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Spiritual Independence Teacher: Chuang Tzu

Spiritual Independence

Excerpt from Attaining Unlimited Life – Teachings of Chuang Tzu
Chapter 13, Note 8
Pages 89 – 91
Translated and written by Hua-Ching Ni, author, teacher and healer

Chuang Tzu said: “In the neighborhood of the Yen gateway, upon the death of his parent, a son practiced many austerities in mourning which demonstrated his filial piety and ability to follow procedures.

The officials therefore game him a high post in the government. His relatives thereupon al practiced similar austerities, hoping to receive the same honor, and almost half of them died.

“Excellence leads to fame, and fame turns into artificial behaviour or notoriety. Crisis or urgency brings about scheming.

Obstinacy or stubbornness results in stupidity. Government is effective when there is general consent to its actions, while forceful interference brings forth calamity.

“Spring rains arrive as always, and new plants and bushes push up from under the earth. The life force of most of the plants have been turned under, and now come out again; for that and the most part of nature, nobody knows how it all happens.

“Relaxation brings health to the sick. Massaging the corners of the eyes eases tiredness. Quiet and peacefulness will disperse anxieties.

These cures, however, are only necessary for those who are in need. The man who is in good condition does not need them and never bothers to ask about them. When the world is normal, no one bothers anyone else unnecessarily.

“The man of divinity does not pay attention to that which the Sage finds amazing in the world.

The Sage does not pay attention to that which the truly virtuous man delights in with regard to his surroundings.

The truly virtuous man does not pay attention to how the petty men adapt themselves to the conditions of their society.

“If the eye is not blocked, there is sight. If the ear is not blocked, there is hearing. If the nose is not blocked, there is smell.

If the mouth is not blocked, there is taste. If the mind is not blocked, there is wisdom. If wisdom is not blocked, one finds Teh, also known as virtue.

“Tao may not be blocked. To block is to choke. Choking causes disorder; disorder harms all life.

“The wisest of creatures is especially careful with its breathing. If his breathing is not perfect, nature cannot be blamed. It is only man who bothers to close his openings.

If air does not reach him in sufficient quantity, it is not the trouble of this body, but of the individual’s absent mind. Air is supplied day and night without cease; only man neglects its importance.

“The body is a cavity of hollows arranged in layers. The heart is the seat of Heaven. If a house has no empty space, the wife and her mother-in-law begin to quarrel. If the mind cannot roam to Heaven, the senses become overextended.

“Those who would be benefitted by living in deep forests or lofty mountains are simply unequal to those who expose their lives to the strain of working in the world.

Being a hermit is not enough, because the mind does not work well without healthy stimulation from normal life in the world.

“If one is able to enjoy one’s own nature, then wherever he goes he can still enjoy himself. If a person is unable to enjoy his own nature, then wherever he goes he will not enjoy himself.

Some people wish to enjoy themselves, and so they set their mind to escape practical life by renouncing the world. That is not the achievement of a person of Tao and great virtue.

These people are self-indulgent in their thoughts and emotions. They think this is the way. Such a person does what he likes emotionally, stumbles about and falls, but does not turn back. He races as though he were on fire and does not look in front of him.

“For instance, glorifying past ages and achievements and condemning one’s present life, or vice versa, has always been the psychological way of people.

Yet if they were like His Wei Shih, the sage before Fu Shi, and other spiritually developed ones of that time, they would learn to accommodate themselves to the age they live in and the present stage of their development.

“Only one of perfect nature can transcend the limits of human life and yet not withdraw from the world.

Such one lives in harmony with mankind, yet suffers no injury himself from it. He disregards the world’s teachings. He has something within himself that makes him independent of others.”

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