tic a t ed like a tree trunk (the rough bark of which conceals the exc e l l e n t heartwood). They were emp ty like a valley (with reference to the moun t ains that form it). They were accommoda ting like muddy Wat e r , (they, the clear wa ter, not repel ling the mud, n o t refusing to live i n contact with the common people, no t formin g a s e p a r a t e group). c. (To seek purity and peace by separating from the world is to overdo things. They can be found in the world). Pur i ty is to be found in the trouble (of this world) through ( i n t e r i or) c a l m , on condition that one does not let t h e i mpurity o f the world affect oneself. Peace is to be found in t he m ovemen t (of th is world) by one who knows how to t ake part i n t h i s move ment , and who is n o t exaspera ted through desiring t h a t il should be stopped. D. He who keeps to this rule of n o t being c o nsumed by s t e r ile desires ar ising from his own fancy, will live wil lingly in obscur i ty, and will not aspire to renew the world. Summary of commentaries. Zhang Hongyang expla ins as fol lows the last paragraph (D), which is some what obscure because of i ts extre me conciseness: He will remain faithful to the ancient teachings, and will not allow himself to be seduced by ne w doctrines. This explanation seems only just tenable. Chapter 16. Text. A. He who has re ached the maximum of e mptiness (of indifference) wiJJ be firmly f i xed in peace. B. Innumerable be i n gs c o me out (fr o m non -being), and I see them return there . They sprin g forth, then they all re turn to their root. C. To return to one 's root, i s to enter into the state o f rest. From this rest they emerge for a new dest i n y , and so it goes on, continuall y, without end. D. To recognize this law of immutable continu i t y ( o f the two states of life and de ath), is wisdom. To ignore it , is foolish. Those ignorant of this Jaw cause mis fortune ( through their untimely interference in things). E. He who knows that this law weighs hea vil y on beings , is just (treats al l beings according to their nature , w i th equity), like a King, like Heaven, like the Principl e . In consequence he las ts un til the end of his days, not h aving made h i mself an y enemies. 12 Lao Zi. Summary of commentaries. Im muta bi l i ty is an a ttribute of the Principle itse lf. Beings partici pa te in i t, in proportion to the ir acquired resemblance to the Principle. The a bsolutely indifferent Daoist Sage, be ing the one who is most l ike the Principle, is in consequence the most immut able. - Except for the Principle, a l l be ings are submitted to the continua l a l terna tion of the t wo sta tes of life and dea th. The com menta tors ca l l this a l terna tion the coming and going of the shuttle on the cosmic loom. Zhang Hongyang compares it with brea thing, active inspira t ion corresponding to life, passive exha l a tion corresponding to dea th, the end of one be ing the beginning of the other. The sa m e author uses, as a term of comparison, the lunar cycle, the full moon representing life, the ne w moon representing dea th, with t wo intermediate periods of waxing and waning. A ll this is c lassical , and can be found in all the Daoist Writings • . Chapter 17. Tex t. A. In the ear ly days (when, in h u m a n affa i rs , e ve r y t h i n g s t i l l conformed to the ac t i o n o f t h e P r i n c i p le) , subje c ts scar c e l y knew they had a p r i nc e (so d iscre e t was the ac t i on o f the l a t ter) . B. After t h i s the peop le l o ved and f l a t tered the i r p r i nce (because o f his good deeds), but l a ter on, they feared h i m (because of his laws), and scorned h i m (because o f his unj ust ac ts). They became d i s loy al, through h a v i n g been t reated d i s l o y a l l y . They lost conf i dence i n h i m through rece i v i n g o n l y good words wh ich were never put i n to e ffec t . C . How d e l i c a te w a s t h e touch of t h e a nc i e n t r u l e rs . When every th ing prospered under the i r a d m i n i s t ra t ion , the peop le be l i e ved they had done e v e r y t h i n g the msel v es, of the i r own free wi l l . Summary o f commentaries. The meaning is obvious and the commentators are all in agreement. This utopia of imperceptible govemment, without re wards and without punishments, haunted the minds of Chinese intellectuals up to fairly recent t imes. Chapter 1 8. Text. A. When ac t ion conformi n g to the Pr inc ip le dwind les , (when men cease to ac t w i th spontaneous goodness and fa i rness), ar t i f i c i al pr inc ip les o f goodness and fa i rness, prudence and wisdom (are i n vented) . These art i f i c i a l pr inc ip les soon degenerate into po l i t ics . B. When parents no longer l i ve i n natura l harmony , they try to 1 3 Lao Zi. make up for this de f ici t by inven t i ng art ifi c i al prin c i ples of fili al p i e ty and paterna l a ffect i on. C. When sta tes had fallen i n to di sarr a y , t h e y inven ted the loyal min ister stereotype. Summary of commentaries. Conventional morali ty, with i ts princ iples and precepts, useless in the age of spontaneous goodness, was invented when the world fe l l into decadence, as a remedy for that decadence . The invention was some what unfortunate. The only true remedy would have been to return to the original Principle . - This marks Lao Zi 's declaration of war on Confucius. A l l the Daoist wri ters, Zhuang Zi in particular, have declaimed against artificial goodness and fairness, the passwords of Confucianism. Chapter 19. Text. A. Reject (ar t ificial , conven tional, poli tical) wisdom and pruden c e , ( i n order to re turn t o primal natural uprigh t n e ss) , a n d the people will be a hundred times happier. B. Reject (artifi cia l , conventional) goodness and fairness, ( filia l and fraternal pie t y ) , and the people will come back ( for their we ll-being, to natural goodness and fairness) , to spontaneous filial and pa ternal pie t y. C. R e j ect art and gain , and evildoers will disappear. ( With the pri mordial s implici t y , the y will re turn t o primordial honest y ). D. R enounce these three artificial ca t egori es , for the art i f i c i a l is good-for -noth i ng. E. Be a t t ached to simplicit y and n a t uralness. Have few personal interests, and few desires. Summary of commentaries. This chapter fo l lows the preceding one. It is perfectly clear. The commentators are in agreemen t. This material is developed at length by Zhuang Z i . Chapter 20. Text. A. Give up learnin g , and you will be free fro m all y our worri es. What is the difference between yes and no ( about which the rhe toricians have so much t o say)? W h a t is the d i f ference b e tween good and evil (on which the cri tics never a gree)? ( Th ese are fu t ilities t h a t prevent the mind fro m being free. Now freedom of mind is necessary to en ter in t o re l a tion w i t h the Princ iple) . B. Without doubt, among the t h ings wh i c h com m on people fear, 1 4 Lao Zi. there are t h i n gs t h a t should be feared; b u t n o t as they do , w i th a m i n d s o t r o u b l e d t h a t t h e y lose t he i r m e n t a l equ i l i b r i u m . C . Ne i ther shoul d o n e p e r m i t onesel f to l ose equ i l i b r i u m through pleasure, as happens t o those w h o h a ve a good meal or v i e w the surroun d i n g c o u n t r y s i de in spr i n g from the top of a tower ( w i th the ac c o m p a n i m e n t of w i n e , e t c . ) . D. I ( the Sa g e ) see m t o be colo u r l ess and unde f i ne d ; n e u t r a l as a new-born c h i ld t h a t h a s n o t y e t e x p e r i enced any e m o t i on ; w i thout desi g n o r a i m . E. The c o m mo n people a b o u nd ( i n v a r i e d knowledge ) , b u t I a m poor (h a v i n g r i d m y se l f o f a l l uselessness) and see m i gnoran t , s o m u c h h a v e I p u r i f i e d myse l f . The y see m f u l l o f l i gh t , I seem d u l l . The y seek a n d s c r u t i n i z e , I r e m a i n concentrated i n m yself. Inde t e r m i n a t e , l i ke the i m me ns i ty of the oceans , I f loa t w i thout stopping. T h e y are full o f ta le n t , whereas I see m l i m i t ed and u n c u l t u r e d . F . I d i ffer thus from the c o m mon peop le , because I vene ra te and i m i t a t e the un i versa l nour i s h i n g m o t h e r , the P r i nc i p l e . Summary of commentaries. The text of this chapter differs in different editions; it must have been mutilated or re touched. The com m entaries a lso differ great ly from each other. The lack of clarity comes, I think, from the fact that Lao Zi, speaking of himse lf, and proposing himself as a m odel for the disciples of the Principle, would not have wished to speak more clearly. Zhang Hongyang seems to me to ha ve best interpreted his thought. Chapter 21 . Text. A. All of the be i n gs which p lay a ro le , in the great m an i festa t i on of the c os m i c theatre , h a v e come fro m the Pr inc ip le , through i ts v irtue ( i t s unwind ing) . B. The Pr i n c i p l e i s ind i s t inct and indeterminate , m yster i ous and obscure . In i ts i nd i s t i nct ion and indete r m i n a t i on there are t ypes, a mul t i tude o f b e ings. In i ts mystery and obscur i t y there i s an essence whi c h i s real i t y . C . F ro m anc ient t i mes u n t i l t h e prese n t , i ts n a m e ( i ts be i ng) has stayed the same, a l l b e ings have come fro m i t . D . How d o I know t h a t i t w a s the or ig in o f a l l be ings? • • • (By ob j ec t i ve observat ion o f the un i verse , which reveals that con t i n genc ies m u s t h a ve c o m e from t h e abso lute). Summary of commentaries. This eleva ted chapter is not obscure, and the com menta tors 1 5 Lao Zi. agree with each other. Al l of these ideas have already been stated. Lao Zi has gone back to the definit ion of the Principle and its Virtue, and here he has restated his ideas with greater clarity and precision. Chapter 22. Text. A. In the old days they said, the i n comple t e sha ll be made whol e, the bent shall be strai gh tened, the emp ty shall be f i l l ed, the worn shall be renewed. Simplicity makes for suc cess, multiplicity leads one astray. B. There fore the Sage who holds himself to unity, is the model for the empire , (for the world, the ide al man). He sh i nes, bec ause he does not show off. He imposes himself bec ause he does not cl aim to be r i gh t. One fi nds mer i t in him, because he does not brag. He incre ases constan tly, because he does n o t push himsel f. As he does not oppose h imself t o anyone, no one is opposed t o him. C. The axioms from the old days c i ted above, are they n o t ful l of sense? Yes, towards h i m who is per f e c t , (who does no thing t o a t tract t o himself), all run spon tane ously. Summary of commentaries. The meaning is clear. To hold oneself to unity is, says Zhang Hongyang, to forge t al l things, in order to concentrate oneself on the contemplation of original unity. Chapter 2 3. Tex t. A. To talk lit t l e , to ac t only withou t e f fort, tha t is the formul a . B. A gusty wind does n o t blow al l morning, t orrentia l rain does not last all day. And yet these effec ts are produc ed by heaven and earth, ( the most p owerful age nts o f al l. But these are e x agger a ted, forced, effec ts , tha t is why they c a n n o t be sustained). If heaven and earth c a nnot sus t ain a forced ac tion, how much Jess is man able to do so? C. He who con forms himself to the Principle, conforms his princip les to this Princip l e , his ac tion to the action o f this Princip l e , his non-ac tion to the non-ac tion o f t his Princip l e . Thus his princip les, his ac tions, his non-ac tion, (speculations, inter ventions, absten tions), always give him the con t e n tmen t o f success, ( for, whether he succeeds or not , the Princip l e e v o l ves, and there fore he is content). D. ( This doc trine of the abnegation o f one ' s opinions and one 's ac tions appeals to the taste of b u t fe w peop l e ) . Many only believe in i t a litt le, the others not a t a U . 16 Lao Zi. Summary of commentaries. The meaning is clear and the commenta tors are in agree ment. The text of this chapter is highly incorrect in modern editions, having been touched up unintel l igently. Chapter 24. Text. A . By d i n t of ho ld ing onese l f on t i p toe , one l oses one ' s bal ance . By t r y i n g t o take too great a s t r i de , one does not go forward. By m a k i ng a show of oneself , one l oses one ' s repu tat ion . Through i mpos i n g onesel f, one l oses one ' s i n fluence . Through boast ing about onese l f , one becomes d i scred i ted . Through push i n g oneself , one c e ases to be augmented . B. In the l i gh t o f the Pr inc ip le a l l these ways o f a c t i ng are od i ous , d i s tastefu l . They are superf luous e x c e sses. The y are l i k e a p a i n i n t h e s t o m a c h , a t u m o u r i n the body . H e w h o h a s p r i n c ip les ( in confor m i t y with the Pr i n c i p le ) , does not a c t l i ke th is . Summary o f commentaries. This chapter continues the the me of the t wo preceding ones. The meaning is clear. The com m enta tors are in agreement. Excess destroys natura l si mpl icity. Chapter 25. Text. A. There is a b e i n g , o f unknown o r i g i n , w h i c h e x i s ted b e fore heaven and e arth ; i mpercep t i b l e and undef ined , u n i qu e and i mmut ab le , omn ipresent , the mother o f e ve r y t h i n g there i s . B. I do not know i t b y i ts own n a m e . I des i g n a t e i t b y the word Pr inc i p l e . I f i t were necessary t o name i t , one wou l d cal l i t the Great , great go ing forth , g re a t d i s tance , great return . (The pr inc i p l e o f the great c y c l i c e vo lut i on of the cosmos, o f the bec o m i ng and end ing o f a l l b e i ngs) . C. The name G re a t bef i t s (proport i ona l l y ) four (super i mposed) be i ngs: The emperor , the earth , heaven (the c l ass ica l Ch i nese t r i ad) , and the Pr i nc i pl e . The e mperor owes his greatness to the earth (h i s theatre) , earth owes i ts greatness to heaven (of wh ich it i s the fru i t) , heaven owes i ts greatness to the Pr inc ip le (of which i t i s the pr inc i pa l agent) . (Greatness borrowed , as one can see , whereas ) the Pr inc ip le owes i ts essen t i a l gre a tness to i ts unde r i v e d , uncreated, e x i stence . Summary o f commentaries. A fa m ous chapter; compare it with chapter 1 . The serious co m m en - 1 7 Lao Zi. tators are in agreement, the verbose ones scoff. The Principle is called the mother of all that is, considered as the source of being of all that is. Being formless, and without any accident on to which one can hang a qualification, it cannot be named. The only terms properly applicable to it are Indefinite Being, or Universal Principle. Chapter 26. Text. A. The heavy is the base (root) of the light. S til l n ess is the p r i nce of movemen t . (These things shou l d a lways be uni ted in a just temperament). B. Therefore a wise prince , when he travels (in his light carr i age), never separa tes himsel f from the heavy wagons which c arry his baggage. However beautiful the landscape through which he p asses, he takes c are to l odge only in peaceful places. C. Alas, how could an e mperor behave so foolishly, l osi ng a l l authority by din t o f frivolity, and a ll rest through his waywardness? Summary of commentaries. Historic allusion to Emperor You Wang, or to another, one is not exactly sure. The commentators are of the opinion that this chapter is only an exhortation to orderly behaviour. The wording varies in the last paragraph, in many editions. Chapter 27. Text. A. A good wal ker leaves no t r a c e , a good speaker offends no one, a good reckoner needs n o t a l ly , a n e xpert locksmith can make one that no one c a n open, a n exp e r t on knots can make them so that no one can untie them. ( A l l spec i a l i s ts have the i r spec ia l i ty , which m a k e s t heir fame , from wh ich they take the i r profi t). B. L ikewise the Sage (Confucian pol i t ic i an) , the professi onal saviour of men and things, has h i s own procedures. He consi ders hi mself .the born master of other men, regarding them as material born for his craft. C. Now that is to b l i nd onese l f , ( to shade out the l i gh t , the Daoist princi ples). Not wishing to rule, nor to appropr i a t e , o thers; a l though wise, seemi ng l i ke a madman (persi s t i ng to l i ve i n retreat); this is the essen t i al tru th . Summary o f commentaries. Transla ted after Zhang Hongyang who pointed out, rightly, tha t almost al l of the com menta tors are wrong a bout the interpre ta tion 18 Lao Zi. of this chapter. - The clear opposition of the Confucian and the Daoist. The first drea ms only of a post which gives hi m author ity over men, the second protects himself as much as he can from such posi t ions. Chapter 28. Text. A. Be i ng aware of one ' s v i r i l e s t rength (knowing that one is a cock) , and y e t ho l d i ng onesel f w i l l i ng l y in the i n fer ior state of the fe male (o f the hen) ; keep ing onese l f w i l l i ng l y i n the l owest place in the e m p i r e . . . T o demean onese l f thus shows that one has r e t a i ne d the p r i m o r d i a l v i r tue , (abso lute d i s i n terestedness, part i c i pa t i on in the P r i n c i p l e ) . B . Know i ng onese l f t o be en l i ghtened , and w i l l i ng l y pass ing onese l f off as ignorant ; w i l l i ng l y l e t t i n g onese l f be wa lked o ve r . . . To beha ve thus i s to show t h a t the p r i m o r d i a l v i r tue has not wavered i n oneself , that one i s s t i l l u n i ted w i th the f irst Pr inc ip le . C. Knowi ng onesel f worthy of fa m e , y e t s tay i ng i n vo luntary obsc u r i t y ; w i l l i ng l y m ak i ng onese l f the va l ley ( the lowest po int ) of the e m p i re . . . T o b e h a v e thus i s t o show that one has the o r i g i na l se lf-sac r i f i ce s t i l l i n t a c t , t h a t one i s s t i l l i n t h e s t a t e of na tural s i m p l i c i t y . D. ( The S a g e w i l l r efuse therefore t h e burden o f b e i ng a governor. If he i s cons t r a i n e d to accept such a post , then he wi l l remind h imse l f t h a t) the m u l t i p l i c i t y o f b e i ngs h a v e come from the p r i mor d ia l u n i t y b y a s c a t t e r i n g . (That he w i l l ne ver busy h i ms e l f wi th these d i verse b e i ngs) , but govern as c h i e f o f the of f i c i a ls (as pr i me mover) , u n i q u e l y app l y i ng h i mse l f t o general government , wi thout occup y i n g h i mse l f w i th de t a i ls . Summary o f commentaries. This chapter is associa ted with paragraph C of the preceding chapter. It c learly describes a Daoist style Olympian government. The next chapter continues this the me. Chapter 29. Text. A. He who ho lds the e m p i re wou ld , i n my v i ew , be w ish ing for fa i l u re should he want to man ipu late it (to act pos i t i ve l y , to govern ac t i ve l y ) . The emp i re i s a mechan ism o f ex treme de l icacy . It shoul d be le t go a l l a lone . I t shou ld not be touched. He who touches i t , deranges i t . He who w i shes to appropr ia te i t , l oses i t . B. When he governs , t h e Sage le ts a l l people (and the i r sum, the emp i re) go free accord ing to the i r several na tures, the ag i l e and the s low, the ardent a n d t h e apathe t i c , the strong a n d the 1 9 Lao Zi. weak , the long-l i ved and the short-l i ved. C. He l i m i ts h i s ac t ion to the suppress i on of excesses which would harm the whole, such as powe r , wealth , and amb i t ion. Summary of commentaries. Zhang Hongyang ca lls this suppression of excesses the only inter vention permitted to the Daoist; act ion in non-action. Chapter 30. Text. (Of all the excesses, the most prej u d i c i a l , the most damnable, i s that of weapons, war) . A. Those who act as adv i sors to a prince shou ld keep themsel ves from want ing to make war against a country . (For such act ion , ca l l ing for revenge, i s a lways pa id for dear ly ) . Wherever the troops stay the l and produces onl y thorns, hav ing been abandoned by the farm workers. Wherever a great army has passed, years of unhappi ness ( from f a m i ne and b r i gandage) fol l ow. B. Therefore the good general i s content to do only what he has to do, (the least poss ib le ; mora l , rather than mater ia l repress ion). He stops as soon as poss i b l e , guard ing h i mse l f from explo i t i ng h is force to the l i m i t . He does as much as is requ ired ( to re estab l i sh peace), not for his personal advantage and fame, but from necess i t y and w i th re luctance , w i thout any intent ion of i ncreasi ng h i s power. C. Any he ight of power i s always fo l lowed b y decadence . Mak i ng onesel f powerful i s therefore contrary to the Pr inc ip le (the source of duration) . He who i s l ack ing on th i s po int , w i l l not be l ong in c o m i ng to an end. Literal commentaries. No controversy. Chapter 31 . Text. A. The best weapons are i l l -omened i nstruments that al l beings hold in fear. There fore those who c onform themsel ves to the Principle do not use the m . B. In t i mes o f pe ace , the pr ince puts the c i v i i m i n ister he honours on h i s l e f t (the p l ace of hono ur) ; b u t e v e n in t i mes of war, he puts the m i l i tary c o m mander on h i s r igh t (w h i c h is not the place of honour, e v e n though he is exerc is ing h i s func t i on) . Weapons are disastrous instruments. A w i s e prince uses them only w i th reluc tance and fro m necess i t y . He prefers always a modest peace t o a g l orious v i c t o r y . N o o n e should think t h a t v i c tory is a g o o d t h i ng . He w h o thi nks that, shows that h e has the heart o f an assassin. Such a man would not be fi t to reign o ver the empire. 20 Lao Zi. C. Accordi ng to the r i tes , those of good omen are p laced on the lef t , those of i l l -omen on the r ight . (Now when the emperor recei ves two m i l i tary off icers together) , the one of subord inate rank (who only acts on super ior orders , and i s there fore less i l l -omened) is p laced on the l e f t . The command ing off icer is p laced on the r ight , that i s , in the f i r s t p lace accordi ng to the funeral r i tes , ( the p lace of c h i e f mourner) . For it behoves one who has k i l l e d many m e n to weep t ears of l a m e n t a t i on for them. The onl y p lace rea l l y f i t t i ng for a conquer ing general i s that of ch ief mourner ( l ead in g the mourn i ng for those whose death he has caused) . Litera l com mentaries. No controversy. Chapter 32. Tex t. A. The Pr i nc i p l e h as no n a m e of i ts own . I t is nature . This nature so unmani fest i s s tronger than a n y t h i n g . I f p r i nces and e mperors were to conform themse lves t o i t , al l b e i ngs wou ld col l aborate with them spo n taneous l y ; h e a v e n and earth would act i n perfect harmony , spr i n k l i ng a swe e t dew ( the best poss i b l e omen); the people would be governab le w i thout t h e need for constr a i n t . B . W h e n , i n the b e g i n n i n g , i n t h i s v i s i b l e wor ld , the Pr i nc ip le i mparted i tse l f i n the produc t i on o f (sen t i e n t) b e i ngs w i th names , i t d i d not produce them i n a way that e x hausted i tsel f (but on ly as tenuous prolonga t i ons , i ts mass r e m a i n i n g i n tact ) . The Pr inc ip le i s , w i th reference t o the d i vers i t y o f b e i ngs i n the wor ld , l i ke the mass o f great r i vers and oceans w i t h r e ference to tr ick les and r i vu lets o f water . Summary o f commentaries. Each being exists through a prolonga tion of the Principle in itself. These prolonga tions are not detached from the Principle, which is not, therefore, diminished in imparting itself. The prolongation of the Principle in each being is the nature of that being. The Principle is universal nature, being the sum of all individual natures, i ts prolongations. Chapter 33. Text. A. Knowing o thers is w isdom, b u t knowing onese l f i s super i or wisdom, (one ' s own nature b e i ng most h i dden and pro found) . - Impos ing one ' s w i l l on others i s strength; but i mposing i t on onesel f i s super ior strength (one ' s own passi ons be ing the most d i f f icu l t to subdue). - Being sat i sf i e d (content with what dest iny has g i ven) , i s true weal th; be ing master o f onesel f (bending onesel f to the d ispos i t ions of dest iny ) i s true character . 2 1 Lao Zi. B. St aying in one 's (na tural) place (that which destiny has given), makes for a long l i fe . A f ter death, n o t ceasing t o be, is true longevi ty, (which is the l o t o f those who have lived in conformity wi th na ture and dest iny). Summary of commentaries. L ife and death are two forms of the being. In B it is a question of conscious survival after death. Chapter 34. Text. A. The gre a t Pr i nciple e x tends itsel f in all dire c tions. I t lends itsel f willingly to the genesis of all beings (its par ticip ants). When a work is acco mpl i she d, i t does not a t t ribute it to itself. It nourishes all be i ngs with kindness, wit hout imp osing itself on them as a master (for having nourished them; l e aving them free; not e x a c t ing any degrading re turn from them). Bec ause of its constant disintereste dness, one migh t t hink it would becom e diminished. This is not so . A l l beings t o w h o m it i s s o liberal, run towards i t . It there fore f i nds itsel f magnified (through t his uni versa! trust). B. The Sage imi t a tes this c onduc t . He, also, makes himsel f small (through h i s di s interes tedness and h i s delic a t e reserve), a nd acquires thereby true gre a tness. Nothing more in the commentaries. Chapter 35. Text. A. Because he resembles the gre a t proto t y p e ( t h e Princ ip le , through his disinterested devo tion), a l l come to the Sage . He welcomes them all, does the m good, and gives t h e m rest , peace, and happiness. B. Music a nd good cheer may h old up a passer-by for but a n ight , (since sensual pleasures are fle e ting a nd leave noth ing behind) . Whereas the ex position o f the g r e a t pr inc i ple of d i s i nterested devot ion, s i mple a nd gentle, whic h charms ne i ther the eyes nor the ears, pleases, engraves i t self, and is of an inexhaust ib le fecund ity in matters of prac tical applic a tion. Nothing more in the com mentaries. Chapter 36. Text. A. The beginning o f contrac t i on necessar i l y fol l ows the maxi mum of expansion. Weakness fol l ows strength, decadence fol lows prosper i ty , depra vat ion fol lows opulence. Th is i s a sub t le ins ight ( tha t many do not wish to see). All preceding strength and super ior i ty 22 Lao Zi. i s e x p i a ted by subsequent deb i l i t y and i n fer ior i ty . More ca l l s for less, excess c a l l s for def ic i t . B. A f ish shou l d n o t l e a ve t h e dep ths (where i t l i ves i gnored but in secur i t y , i n order to show i tsel f at the surface where i t cou ld be harpooned) . A s tate shou ld not show i t s resources ( i f i t does not w i sh the others to turn aga i ns t it in order to c rush i t ) . Summary o f commentaries. Stay smal l , hum ble, hidden; do not a t tract a t tent ion; this is the secre t of living wel l and for a long t ime . Chapter 37. Tex t. A. The P r i n c i p l e i s a l w a y s non-ac t i ng ( n o t ac t i ng ac t i ve l y ) , and yet i t does e v e r y t h i n g (w i thout see m i n g to p a r t i c i p a te ) . B . I f t h e pr ince and the l o rds c o u l d g o v e r n l i k e t h a t (w i t hout pok ing the i r f i ngers i n i t ) , a l l be i ngs w o u l d b e c o m e spontaneous ly perfec t (by re turn ing t o nature ) . C . I t wou ld on ly rema i n t o ca l l the m b a c k t o u nn a med nat ure ( to the p r i m o r d i a l s i m p l i c i t y of the P r i n c i p l e ) each t i m e the y showed any tendency t o c o m e o u t o f t h i s s t a t e ( b y ac t i ng ) . In this state o f unnam ed n a t u r e t h e r e are no des i res . When there are no des ires al l i s p e ac e fu l , and t h e s t a t e is governed b y i tse l f . The com m entators add nothing. Compare with chapter 3. 23 Lao Zi. Book 2. Chapter 38. Text. A. That which i s super i or to the V i r tue of the Pr inc ip le ( the Prin c ip le i tse l f , cons idered i n i ts essence) , does not act , but holds Vi rtue in a s tate o f i m manence wi t h i n i tse l f . A l l those which are i n fer ior to the V i r tue of the Pr i n c i ple (art i f i c i a l rules of conduct) , are only a pal l i a t i ve for the l oss of that V ir tue ; a pa l l i a t i ve with wh ich i t has noth ing i n common . B . That wh ich i s super i or to t he V i r tue ( the Pri nc ip le ) , does not act in de ta i l . (The ar t i fi c i a l ru les) wh i c h are i n fer ior to the V i r tue (of the Pri nc ip le ) only e x i s t for ac t i on i n de t a i l . C . When n a ture , w i th i ts natural good i n s t i nc ts , h a s been forgo tten, art i f i c i al pr inc ip les come as pa l l i a t i ves for th i s def ic i t . These are, in descend ing order, goodness , fa i rness , r i tes and laws. (Art i f ic ia l Con fuc i an goodness i s supe r i o r to ar t i f i c i a l fa i rness wh ich , in s t ruggl ing to cope wi th the d i verse i n c l i n a t i ons o f men, has pro duced r i tes and l a ws) . R i tes are bu t a poor e xpe d i e n t to c o ver up the loss of or i ginal upr ightness and frankness . The y are more a source of trouble ( in e t i que t te and rubr ic ) than they are o f order. The last term of th i s descend ing e vo l u t i o n , po l i t ica l w i sdom (making laws) , was the beg inn ing o f a l l abuses . D . He who i s tru l y a man, ho ids h i mse l f to upr i gh tness and natural good sense. He i s con temptuous o f ar t i f i c i al pr inc i ples. Using d iscernme n t , he re jects th is ( the fa lse) , i n order to embrace that (the true) . Summary of commentaries. This chapter is directed aga inst Confucianism. Tota l good natural sense, is unity. A rtificia l mora l precepts are multiplicity. The next chapter is going to sho w tha t m u l t ipl i c i ty ruins, and that unity saves. Chapter 39. Text. A. The follo w i n g part ic ipate in pr im i t i ve s impli c i t y : Heaven, which owes its lu m i n os i t y to i ts s imp l i c i t y . Earth, which owes i ts stabi l i t y to i t . The un i versal genera t i ve a c t i on , which owes i t s ac t i v i t y to i t . The me d i a n space , . wh i c h owes i ts fecund i t y to i t . T h e li fe common to a l l bei ngs. T h e power o f t h e emperor and the princes. (li fe and power being eman a t i ons of the Pri n c i ple ). B. What makes them such as they are , is the (pri mi t i ve ) s i mpli c i t y ( i n w h i c h t h e y part i c i pa te). If h e a v e n c a m e to l ose i t , i t would fall. If the earth c a me to l ose i t , i t would l ose i t s stabili t y . 24 Lao Zi. if the genera t i ve ac t i on lost i t , i t wou ld cease to act . If the med ian space lost i t , all b e i ngs w o u l d d i sappe ar . If the e mperor and the pr inces should lose i t , they wou ld h a v e no more d i gn i t y . C. Al l e levat i on , a l l nob i l i t y , i s based on abase ment a n d s i m pl i c i t y (character i s t i cs proper to t h e P r i n c i p l e ) . There fore i t i s r ight that the e mperor and the pr i nces , the most exa l ted o f men, shou ld be des ignated b y the terms , s o l e , u n i que , i n c apab le , wi thout them being thereby degrade d . D. ( Appl y i ng t h e same p r i n c i p l e o f s i m p l i c i ty i n the i r government) , they shou ld reduce the mul t i t u de o f the i r sub j e c ts to un i ty , cons id er ing them w i th a serene i mpar t i a l i t y as an u n d i v i ded mass , not regard ing some as pre c i ous l i ke j ade and o thers base l i ke stones. Summary of commentaries. In a tota l vie w, as from a grea t distance, individua ls and deta ils are not visible. This chapter comple tes the the me of the preceding one. Chapter 40. Text. A. Going back ( towards the Pr i n c i p l e ) i s the t y p e of move ment character i s t i c o f those who conform t h e m s e l ves to the Pr i nc ip le . A t tenu a t i on i s the resu l t o f the i r be ing con form e d to the Pr inc ip le . B. Cons i de r i ng that a l l that e x i s t s i s born o f s i m pl e be ing , and that be i ng i s born o f formless non-b e i n g , the y tend , in d i m i n i s h i n g them sel ves w i thou t cease, to go back to p r i m o r d i a l s i m pl i c i t y . The com mentators add nothing i n a clear sense. Chapter 41 . Text. A. When a wel l -read person · o f h i gh c a l i bre hears about the return to the Pr inc i p l e , he app l ies h i mse l f to i t w i t h . z e a l . A person of med i u m c a l i bre app l i es h i mse l f to it i ndec i s i ve l y . An i n fer ior person r id i cu les i t . That such a person shou l d r i d i cu le i t , i s a mark of the truth o f th i s doc tr ine . The fac t that they do not understand it , shows i ts transcendence . B. They say i n the pro verb: Those who have understood the Pr in c i p le are as i f b l i nd; those who tend towards i t are as i f d i sor ient ated; those who have reached i t see m l ike com mon peop le . Th i s i s because great v i rtue ho l l ows i tse l f l i k e a v a l l e y , t h e great l i ght voluntar i l y d i ms i tsel f , vast v i r tue seems de fec t i ve , so l i d vi rtue see ms i ncapab le . There fore the Sage h i des his qual i t i e s beneath a somewhat repu ls i ve e x ter ior . C. He who goes by these appearances wi l l be qu i te mis led . L i k e a square s o b i g that i ts corners are i n v i s i b le , l i k e a n enormous vase that i s ne ver f in i shed, li ke a great mean ing h i dden in a 25 Lao Zi. feeble sound, l i ke a great shape that canno t be grasped; the Sage resembles the P r i n c i ple. - Now t he Principle is la t e n t and has no name , b u t through i ts gentle communica tion, everything is produce d. It is the sa me, in prop o r t i on, for the Sage . Nothing more in the commentaries. Chapter 42. Text. A. When the Pr inc i ple has emitted i ts v i r tue, the la t t er begins to evolve accord ing to two alte rna t ing modalities. This evolut i on produces (or condenses) the me dian a i r (tenuous m a t te r) . From tenuous matte r , under the influence of the two m odali t i es y i n and yang, all sent ient beings a r e p r o duced. C o ming out from the yin (from streng th) they pass to t he yang (to the a c t ) , through the influence of the two modalit ies on mat ter. B. Wha t men dislike is be ing alone , unique , inca pabl e , ( i n obscur i t y and abase ment), and yet empe r o rs and princes are des i g n a ted by these te rms, (wh i c h i m p l y humil i t y w i t hout debase ment) . B e i ngs diminish themselves by wanti ng to augment the mselves, and they are augmented through d i m i n i sh i ng themselves. Nothing more in the com m enta ries. In A there is no question of the Trinity. Compare A and B with chapter 39 C. Chapter 43. Text. A. Always and e v er ywhe re it is the soft t h a t wears t h e h ard (as water we ars stone ) . N o n - b e i ng pene tr a tes even where there are no cracks (as i n t he most h o m ogene ous bod i e s such as m e t al and stone). From that I c o n clude the supre m e e f f e c t iveness of non - a c t i o n . B . S ilence a n d inac t i on - few men com e to understand the ir effec t iveness. Nothing further in the commentaries. Chapter 44. Text. A. Is not the body more import a n t t h a n repu tat ion? I s l i fe not of more considera t i on t h a n wea l th? Is it w ise to risk a great loss for a small advan ta g e ? B. He who i s a grea t lover, we ars out (h i s heart) . He who amasses great wea lth, heads towards rui n (by theft or conf i scat i on) . Whereas he who is modest cour ts no d isgrace; he who is moderate does not perish, but endures . Nothing further in the com m entaries. 26 Lao Zi. Chapter 45. Text. A. Acc o mp l i shed , beneath an i mperfect e x ter ior . G i v ing , ( o f h i msel f) · w i thou t b e c o m i n g w o r n ou t . F i l l ed u p , w i thout appe a r i ng to be so, and pour ing out w i thout b e i ng e m p t i e d . V e r y stra ight , beneath a bent a i r ; most ab le , beh ind an awkward appearance; h igh ly persp i c a c i ous , w i th an e m b arrassed e x te r i o r . Th i s i s the Sage. B. Movement beats the cold (wa rms one up) , rest overcomes heat ( refreshes) . The w i thdrawn l i fe of the Sage rec t i f i e s all the e m p i re (s t r i kes a t the roots of i ts depra v a t i on ) . The com mentaries say this refers to an intense influence, benea th an exterior of ina ction. Chapter 46. Text. A. When the Pr inc i p l e re i gns ( i n p e r fe c t p e a c e ) , war horses work i n the f i e l ds . When the Pr i n c i p l e i s forgot ten , (war horses are the order o f the d a y ) and they are r a i se d e ven i n the suburbs o f the towns. B. To g i v e i n to one ' s c o v e t ousness (and t h i s i n c ludes the m an i a f o r w a g i n g w a r ) , i s the wors t o f c r i mes . N o t to k n o w how t o contro l onese l f , i s the w o r s t o f n a s t y t h i n g s . T h e w o r s t o f fau l ts i s to want more , a lways . Those w h o know how to sa y ' enough i s enough ' , are a l w a y s c o n t e n t . Nothing more in the com menta ries. Chapter 47. Text. A. W i thout go ing o u t by the door , one can know the who le world; w i thout look i ng through the w indow, one c a n b e c o m e aware of the ways o f heaven (pr inc ip les w h i c h ru le a l l t h i ngs) . - The further one goes , the less one learns . B. The Sage gets there w i thout h a v i n g taken a step to reach i t . He knows before hav ing see n , through super i o r p r i n c i p l es . He ach ieves , w i thout ha v i ng acted , through h i s transcendent act ion . The com mentaries state that tota l superior kno wledge is tha t of the Sage. Knowledge of deta i ls is not worthy of h im. Chapter 48 • . Text. A. By study ing , every day one increases (use less and inj u r i ous part icu lar not i ons , i n one ' s memory) ; by concentrat ing on the Pr inc ip le , they are d i m i n i shed every day. Pushed to the l i m i t , t h i s d i m i n u t i on ends i n non-ac t ion , ( the consequence o f t h e absence o f part icu lar ideas) . 2 7 Lao Zi. B. Now there i s noth ing that non-ac t i on ( l e t t i ng th i ngs go ) cannot sort out . It i s through non-ac t i on that one wi ns the empire . To act, i n order to w i n i t , resu l ts i n fa i l u re . Nothing further in the com mentaries. Chapter 49. Text. A. The Sage has no def i n i t e w i l l of h i s own, he accom modates h imse l f to the w i l l of the peop le . He treats the good and the bad equal l y we l l , wh ich is the true prac t i ce of goodness. He trusts the s i ncere and the ins i ncere a l i k e , wh ich is the true prac t ice of trust . B. In th is mi xed-up world , the Sage i s w i thout any emo t ion , and has the same fee l i ngs for al l . A l l men f i x the i r e yes and ears on h im . He treats them l i ke c h i l dren , (Daois t k i nd l i ness, s l i ght ly d isda i nful ) . No thing more in the com mentaries. Chapter 50. Text. A. Men go for th into l i fe , and return in death . B . Out of ten men , three pro long t h e i r l i fe ( through c l eanl i ness) , three hasten the i r death ( t h rough the i r ex cesses) , three comprom i se the i r l i fe by the at tachment they have to i t , (and on l y one stays a l i ve unt i l h i s term, bec ause he i s not a t tached to i t ) . C. He who i s not a t tached to h i s l i fe , does not turn as ide to avoid an encounter w i th a rh i noceros or a t i ger ; he t hrows h i mself i n to the fray w i thou t armour or weapons; and he comes to no harm because he i s proof aga inst the rh i noceros horn, the t iger ' s c l aws , and weapons of comb a t . Why i s th is? . . Because , e x ter ior i zed through h is ind i fference , death cannot take a hold on h i m . Summary o f commentaries. When the soul is transported outs ide the body through ecstasy, the body cannot be morta lly wounded. The idea see ms to be that, for a morta l being, a fa ta l blo w must reach the junction of body and soul. This junction temporarily ceases during ecstasy. Chapter 5 1 . Text. A. The Pr incip le g i ves l i fe to b e i ngs , then i t s V i rtue nour ishes them, un t i l the comp l e t i on of the i r nature , unt i l the perfec t i on of the ir facu l t i es . Therefore a l l b e i ngs venerate the P r i nc ip le and i ts V i rtue. B. No one has the e m i nence of the P r i nc i p l e and i ts V i rtue confer red on them; they have i t always, natural l y . 28 lao Zi. C. The P r i n c i p l e g i ves l i fe ; i t s V i r tue g i ves growth , protects , perfec ts , matures , m a i n ta ins , and covers (a l l be i ngs) . When they a re born, it does not monopol i z e them; it lets them act free l y , w i thout exp l o i t i ng t h e m ; i t l e t s them g r o w , w i thout ty rann i z i ng the m . Th i s i s the ac t i on of transcendent V i r tue . The commenta tors add nothing. Chapter 52. Text. A . That wh ich was, be fore the beg i n n i n g o f the wor ld , became the mo ther of the world. He who has reached knowledge of the mother (matter , the body) , knows through that her son ( the v i ta l sp i r i t which i s enc l osed i n i t ) . He who knows the son (h i s v i ta l sp i r i t) and conserves the mother (h i s body) , w i l l re ach the end of h is days w i thout acc ident . B. I f he keeps h i s mouth and nost r i l s c losed ( t o prevent e v apora t i on of the v i t a l sp i r i t ) , he w i l l reach the end of h i s days w i thou t hav ing suffered decadence. Whereas , i f he t a l k s a lot and causes h i mse l f much worry, he w i l l use up and sho rten h is l i fe . C . Rest r i c t i ng one ' s cons i derat i on s t o s m a l l t h i ngs , a n d one ' s cares to affa i rs of l i t t l e i mpor tance , m a k e s t h e m i n d c l e a r and the body strong. Conc e n t r a t i n g one ' s i n te l l ec tu a l rays i n one ' s i n te l l i gence , a n d n o t l e t t i n g men t a l app l i c a t i o n h a r m one ' s body, i s to protect ( the m i n d) and to make for l ong ( l i fe ) . Summary of commentaries. This is an obscure text, but the com m en ta tors are in agreement. This is the basis of Daoist brea thing therapy. Chapter 53. Text. A. He who has a l i t t l e w i sdom, shou ld conform h i msel f to the gre a t P r i n c i p l e . He should take gre a t care to a v o i d any i rksome boast ing . But to this w i de road many pre fer the narrow s ide tracks . (Few men walk a long the w a y of obscure d i s i n terestedness. They prefer the narrow tracks of their van i t y , th e i r own advantage. This i s how the pr inces o f these t i mes act ) . B. When the pa laces are too wel l kep t up , the f ie lds go uncu l t i vated and the granar ies empty , (because the farm workers are requ i s i t i oned for forced labour) . C. Dress ing magn i f i cent l y , wear ing a sharp sword, s tuf f ing onese l f w i th food and dr ink , amassing wea l th to the e x tent o f not knowing what to do with i t (as do the pr inces o f these t i mes) , i s be ing l ike a br igand (who ostentat ious ly p lays with h i s loot) . Such condu c t i s opposed to t h e Pr inc ip le . The com menta tors add nothing. 2 9 Lao Zi. Chapter 54. Text. A. He who bu i l ds on d i s i n terestedness w i l l not f ind his work des troyed. He who keeps h imse l f d i s i n terested w i l l not lose what he has. His sons and his grandsons w i l l make offer ings to h im wi thout interrupt ion ( that i s to say , they wi l l succeed h i m and enjoy the fru i t of h is works) . B. F i rst o f a l l one shoul d conform onese l f to the Pr inc ip le ; after wards, th is conform i ty w i l l spread spontaneousl y , by i tsel f , to one ' s fam i l y , d i s t r ic t , pr inc i p a l i t y , and to the emp i re ; ( l i ke radiant heat coming from a centra l hearth ) . C . Through one ' s own na ture , one understands those of other ind i v i dua ls , and of a l l i nd i v i dua l co l l ec t i v i t i es such as fam i l i es , d i s tr icts, pr inc ipa l i t ies , and the e m p i r e . D. H o w c a n o n e know t h e na ture o f an e n t i re e m p i re? • • • By th is ( through one ' s own nature) . The commenta tors add nothing. Chapter 55. Text. A. He who holds i n h i mse l f perfect V i r tue ( w i thout lust o r anger) i s l i ke the new -born c h i l d whom the scorp ion does not b i t e , the t i ger does not devour , the vu l ture does n o t se i z e , whom a l l respe c t . B. A ch i l d ' s bones a r e weak , i ts tendons are feeb l e , but i t grasps obj ects strong ly ( just as its soul and body are held together by force) . He has not ye t any no t i on o f the ac t o f genera t i on , and, in consequence, keeps h i s sem i n a l v i r tue i n t a c t . He cr ies sof t l y a l l day long wi thout becoming hoarse , so per fec t i s h i s peace. C. Peace makes for durab i l i t y ; he who understands this i s en l i ght ened. Whereas any v i o l ent e x c i tement , above a l l l u s t and anger, wears one out. From this it fo l lows that v i r i l i t y (whi ch man abuses) i s succeeded by decrep i tude. In tense l i fe is con t ra ry to the Pr in c iple, and in consequence pre mature l y mortal . Summary of commentaries. This chapter conde mns lust and anger, as being the greatest causes of decrepi tude and pre ma ture death. Chapter 56. Text. A. He who speaks (much, shows thereby that he) does not know ( the Principle) . B. He who knows ( the Principle) , does not spe ak. He keeps his mou th closed, controls h i s breathing, b lunts his act i v i ty , rescues h imse l f from any compl icat ion , tempers his l i gh t , and m i ngles w i th the people. This is myster i ous union ( w i th the Pr inc i ple). 30 Lao Zi. C . No one can at tach h i mse l f (by do ing favours) to such a man, nor repulse h i m (by tre a t i ng h i m badl y ) . He i s ind i ffe rent to gain or loss, to e x a l t a t i on or h u m i l i a t i o n . B e i n g thus , he i s the most noble in the wor ld . Summary of commentaries. 'Superior to a l l tha t see ms, he converses with the au thor of beings. ' - Zhang Hongyang. Chapter 57. Text. A. One can go vern w i t h rec t i tude , one can wage war w i th compet ence, but i t takes non-ac t i on t o win and ho ld the e m p i re . B . How do I know that t h i s i s s o ? F r o m what I a m go ing to say : The more ru les there a r e , the l e ss peop le enr ich the mse l ves . The more taxes there are , the less order there i s . The more i ngen i ous i n v e n t i ons there are , the fe wer s er i ous and usefu l obj ects there are . The more de t a i led the pena l code , the more t h i e ves abound. Mul t i p l i c a t i on r u i ns e ve r y t h i n g . C . Therefore t h e progr a m m e o f t h e Sage i s q u i t e t h e contra r y . Not a c t i n g , and the peop le a mend themse l ve s . S t a y i n g peace fu l , and the people rec t i fy themse l ve s . Doing n o t h i n g , and the pe ople enr ich the mse l ves . Wish ing for n o t h i ng , and the peop le come back to natura l spontane i t y . The com m entators add nothing. Chapter 58. Tex t. A. When the go vern m e n t is s i m p l e , the people abound in v i rtue. When the government i s p ol i t i c a l , the people lack v i r tue . B. Good and bad succeed one another , a l tern a t e l y . Who w i l l d i scern the he i ghts? (of th is c i rc u l a r m o v e m e n t , o f good and e v i l . I t is very de l i c a t e , an e x cess or a defau l t chang ing the moral en t i t y) . In many the r i gh t measure i s J a c k i n g . In some an e x aggerated r ighteousness degenerates into a m a n i a . In others an e xaggerated goodness becomes e x travagance . (Po i n ts o f v iew changing i n conse quence . For a long t i m e now, men have thus been c ra z y . C . ( The Sage takes t h e m a s t h e y are) . T a k i ng them to task, h e is not sharp or c u t t i ng . Stra i gh t , he i s not rude . Enl i gh tened , he does not h u m i l i a t e . The com mentators add nothing. Chapter 59. Text. A. The essent ia l for co-ope r a t i on w i t h hea ven in the go vernment of men, i s to moderate one ' s ac t i on . 3 1 Lao Zi. B. This modera t ion shoul d be the pr ime care. It procures perfect efficacy , which succeeds in e veryth ing , e ven the govern ing of the emp ire. C. He who possesses th is mother o f the e m p i re (wise moderat ion), wi l l last a long t i me . I t i s ca l led the p i vot ing root, the sol i d trunk. It is the pr inc ip le of ·perpe tu i t y . The commenta tors add nothing. Chapter 60. Text. A. To govern a great s tate , one shou l d ac t l i ke someone cook ing very smal l f ish ( very de l i cate l y , otherwise they break up) . B. When a state is go verned accord ing to the Pr i nc i p l e , phantoms do not appear there to harm the peop le , because the Sage who governs does not harm the peop le . C. The meri t of th i s doub le t ranqu i l l i t y ( on the part o f the l i v i ng and the dead) comes back , there fore , to the Sage . Summary of commentaries. Phantoms are not the souls of the dead. They are, in the mora l harmony, like a whirl wind on a ca lm day. This disorder is produced by the movement of the passions - ha treds and others. It is not produced when the people 's minds are ca lm . Chapter 6 1 . Text. A. I f a great state lowers i tse l f , l i ke those ho les in which water accumulates, everyone w i l l come to i t . I t w i l l be l i k e the uni versal female (of chapters 8 and 28) . B. In her apparent pass i v i ty and in fer ior i t y , the female i s superior to the male ( for i t is she who g i ves b i r th ) . On cond i t i on o f knowing how to lower i tse l f , a gre a t s tate w i l l w i n over lesser s tates , which, in the i r turn, wi l l lower themse l ves , see k i ng i ts protec t i on. C. F or this to be rea l i zed , on ly one th ing i s needed, but i t i s essent ial . It is that the gre a t s tate de i gns to lower i tse l f be fore the lesser ones. ( I f i t is proud and hard , there i s no hope). Nothing further in the commentaries. Chapter 62. Text. A. The Pr inciple is the pal lad ium of all be ings. It i s the treasure of the good ( that by which the y are good), and the sal v a t i on of the wi cked ( that which pre vents them from per ish ing) . B. It is to i t that one should be grateful for a ffec t i onate words, and the noble conduc t of good people. It i s w i th regard to i t , that the wi cked should not be rejected. 32 Lao Zi. C. I t i s for that reason ( for the conse r v a t i on and de ve lopment of the part o f the P r i n c i p l e wh ich i s in a l l be i ngs) that the e mperor and the great m i n i sters were inst i t u te d . Not so tha t the y should become complacent with the i r sceptre and the i r anc i e n t four-horsed char io t ; but i n order that the y shou l d m e d i t a t e on the Pr inc i p l e (ad vanc i n g themsel ves i n the i r knowledge , and i n t h e de velopment of others) . D. Why d id the anc i e n ts make so much o f the Pr inc i p l e ? Is i t not because i t i s the source o f a l l good and the remedy for a l l e v i l ? I t i s the most noble th ing i n the wor ld . The com m enta tors add nothing.