"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism


23 December 2013

The Sage, or Perfect Man

Hui Tzŭ said to Chuang Tzŭ: "Are there, then, men who have no passions?"

Chuang Tzŭ replied: "Certainly."

"But if a man has no passions," argued Hui Tzŭ, "what is it that makes him a man?"

"Tao," replied Chuang Tzŭ, "gives him his expression, and God gives him his form. How should he not be a man?"

"If, then, he is a man," said Hui Tzŭ, "how can he be without passions?"

"What you mean by passions," answered Chuang Tzŭ, "is not what I mean. By a man without passions I mean one who does not permit good and evil to disturb his internal economy, but rather falls in with whatever happens, as a matter of course, and does not add to the sum of his mortality."

He who knows what God is, and who knows what Man is, has attained. Knowing what God is, he knows that he himself proceeded therefrom. Knowing what Man is, he rests in the knowledge of the known, waiting for the knowledge of the unknown. Working out one's allotted span, and not perishing in mid career,—this is the fulness of knowledge.

Herein, however, there is a flaw. Knowledge is dependent upon fulfillment. And as this fulfillment is uncertain, how can it be known that my divine is not really human, my human really divine? We must have pure men, and then only can we have pure knowledge.

But what is a pure man?—The pure men of old acted without calculation, not seeking to secure results. They laid no plans. Therefore, failing, they had no cause for regret; succeeding, no cause for congratulation. And thus they could scale heights without fear; enter water without becoming wet; fire, without feeling hot. So far had their wisdom advanced towards Tao.

The pure men of old slept without dreams, and waked without anxiety. They ate without discrimination, breathing deep breaths. For pure men draw breath from their uttermost depths; the vulgar only from their throats. Out of the crooked, words are retched up like vomit. If men's passions are deep, their divinity is shallow.

— From Musings of a Chinese Mystic, by Lionel Giles, 1906, Page 96 - “The Sage, or Perfect Man.”