My dear Kacvey,
Let us retreat for a moment to a quiet corner and reflect on what Zhuangzi 庄子 had said in his “On the Uniformity of All Things 齐物论”
This is how the story goes:
“Long, long ago, King Yao 尧 asked his minister Shun 舜, “I’d like to attack the three tribes of Zong 宗, Kuai 脍 and Xu’ao 胥敖. But whenever I come to court, I feel ill at ease about them. What do you think about it?”
Shun answered: Three states lie in the remote regions over grown with weeds and bushes. Why should you feel ill at ease about them? Once upon a time, when ten suns shone in the sky, everything under Heaven was bathed in the sunshine. And how your virtue out-shined those suns!”
Nie Que 啮缺 asked Wang Ni 王倪, “Do you know, Sir, whether all things make judgments in the same way?”
Wang answered, “How can I know?”
Nie asked again, “Do you know, Sir, what you do not know?”
Wang answered, “How can I know?”
Nie said, “Then, is it that nothing can be known about anything?”
Wang said, “How can I know? Still, let me try to explain. How do you know that what I say I know is not what I do not know? How do you know that what I say I do not know is not what I know? Now I’d like to ask you a few questions. If a man sleeping in the damp is liable to get a back ache or half-paralysis, will the same thing happen to an eel? If a man sitting in a tree is liable to tremble with fear, will the same thing happen to an ape? Of the man, the eel and the ape who knows their proper place to live in? Men eat meat; deer feed on grass; centipedes are fond of snake; owls like rats. Of the man, the deer, the centipede and the owl, who knows the right taste? An ape mates with a gibbon; a buck seeks after a doe; an eel plays with a fish. At the sight of Maoqiang 毛嬙 and Xishi 西施, beauties admired by men, the fish will dive into the deep water, the birds will soar high in the sky, and the deer will take to their heels. Of the man, the fish, the bird and the deer, who knows the real beauty? As I see it, the principles of righteousness and humaneness, the standards of right and wrong, all these things are so complicated that I can hardly tell which is which.
Nie Que said, “If you cannot tell benefit from harm, can’t the perfect man tell benefit from harm?”
Wang Ni said, “The perfect man is divine. Even though the great swamp were set on fire, he would not feel the heat; even though the rivers were frozen, he would not feel the cold; even though the thunder hit the mountain and the whirlwind shook the sea, he would not feel the shock. Such a man can ride the clouds and mists, mount the sun and the moon, and travel beyond the four seas. How can a man unaffected by life bother about benefit and harm?”
Ququezi 瞿鹊子 asked Changwuzi, “I have heard from Confucius that the sage is not involved in worldly affairs. He does not try to seek after benefits or avoid harms; he does not take delight in seeking after or blindly clinging to Dao 道. He says something by saying nothing; he does not say anything by saying something. By so doing he can travel beyond the dust of the world. Confucius 孔子 thought that these words were ambiguous, but I think this is how the wondrous Dao works. What do you about it?”
Changwuzi 长梧子 said, “Even the Yellow Emperor 皇帝 would have been puzzled by those words; how could Confucius understand them? And you, too, are jumping to conclusions – you see an egg and expect the cock to crow before it is hatched; you see a crossbow pellet and expect to roast the owl before it is shot down. I’ll give you some random remarks for you to listen at random.
“Why don’t you lean against the sun and the moon and embrace the universe? In this way, you will merge yourself in everything in the world so that you can ignore the confusion of distinction and treat the inferiors as supporters. The rank and file hustle and bustle while the sage seems to be stupid and ignorant , blending ten thousand years into one uniformity. He looks upon everything in the same way and accept them all.
“How do I know that love of life is not a delusion? How do I know that one who fears death is not like a waif who does not want to go back home? Lady Li 丽姬 was the daughter of a border guard of Ai 艾. When she was first taken captive and brought to the state of Jin 晋, she wept till her robe was drenched with tears. But when she was brought to the palace, slept with the prince on his comfortable bed, and ate delicious meal on his table, she began to regret her tears. How do I know that the dead do not regret that they ever long for life?
“A man may dream of a great feast but weep at daybreak; a man may dream of weeping but go hunting at daybreak. When he dreams he does not know that he is dreaming. In his dream, he may even try to interpret the dream; but when he awakes, he knows that he has been dreaming. Only after he is totally awakened does he realize that all was a grand dream. All the while, the fool thinks that he himself is awake, seemingly aware of everything; who is the lord, who is the shepherd, how stupid! Confucius and you are both dreaming, and I too am dreaming when I say that you are dreaming. These words to be a paradox, but after ten thousand generations there might appear a sage who knows how to explain them – it will seem as if we met within the day.
“Suppose that you and I argue over something . If you win and I lose, are you indeed right, and am I indeed wrong? If I win and you lose, am I indeed right and are you indeed wrong? Is one of us right and the other wrong? Are both of us right or both of us wrong? If neither you nor I can know, other people will be even more in the dark. Whom shall I ask to decide for us? Shall I ask someone who agrees with you to decide? If he already agrees with you, how can he decide it? Shall I ask some one who agrees with me to decide? If he already agrees with, how can he decide it? Shall I ask someone who disagrees with both of us to decide? If he already disagrees with both of us, how can he decide it? Shall I ask some who agrees with both of us to decide? If he already agrees with both of us , how can he decide it? If neither you nor I can know, who else shall we wait for?
“The different voices in an argument are in opposition to each other. To smooth out the opposition is to conform to the natural division of things as it is till the very end. What if meant by conforming to the natural division of things? My answer would be that “right” may be not “right” and “so” may be not “so”. If “right’ is really right, then “right ” is so different from “not right” that there is no need for argument; if “so” is really so, then “so” is so different from “not so” that there is again no need for argument. Forget about the time, forget about the distinctions, and you will be able to travel in the realm of the infinite. Therefore the sage lives in the realm of the infinite.”
“The penumbra asked the shadow, “A little while ago you were moving when the man walked, and now you are standing still when the man stops; a little while ago you were sitting when the man sat, and now you are standing up when the man rises. How is it that you lack independent actions?”
The shadow answered, “Don’t I have to depend on the man to be what I am? Doesn’t the man have to depend on something else in turn to be what he is? Do I have to depend on the snake’s scale, or the cicada’s wings? How can I know why I do this? How can I know why I don’t do that?”
“I, by the name of Zhuang Zhou 庄周, once dreamed that I was a butterfly, a butterfly fluttering happily here and there. I was so pleased that I forgot that I was Zhuang Zhou. When I suddenly woke up, I was astonished to find that I was as a matter of fact Zhuang Zhou. Did Zhuang Zhou dream of the butterfly or did the butterfly dream of Zhuang Zhou? Between Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinctions. This is called “the transformation of things.”
Kacvey, do have a nice dream of colorful and beautiful butterflies!