Times Spent with Chuang Tzu

I’ve been writing about defining the characters (people used to make a point) and my interpretations of the Book of Chuang Tzu this month and am concluding Section 6 – The Great and Venerable Teacher and thoughts of time spent wandering the universe.  Chuang Tzu is big on discussing benevolence and righteousness with Confucius and others as examples. Showing how language can be used to show inequities in what is taken as truth and falsehood, and how in the end neither can be lasting. And in the end with who and how we spend our time.

Yi Erh-tzu went to see a recluse of the time of Yao, Hsu Yu, who asked him “What kind of assistance has Yao been giving you?” Yi Erh-tzu said, “Yao told me, “You must learn to practice benevolence and righteousness and to speak clearly about right and wrong!” “Then why come to see me?” said Hsu Yu. “Yao has already tattooed you with benevolence and righteousness and cut off your nose with right and wrong as a punishment, now how do you expect to go wandering in any far-away, carefree, and as-you-like-it paths?” “That may be,” said Yi Erh-tzu. “But I would like if I may to wander in a little corner of them.” “Impossible!” said Hsu Yu.  “Eyes that are blind have no way to tell the loveliness of faces and features; eyes with no pupils have no way to tell the beauty of colored and embroidered silks.”   Yi Erh said, “Yes, but Wu-chuang forgot her beauty, Chu-liang forgot his strength, and the Yellow Emperor forgot his wisdom – all were content to be recast and remolded forgetting themselves in the Way. How do you know that the Creator will not wipe away my tattoo, stick my nose back on again, and let me ride on the process of completion and follow after you, Master?”

“Ah – we can never tell,” said Hsu Yu. “I will just speak to you about the general outline.  This Teacher of mine, this Teacher of mine – he passes judgment on the ten thousand things but he doesn’t think himself righteous; his bounty extends to ten thousand generations but he doesn’t think himself benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity but he doesn’t see himself long-lived; he covers heaven, bears up the earth, carves and fashions countless forms, but he doesn’t think himself skilled. It is with him alone I wander.”

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