郑 鸿 博 士 (David H. Cheng)， 老 子 研 究 专 家， 著 有 《关 于 老 子》 (On Lao Tzu)， 《华 氏 哲 学 家 丛 书》 (Wadsworth Philosophy Series) 等。 最 新 专 著 《老 子 思 想 新 释》 ，由 八 方 文 化 企 业 公 司 于 2000 年 7 月 出 版。
以 下 是 郑 博 士 最 新 撰 文 《老 子 与 庄 子》 的 英 文 全 文。
LAO TZU AND CHUANG TZU COMPARED
By David H. Cheng
Visiting Scholar, Department of Philosophy
William Paterson University
ABSTRACT: Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were two important Chinese philosophers who believed that Tao is the universal law of nature. Many scholars have heretofore suggested that the two philosophers shared similar ideas. Chuang Tzu's writing did explain Lao Tzu's teachings through concrete examples that included historical events, people, animals, etc. However, Chuang Tzu's writing was philosophically deeper and more complex than Lao Tzu's. The divergence in their philosophies was made quite clear by the fact that Chuang Tzu did not share Lao Tzu's belief that soft and weak are superior to hard and strong. In some ways the two philosophers were completely opposed. This article exists in both Chinese and English in order to facilitate the understanding of some Chinese terms by English-language scholars and vice versa.
- Regarding the first Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu (670-?B.C.), the historian Ssu-Ma Chien wrote as follows: "He was from the State of Ch'u, Li County, Ch'o-Jen-Li Village. His surname was Li, private name Erh, and courtesy name Tan. He was an official of the archives of the Chou Dynasty. Lao Tzu practiced Tao and its virtue. He aimed at self-effacement rather than fame. Having lived in Chou for a long time, he realized that it was in decline and left."
- Chuang Tzu, name Chou, courtesy name Tse Chiu. He was an official of country Liang's Ch'i-Yuan, presently situated in Shandong Province. He lived a simple life, valued complete personal freedom, and never involved himself in public affairs. According to Hu shih, he died around 275 B.C. His major interest was in researching the substance of Tao, which is shapeless, devoid of life or death, and changes unpredictably. Because ofhis reputation as a Sage, King Chiu Wei offered him the premiership which came with both power and substantial wealth, but he declined the appointment. His book was not considered seriously by scholars until the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). At the first year of Tien Boh (which identifies the year of an emperor's reign), the book was honored by the emperor as The Classic of Nan-Hwa.
- It is well known that the relationship between Confucius (551-414 B.C.) and Mencius (372-289 B.C.) was one of solidarity, with Mencius playing the role of expanding and explaining Confucius's teachings. Many scholars have presumed the relationship between Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu to have been similar. However, in spite of Chuang Tzu having been widely considered to be the main interpreter of Lao Tzu's thought, the two men's philosophies were surprisingly far apart and often distinctly opposed to each other. Chuang Tzu's main focus of study was change in all things. He believed in personal fate that runs its course according to the Laws of Nature. He also believed that all things were similar at their beginnings, but reshaped continuously through natural evolution into their present form and character. This concept is quite close to what we consider to be the truth.
- We shall first have a preview of some of Chuang Tzu's philosophy, including his effective solution for ending arguments. Chuang Tzu's writing expressed a higher intellectual level and more complexity than Lao Tzu's five thousand characters. Although many chapters of Chuang Tzu's book were lost, there still remained seven inner chapters, fifteen outer chapters, and eleven miscellaneous chapters, a total of thirty-three chapters. These thirty-three chapters are also the source material used for this article, as arranged and translated by Kuo Shang (1)* (*See reference Numbers). Most scholars believed that the seven inner chapters and the concluding remarks were written by Chuang Tzu himself; the remaining chapters were written by his followers, and the quality of some of their contents may be less than reliable.
- The formation of philosophical thought is inseparable from the historical context in which it was conceived. Lao Tzu was born at the beginning of the Ch'un Chiu period (770-480 B. C.) when border fighting was ongoing and large states were conquering smaller ones. Compared with the later Warring States Period (480-221 B.C.), the era in which Lao Tzu lived was relatively orderly. Lao Tzu was employed as the librarian of the Chou Dynasty, an occupation that allowed him time to develop his philosophy and write whatever he wished. His belief in the superiority of soft over hard was practical, timely and thoughtful. Chuang Tzu, on the other hand, lived during the Warring States period, and was determined not to be bothered by the era's upheavals. He lived in poverty and led a simple life devoted to study and personal freedom. His writing sometimes reveals a romantic tendency bordering on mysticism, which suggests a preference to steer clear of the world's troubles. Like Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu's philosophy was closely related to his historical context.
- "The Perfect Man ignores Self, The Sage ignores Name, The Divine Man ignores Achievement."
- Liehtse, according to the Record of Marvels, was a legendary man who lived in ancient times. He could ride upon the wind, sailing happily in the cool breeze for fifteen days before returning. Such a man was rare even among mortals who attained such happiness. Yet although Liehtse could fly, he still needed something he needed depend on.
- Should there be a person who, roaming the realms of the Infinite, could merge with Nature as One, he would be completely self-sufficient. Because he would need nothing from the outside world, his concept of self would lose its meaning. Chuang Tzu named him the Perfect Man.
- Thus it was said that the Perfect Man ignores Self.
- The emperor Yao wished to abdicate the throne in favor of Hsu Dien, saying: "If you would assume the reins of the government, the empire would be better managed. I am conscious of my own shortcomings and I beg to offer you the Empire." "You have ruled the Empire and it is well-ruled," replied Hsu Dien. "Why should I take your place, just for the sake of a name? A name is but the miniature image of reality. Why should I trouble myself with it? Little birds make nests in large forests, but only on one branch; field rats drink from rivers only enough to fill their stomachs. I would rather go home, as I have no use for the Empire!"
- It was therefore said that the Sage ignores Name even of highest honor.
- On the Mino-ku-yi mountain there lived a Divine One whose skin was as white as snow, whose grace and elegance were like a virgin. He ate no grain and lived solely on air and dew, and rode the clouds beyond the limits of the Four Seas with a team of flying dragons. When his spirits gravitated, he could eliminate all human corruption and bring good crops.
- No object could harm him. In a flood that reached the sky he would not drown; in a severe drought, metals and stones turned to liquid and mountains were scorched, yet he would feel no heat. Out of his very dust, you might fashion the accomplishments of two Sage kings Yao or Shun. Tired of seeing people struggle against one another in their insatiable quest for wealth and reputation, he refused to participate in worldly affairs!
- It was therefore said that a Divine Man ignores Achievement.
- Therefore Chuang Tzu said: "The Perfect Man ignores Self, The Divine Man ignores Achievement, The Sage ignores Name."
- CHUANG TZU'S BOOK
- The book serves to delineate Chuang Tzu's philosophy while fulfilling its main purpose to explain the philosophy of Lao Tzu. However, the content and thoughts in Chuang Tzu's book were intellectually much deeper and complex than Lao Tzu's Tao-Te-Ching. Chuang Tzu would frankly admit this in his last chapter, "Under The Heaven." Here certain judiciously selected chapters were chosen in order to explain Lao Tzu's thoughts:
|a. & b.||The Happy Excursion (Part 1, pp.1-9)
|c.||The Preservation Of Life (Part II, pp.1-4)
|d.||The Autumn Floods (Part VI, pp. 6-15)
|e.||On Being King (Part III, pp.15-20)
|f.||On Tolerance (Part IV, pp. 14-23)
|g.||The Leveling All Things (Part I, pp. 9-26)
|h.||Conjoined Toes (Part IV, pp.1-6)
|i.||The Opening Trunk (Part IV, pp.8-14)
|j.||Horses Hoofs (Part IV, pp.6-8)
- CHUANG TZU'S PROPOSAL FOR CEASING ARGUMENT
- Chuang Tzu said to his opponent in argument: "Suppose you and I disagree on certain things and argue. If you get the better of me, are you necessarily right and I wrong? Could it be that we are both partly right and partly wrong? Or that we are wholly right and wholly wrong? You and I cannot know this, and consequently, we both live in darkness.
- "Whom shall I ask to be arbiter between us? If I ask someone who takes your views, he will side with you. Right may not be really right, and no one can distinguish right from wrong.
- "Basically, there is no right or wrong. You may think that it is right while I disagree. Therefore nothing is more effective in understanding all the facts than openly and honestly comparing what we know with what we don't know. Only by doing so can we stop unnecessary arguments."
- CHUANG TZU INTERPRETS LAO TZU'S PHILOSOPHY THROUGH CONCRETE EXAMPLES
The Sage is always good in using people and materials (Lao Tzu Ch. 27)
(5.) a. Neither Useless People Nor Useless Materials
- Weitze said to Chuang Tzu: "The King of Wei gave me seeds to plant which yielded me a large gourd with a capacity as large as five bushels. It can store gravy. Unfortunately, it is too heavy and cannot be lifted. When I cut it into two halves they were too shallow to be of much use, so I destroyed it." Chuang Tzu said: "You, sir, are unable to use something big. In the country of Sung, there is a substance that prevents hands from freezing and cracking in the winter. It's being used to wash silk." A stranger overheard this and offered 100 gold pieces to buy it. The chief of silk workers gathered all the workers saying: "We have used this substance for many generations, and yet we hardly made any money from washing silk. Since we are offered 100 pieces of gold for it, we should sell it." The stranger with the substance went to visit the King of Wei, who was having troubles with his neighbor Yueh. The King appointed the stranger as Commanding General, who then led a naval battle against Yueh in winter and won an extraordinary victory over Yueh. As a result, the stranger was given a gift of land and elevated to lordship. All came about by using the same substance. Now you have this large gourd, why not tie it to your body so that you may float in a river or lake to swim around for relaxation . Don't you think you should stop being so stuffy?
- Weitze told Chuang Tzu that he knew of a large tree that stood by the roadside, whose trunk was so irregular and knotty carpenters considered it useless and refused to look at it. What a pity!
- Chuang Tzu said: Have you seen a wild cat trying to catch mice? The cat springs high and low, left and right, until it gets caught by accident in a trap and dies. On the other hand, there is a huge yak, but it cannot catch a mouse. Now you have a large tree and don't know what to do with it. Why not plant it in the Village of Nowhere, where you may loiter by its side and happily lay beneath its shade? What is the worry?
(5.) b. Concept of Relativity
Tao Gives Life, Virtue Nurtures It, Environment Makes It Succeed (Lao Tzu Ch. 51)
Tao, Virtue, Environment
- The large fish K'un transformed through natural evolution into the giant bird P'eng. The wings of P'eng spanned many thousand li in flight and covered the sky like a big cloud. During Peng's flight towards the Southern Ocean for a six-month stay at the Celestial Lake, the water was smitten for an area of three thousand square li, while the bird mounted on a great gust of wind to bear it to a height of ninety thousand li.
- A cicada and a young dove laughed, saying: "When I fly with all my might, all I can do is to get from tree to tree, and sometimes I fall to the ground midway. To us, this is enough for anyone who wants to fly. What is the use of flying up to ninety thousand li for a trip to the South?" Such was indeed the difference between small and great.
- Small knowledge did not have the compass of big knowledge any more than a short year had the compass of a long year. How could we tell? The fungus plant in the morning knows nothing of the alternation of day and night; the cicada knows nothing of the alternation of spring and autumn; their lives are short. But in ancient times there existed large trees whose spring and autumn lasted eight thousand years. We need a sense of relativity. Take, for instance, a man whose credibility impressed a small office, or whose influence spread throughout a village, or whose character satisfied a certain prince. His opinion of himself would be much the same as that of the lake sparrow's. Intelligence, knowledge, and self pride are always relative.
- Conclusion: Tao, Virtue, and Environment are the three important ingredients to success.
(5.) c. On Preservation of Life
Cutting up Bullocks
- Life is limited, but knowledge is unlimited. To drive the limited to the unlimited without stop is impossible. In doing good, avoid fame. In doing bad, avoid disgrace. Pursuing a middle course is a reasonable choice.
- Prince Huai's cook was cutting up a bullock. Every blow of his hand, every heave of his shoulders, every tread of his foot, every thrust of his knee, all were in perfect rhythm, like the harmonious music intended for the Emperor.
- "Well done!" cried the Prince. "Your skill has advanced to such an extent!"
- "Sir, replied the cook laying down his chopper. "I have always devoted to Tao which is higher than mere skill. When I first began to cut up bullocks, I saw before me whole bullocks. After three years of practice, I saw no more whole animals. And now I work with my mind, not with my eyes. I glide through joints and cavities in the natural constitution of the animal. I do not even touch the convolution of muscles or tendon, and never attempt to cut through large bones.
- "A good cook changes the chopper once a year because he cuts. An ordinary cook once a month because he hacks. But I have had this chopper for 19 years. Although I have cut thousands of bullocks, its edge is still like new. For at the joints there are always intestines, and insert a blade without thickness into the intestine leaves plenty of room for the blade to move about.
- "Nevertheless, when I come upon a knotty part which is difficult to tackle, I am all caution. Fixing my eyes on it, I stay my hand and gently apply my blade, until the part yields like earth crumbling to the ground. Then I take out my chopper and stand up, look around, and pause with an air of triumph. Then wiping my chopper, I put it carefully away."
- "Bravo!" cried the Prince. "From the words of this cook I have now learned how to take care of my life."
(5.) d. Autumn Floods
The Size of Objects and Affairs are Relative, not Absolute
- There was plenty of rain in Autumn. Water streamed into the river, and the width of the river widened tremendously, and it was hard to distinguish a horse from an ox on the other side. The Spirit of River was very happy to be enjoying the beautiful scenery around him. He journeyed eastward until the North Sea was reached. He looked east and saw no limit to its wide expanse. His face changed as he sighted the Spirt of the North Sea, saying, "Formerly when I heard people detracting from the teachings of Confucius I never believed them. But now I do."
- The Spirit of the North Sea replied: "You cannot speak of ocean to a well-frog, which is limited by its abode. You cannot speak of ice to a summer insect, which is limited by its short life. You cannot speak of Tao to a pedagogue who is limited by his knowledge. The ocean is unspeakably larger than rivers and streams, yet never boasts. I am only too conscious of my own insignificance. How can I boast of greatness?"
- Comparing the vast ocean with the universe, it truly is insignificant. The size of all things is relative and not absolute.
(5) e. On Being King
It is unfortunate for a country to be managed by cleverness; a country is blessed by not being managed by cleverness (Lao Tzu, Ch. 65)
A Country Not Managed by Cleverness is Blessed
- The difficulty in ruling a country lies in the overabundance of cleverness, self-serving knowledge and ambition amongst its people. A country was thus blessed by being managed without the same sort of cleverness. Ancient rulers chose never to enlighten their people; they knew that once people acquired too much cleverness, they would use it to outsmart and fight each other. Then the world became disorderly.
- A gentleman feeling compelled to take charge of the empire could do nothing better than to leave it alone (Wu-Wei). Through inaction on the part of the ruler, the people would be allowed the even tenor of their lives. Thus, "He who values the world as his own self may then be entrusted with the governing of the world; and he who loves he world as his own self may then be entrusted with the care of the world (LaoTzu, Ch. 13). " Thus, if the ruler refrained from disturbing virtuous people, all would conform to the Law of Nature. All things would grow and accumulate forever like the smoke from a cooking fire. When people followed Virtue and stopped fighting one another for private privilege and gain, the world would be well managed.
(5.) f. OnTolerance
Banish Sages and Abandon Knowledge, People will Benefit a Hundred Fold; Terminate Charity and Abandon Unjust Justice, People will return to Filial Duty and Kindness (Lao Tzu, Ch. 19)
- Ts'u-chi asked Lao Tzu: "If the Empire is not governed, how are people's hearts to be kept good?" "Be careful, replied Lao Tzu, "never interfere with the natural goodness in the heart of man. The heart despises mediocrity but values superiority. This causes hatred, sadness, and serious struggles among people. The heart may be forced down or stirred up, but in each case the issue is serious. With gentleness, the hardest heart may be softened. But try to manipulate it, it will glow like fire or freeze like ice in the twinkling of an eye and pass beyond the limit of the four seas. In repose, it is profoundly still, in motion, it flies up to the sky like an unruly horse that cannot be held in check. Such is the human heart."
- "People rush for new knowledge and spare nothing in order to secure great gains in wealth. Such behavior causes serious disputes and unlawful conduct, which the government counters with rules enforced with hatchets that kill and knives that maim. Now the dead pile up layer upon layer, and those with maimed feet are seen everywhere. The world is completely out of order, and the reason lies in stirring up the heart. The learned scholars hide in caves under massive rocks, and the powerful rulers equipped with ten thousand carriages worry fearfully in their ancestral halls. Now the Confucians and the Motseans are still calling for further actions with devices of torture. Alas! They have no remorse for the ugly reality they have created. Since I do not know whether charity or justice can remove the handcuffs and shackles, how do I know if Tseng Chang and Shih Yu (good, law-abiding men) are not the vanguards of Shih Chieh, (last cruel ruler of the Shang Dynasty 1688-1030 B.C.) and Dao Chih, (a notorious and wicked robber)?
- Therefore it was said: "Banish Sages and abandon knowledge, and the people will benefit one hundred fold; terminate charity and injust justice, and the people will return to kindness and fulfill their filial duty. The Empire shall be well-ruled."
(5.) g. On Leveling All Things Through Tao
"He who insists on his own view has no clear view; he who justifies his own error sees no truth; he who boasts of his own achievements harms his credibility; he who behaves arrogantly experiences no growth in wisdom." (Lao Tzu, Ch. 24)
- Ench'eng Tseyu asked his teacher Tsuh'i of Nankuo: "Since the music of man is made from flutes and pipes, and since the music of earth is made by the winds through various holes and openings on the ground, from what is the music of Heaven made?"
- "The music of Heaven is also made by wind, but the effect of the wind through various apertures is not uniform, and the sounds produced reflect their individual capacities. But I don't know who is it that agitates their breasts?"
- "Great wisdom is generous, petty wisdom is contentious. Great speech is impassioned, small speech cantankerous."
- "Everyone has sexual desire, moods, emotional and psychological changes, etc. There is a close relationship among them all. Of course there must also be intelligence and wisdom, and together they govern a person's conduct. We shall name this combination of emotion and reason Heart-Intelligence. Heart-Intelligence is locked during sleep, but during waking hours when the body is active, it strives with the situation at hand. Some situations are easy and leisurely, some are deep and cunning, some are complex and devious, and some must remain secretive. Heart-Intelligence must struggle with the opposing forces while waiting for the best opportunity to attack in order to succeed. Small fears bring worry, large fears bring deep uneasiness that is difficult to control. An old Heart-intelligence, like a landscape subjected to autumn and winter blight, gradually decays. Additionally, it is submerged in its own occupation, kept running on its course, never to return to its original agility. Finally, worn out and imprisoned, it is choked like an old drain, and shall never see light again.
- "Joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, worries and regrets, indecision and fears, come up by turns with changing moods, like music created by wind in the hollows. Day and night, they alternate within us, but we cannot tell from where they spring. Could we for a moment lay our finger on their very cause?
- "But for these emotions, I shall not care. Is it possible to know by whose order this comes into play? It would seem that in each person's true self there is a guide controlling both emotions and reasoning. The guide of course is none other than Heart-Intelligence; but proof of its existence is hard to come by. Its function is credible enough, but it has no external form. Perhaps it has an inner reality with no outward form.
- "But whether or not we ascertain the true nature of Heart-Intelligence, it matters little. All things, even in the absence of a material form, possess an inner reality and exist until exhausted. Is this not just cause for grief?
- "Men say there is no death-and so what? The body decomposes, and Heart-Intelligence goes with it. Is this not cause for great sorrow? Can the world be so dull as not to see this? Now if we are to be guided by our prejudices, who shall be without a guide? Why do we need to compare right and wrong? Following one's own judgment according to one's own prejudice, even fools do this! But forming judgments about right and wrong without Heart-Intelligence is not possible.
- "The splitting of natural objects brings both success and destruction. They share the commonality of the "One." Insisting on our prejudices, we use natural objects to make practical things; it is all part of Nature, and learning lessons from Nature is the main path to understanding the Tao.
- "Where can Tao not be found? Where can words not be proved? Tao is plagued by inadequate understanding that obscures truth and fiction; words are obscured by flowery expressions which allow affirmation and denial to arise. Hence the affirmations and denials of the Confucians and Motseans, each denying what the other affirms, and affirming what the other denies, bring only confusion. They must immediately compare openly what they do and do not know. This will stop all unnecessary arguments.
- "Take for instance all the monumental transformation in our disorderly society. These transformations are leveled by Tao into "One." There is no such thing as Creation. Creation is the same as Destruction. These are also leveled together into "One."
- "Only the intelligent grasp the principle of leveling all things into One. They take refuge in functional, ordinary things and thereby understand the wholeness of Nature. From this wholeness, one comprehends; from comprehension one approaches the entire body of Tao, and stops. To stop without knowing how-This is Tao.
(5.) h. Conjoined Toes
- Conjoined toes and extra fingers exist in Nature, yet they are functionally superfluous. Goiters and tumors grow in the body, yet they too are superfluous. By the same token, doctrines of artificial charity and unfair justice do not represent the way of Tao.
- Who would be the ultimate judge who could decide that which is long but not excessive, or that which is short but sufficient? All possible worries and pains would be avoided. Human beings are part of Nature; to contradict Nature is to contradict Tao. If you divided your conjoined toes or bit off your extra finger, you would howl in pain. In one case there is too much, and in the other too little, but the pain and worries are all the same.
- Charity and justice are surely not inborn, yet you see how worried the charitable man appears to be. During these troubled times charitable men show their concern over present and future ills, while the uncharitable succumb to their greedy natures and undertake what they wish. Therefore, charity and justice are not a part of human nature.
- Each person acquires experience from exposure to his external environment. For example, a merchant would willingly die to protect his profit; a scholar would die for fame; a ruler would die for ancestral honor; a Sage would die for the sake of the world. The ambitions of these men differ, but the men all ultimately return to their roots.
- What Chuang Tzu considered good was not false charity and justice, but living in accord with the true nature of life. What he called good at hearing was the state of being attuned to himself. Conscious of his own deficiencies with regard to living in harmony with Tao, he did not venture to practice the principles of charity and justice on the one hand, nor to lead a life solely benefiting his own selfish desires.
(5.) i. On Opening Trunks
Banish Wisdom, Discard Knowledge; Banish Charity, Discard Justice (Lao Tzu, Ch. 19)
The Error of Replacing Virtue with Charity and Justice
- The precautions against thieves who open trunks, search bags, and ransack tills, consists of securing with cords and fastening with bolts and locks. This is what the world calls cleverness. But when a strong thief runs away with the till boxed and bagged upon his shoulders, his only fear is that the cords and locks aren't strong enough! I venture to say that the so-called cleverness was in saving up for the sole benefit of strong thieves.
- How can this be shown? In the state of Ch'i the neighboring towns overlooked one another. One could hear the barking of dogs and crowing of cocks in the neighboring town. Within its boundaries, it had two thousand acres for food production. The people of Ch'i dedicated a temple to god and chose a governor in accordance with rules laid down by the Sages. Yet one morning, T'ien Ch'engtse slaughtered the ruler of Ch'i and stole his kingdom along with the wisdom from the Sages. T'ien acquired the reputation of a thief but lived securely as ever, and the state of Ch'i continued to exist for twelve generations.
- How could this happen? Whosoever stole a hook must hang like a crook; whosoever stole a kingdom became a duke. T'ien Ch'engtse was a thief of charity and justice. Replacing Virtue with charity and justice was the error of the Sages.
- This is why we say: Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, and gangsters will stop! Fling away jade and destroy pearls, and petty thieves will cease. Trample all the institutions of Sages, and the people can then be fit for discussing Tao.
(5.) j. Horses Hooves
When the big Tao is destroyed, clarity and duty arise; when wisdom appears, the big hypocrisy follows (Lao Tzu, Ch. 18)
- When the Sages appeared crawling in charity and limping with justice, doubt and confusion entered the minds of people. The Sages insisted upon making music to cheer people, and enforced subjective class distinctions by means of ceremony, and the empire became divided against itself. If white jade were left uncut, who would make sacrificial vessels? If Tao and Virtue were not destroyed, what need would there be for charity and justice? The error of the Sages was in destroying Tao and Virtue for the sake of charity and justice.
- In old times, people did nothing in particular at home and never ventured far away. Having food, they happily tapped their bellies. When people's basic needs were met, they were satisfied. But at ceremonies the Sages made them bow and bend in order to regulate their external form, and simultaneously dangled the lessons of charity and justice before them in order to keep their minds in submission. Then people began to acquire and develop self-serving knowledge, and to fight and struggle amongst themselves in their endless desire to benefit themselves and get ahead. This was also due to the error the Sages
- Horses have hooves to carry them over frost and snow, and hair to protect them from wind and severe winters. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their tails and gallop when they wish. Such is the true nature of horses. One day Polo, the self-claimed horse trainer, appeared saying: "I am good at training horses." So he bound the horses' hair and clipped it, and pared their hooves. He put halters on their backs and shackles around their legs, and branded numbers on their bodies to indicate their stables. Very soon two or three out of ten horses died. He kept them hungry and thirsty, trotting them and galloping them, and having them run in formation. The horses suffered the tasseled bridle in front and feared the strong whips from behind, until more than half of the remaining horses died. Clearly the performance by this horse expert left much to be desired. But he had neither reason nor desire to improve because he felt he was already so successfully controlling the horses with unchallenged power.
- Therefore it is said: "When the big Tao is destroyed, charity and justice arise; when wisdom appears, the big hypocrisy follows."
- The Divergent Philosophical Ideas of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu
- Do not Polo's horse training actions resemble the overweening pride of a tyrant king who mismanages state affairs with absolute self-confidence? Surprisingly, Chuang Tzu uttered not a word of criticism. There are many possible reasons for his silence: he may have valued his own personal freedom more than the society in which he lived, or he may have cared little about charity and justice, thus taking a disconnected attitude, or he may have silently approved the king's actions. Regardless of Chuang Tzu's reason, he actually opposed Lao Tzu's belief in this case.
- Lao Tzu had written: (3) (4): "Though a sword may be made very sharp, its sharpness cannot last long (Lao Tzu, Ch. 4)," also, "Hard and strong belong to the company of death; soft and weak to the company of life. Strong and big are inferior, soft and weak are superior (Lao Tzu, Ch. 76), " Chuang Tzu did not write a single word in this vein. Likewise, regarding Lao Tzu's belief that leaders should adopt people's ideas as their own (Lao Tzu, Ch. 49), Chuang Tzu also expressed no opinion. The divergence of their philosophical thoughts thus becomes quite clear. Regardless of Chuang Tzu's true reason, in this case as well his philosophy contradicts Lao Tzu's.
- Possibly Chuang Tzu considered Lao Tzu's concept no longer relevant to his contemporary socio-political context. Lao Tzu's concept did not affect the power of those who managed the empire. But he believed that power, once secured, must be used in order to rule. In other words, the position of leadership would not be obtained by the weak. This could be a reasonable explanation for Chuang Tzu's divergence from Lao Tzu.
- Concluding Remarks by Chuang Tzu
- Chuang Tzu's final chapter, "Under the Heaven," is recognized by most scholars to be his own writing. Chuang Tzu considered the Tao ideally gentle, and the pursuit of achievement to be coarse; he believed that hoarding is motivated by the ingrained human desire for more. A follower of Tao must maintain a pure and all-prevailing Wu Wei spirit. Tao, according to Lao Tzu, is characterized by emptiness, calmness, and nothingness. For instance, a male might have tremendous physical abilities but refuse to show it; instead he may choose to show female gentleness and receptivity to all things in Nature, like a big river receiving multiple springs by staying below them. Everyone in the self-centered world strives for power and wealth, but only Lao Tzu was willing to remain behind. He wrote: "The Sage who leads the people must leave his body behind them. Whoever stays above the people must declare his intention to serve (Lao Tzu, Ch 66)." Everyone wanted to get ahead of all others, but only Lao Tzu remained empty for he was already satisfied. He did not hoard yet had leftovers. Everyone was seeking success and fortune, but Lao Tzu was interested only in safety. "I am satisfied if I can avoid trouble," he wrote. Also, "A strong army is bound to be destroyed, and a strong wood cut down." (Lao Tzu, Ch. 76) Chuang Tzu did not even mention concepts such as these.
- Chuang Tzu concludes: Lao Tzu is the great Perfect Person in history. He himself was leveled with the One and with spirit of Nature. He maintains his spirit apart from all things but never left the main body of Tao. A Sage like himself is a true Man of Heaven. This implies that he had the appearance of a Sage with Tao inside.
1. The Writer's Commentaries
- Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu have many identical views about Tao. The ways in which their views differ reflect not only the different societies and times in which they lived, but more importantly, their personalities. The similar thoughts of these two major philosophers comprise the main body of Tao, but in applying Lao Tzu's thought to the time of Chuang Tzu more than 300 years later, the divergences and disagreements are as numerous as they are deep. Lao Tzu was the first Chinese philosopher and the initiator of the concept of Tao. He used only some five thousand characters to present his philosophy which covered not only a multitude of human problems but also the political background of his era. In reading Lao Tzu's severe criticism of the oppression of common people by the king and highly placed in society, one cannot help but admire his great contribution to social and political thought.
- Chuang Tzu, being a realistic philosopher, believed that softness and weakness were not traits that could be used to govern. His only choice was to go along with the King. Chuang Tzu tried to merge the main body of his philosophy with the great Tao in order to reach a higher level. He related the accomplishments of former sages to convince people of the value of Tao and Te; he created fictional conversations and events in order to broaden people's minds. Confident that his own Tao and Te to be solid he declared that he could play with the Creator above and be friend to those believing in no life and death, no beginning and termination below. Such thought could only be entertained by those who lived spiritually outside of the real world. Although some of Chuang Tzu's writing was close to mysticism, his contribution to Chinese culture and excellent contribution to philosophy makes him a great man in history.
- Many scholars still consider the thoughts of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu to be the same. On the other hand, should we adopt a new approach of studying them separately, for there are new concepts to be discovered. Certainly we may find the reasons for the differences between Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Tao and Nature are one, and scientists are working hard to uncover more of Nature's secrets. Ideally philosophers will continue to improve their understanding the substance of Tao by following a different path from the scientists who pursue the same goal. The contributions of Lu's Ch'un Chi'u, Huai-Nan Tzu and the establishment of Zen Buddhism as one of the world's most important religions are rewarding examples for present and future scholars to follow. In recent years new books on Chuang Tzu have been published (4)(5), and the number of interested readers has greatly increased. If we persist, the best for Taoism is yet to come, and its future appears very bright!
- Chuang Tzu, with Commentary by Kuo Shiang, Chung Hwa Book Company, Taiwan, 1973.
- Cheng, Hong, A New Interpretation of Lao Tzu's Thought, Global Cultural Enterprise, Ltd., New Jersey, 2000
- Cheng, Hong, "Lao Tzu - The World-Renowned but Misunderstood Philosopher," Yan Huang Quarterly, Beijing, 2000.
- Cheng, David Hong, On Lao Tzu, Wadsworth Philosophers Series, Belmont, California, 2000.(in English)
- Chen, K. Y., Current Translation and current Interpretation of Chuang Tzu, Chung Hwa Book Company, Taiwan, 1984.
My daughter Gloria, a much-acclaimed pianist and champion of contemporary music, was mindful of my boring hours after retirement. She began to purchase gift books for me about Lao Tzu, the world-renowned Chinese philosopher of the 6th century B.C. Her thoughtfulness motivated me to become seriously interested in Lao Tzu. As a result, in the year 2000 I had two books published. The first was "On Lao Tzu," as part of the series published by Wadsworth Philosophers Series; the other, "A New Interpretation of Lao Tzu's Thought" in Chinese. An article entitled, "Lao Tzu: The World-Renowned but Misunderstood Philosopher in History," will soon appear in the Yanghuang Quarterly in Beijing. The present article comparing the philosophies of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu was again the result of Gloria's encouragement. For her I have love, respect, gratitude, and much more.
Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Paul Tsao, Professor Emeritus of the William Paterson University for his assistance and encouragement.