Friday, September 19, 2014

Zhuangzi - "Being Boundless"

excerpt from  Chapter 6 ~ Teachings from those who were Great who are no longer alive
Translation by Nina Correa

Zi Sang Hu (Great Silkworm Cultivator), Meng Zi Fan (Elder Great Mercenary) and Zi Qin Zhang (Great Lute Stringer) were three friends who got along well with each other.
One of them said:
"Who can join with others while not joining with others; act with others while not acting with others? Who can ascend to the heavens, travel on the mist, stirring up things without any end in sight, all the while forgetting about life without getting exhausted?"
The three of them all looked at each other and laughed. Feeling a profound intimacy with each other in their hearts, they knew they'd formed a deep friendship with each other.
Not long after that Zi Sang Hu died. When he had not yet been buried, Kong Zi (Confucius) heard about it and sent Zi Gong (a disciple of Confucius) to go see what was going on. One of the friends was composing a tune while the other was playing music.
They sang together:
"Oh, Sang Hu has arrived!
"Oh, Sang Hu has arrived!
"And already returned to his original being,
"While we're still serving as humans!"
Zi Gong rushed into the room and asked:
"How in the world could you both be singing over a dead body - is that proper conduct?"
The two friends looked at each other and laughed, then said:
"How could that guy know what proper conduct is?"
Zi Gong returned to tell Kong Zi what had happened:
"What kind of people are those guys? They can't even control their behavior and have no respect for their friend's physical body. They sit right next to the dead body singing without showing any signs of adapting their demeanor to the situation, in complete disorder. What kind of people are they?"
Kong Zi said:
"They both wander around outside the set boundaries, whereas I wander within the limits set by society. Those outside and those inside don't mingle with each other, and it was stupid of me to send you there to console them. The only boundaries those two adhere to are those set on people by Nature, and they wander among the singular essence of the universe. They consider life to be an insignificant attachment hanging there like a wart, and death to be the final removal of the ulcerated growth. Being that way, how would they have any conception of life and death or past and future! They avail themselves of the strange anatomy of their bodies, rely on the harmony of their vessel, forget about their internal organs, don't pay much attention to their ears and eyes, and repeatedly experience endings and beginnings without having a clue what's going on. In that way they pace back and forth through the dust and dirt while not being affected by it - free and unfettered without acting like they have something to gain. How could they be troubled or anxious about society's rules and mandates, or be troubled about being observed by everybody else's eyes and ears!"
Zi Gong said:
"That being so, Master, why do you rely on the boundaries?"
"I'm the heaven's sacrificial lamb. That's something I could share with you."
Zi Gong said:
"Then I'd appreciate hearing more about boundaries."
Kong Zi said:
"Fish were established together in water. People were established together in Dao. Those who are established together in water penetrate to the depths of a pond and find nourishment. Those who are established together in Dao don't cater to others and their lives are easier. Therefore it's been said: 'Fish forget about each other when in rivers and streams. People forget about each other when on the path of Dao.' "
Zi Gong said:
"May I ask about the non-conformist?"
"As for the nonconformist, he seems odd to other people, but is tuned in to the heavens. Therefore it's been said: 'Someone who has little to do with Nature would be looked up to by people. Someone who is looked up to by people would have little to do with Nature.' "

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