- Chuang Tzu, translated by T.M.
I know about letting the world alone, not interfering.
I do not know about running things.
Letting things alone:
so that men will not blow their nature out of shape!
so that men will not be changed into something they are not!
When men do not get twisted and maimed beyond recognition,
when they are allowed to live,
the purpose of government is achieved.
Too much pleasure?
Yang has too much influence.
Too much suffering?
Yin has too much influence.
When one of these outweighs the other,
it is as if the seasons came at the wrong times.
The balance of cold and heat is destroyed;
the body of man suffers.
Too much happiness, too much unhappiness,
out of due time, men are thrown off balance.
What will they do next?
Thought runs wild. No control.
They start everything, finish nothing.
Here competition begins,
here the idea of excellence is born,
and robbers appear in the world.
Now the whole world is not enough reward for the “good,”
nor enough punishment for the “wicked.”
Since now the world itself is not big enough
for reward or punishment.
From the time of the Three Dynasties men have been running in all directions.
How can they find time to be human?
You train your eye and your vision lusts after color.
You train your ear, and you long for delightful sound.
You delight in doing good, and your natural kindness is blown out of shape.
You delight in righteousness, and you become righteous beyond all reason.
You overdo liturgy, and you turn into a ham actor.
Overdo your love of music, and you play corn.
Love of wisdom leads to wise contriving.
Love of knowledge leads to faultfinding.
If men would stay as they really are,
taking or leaving these eight delights would make no difference.
But if they will not rest in their right state,
the eight delights develop like malignant tumors.
The world falls into confusion.
Since men honor these delights,
and lust after them,
the world has gone stone-blind.
When the delight is over,
they still will not let go of it:
they surround its memory with ritual worship,
they fall on their knees to talk about it,
play music and sing,
fast and discipline themselves in honor
of the eight delights.
When the delights become a religion,
how can you control them?
The wise man, then,
when he must govern,
knows how to do nothing.
Letting things alone,
he rests in his original nature.
He who will govern will respect the governed
no more than he respects himself.
If he loves his own person enough to let it rest in its original truth,
he will govern others without hurting them.
Let him keep the deep drives in his own guts from going into action.
Let him keep still, not looking, not hearing.
Let him sit like a corpse,
with the dragon power alive all around him.
In complete silence, his voice will be like thunder.
His movements will be invisible, like those of a spirit,
but the powers of heaven will go with them.
Unconcerned, doing nothing,
he will see all things grow ripe around him.
Where will he find time to govern?