Chuang Tzu… Becoming the True or Perfect Man

(from  Chuang Tzu and Burton Watson)

The Great and Venerable Teacher

He who knows what it is that Heaven does, and knows what it is that man does, has reached the peak.  Knowing what it is that Heaven does, he lives with Heaven, Knowing what it is that man does, he uses the knowledge of what he knows to help out the knowledge of what he doesn’t know, and live out the years that Heaven gave him without being cut off midway – this is the perfection of knowledge. However, there is a difficulty. Knowledge must wait for something before it becomes applicable, and that which it waits for is never certain. How, then, can I know that what I call Heaven is not really man, and what I call man is not really Heaven. There must first be the Taoist sage, the Perfect or True Man, before there can be true knowledge.

But what is meant by becoming Chuang Tzu’s Perfect Man?  The True Man of ancient times did not rebel against want, did not grow proud in plenty, and did not plan his affairs. A man like this could commit an error and not regret it, could meet with success and not make a show. A man like this could climb the high places and not be frightened, could enter the water and not get wet, could enter the fire and not get burned. His knowledge was able to climb all the way up to the Way like this. He breathes from his heels which others breathe from their throats.

Because of this and many other things, the True Man of olds bearing was lofty and did not crumble; he appeared to lack but accepted nothing; he was dignified in his correctness but not insistent; he was vast in his emptiness but not ostentatious (as in being  pretentious or conspicuous in an attempt to impress others). Mild and cheerful, he seemed to be happy; reluctant, he could not help doing certain things; annoyed, he let it show in his face; relaxed, he rested in his virtue. Tolerant, he seemed to be checked by nothing; withdrawn, he seemed to prefer to cut himself off; bemused, and he forgot what he was going to say.


By 1dandecarlo

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