Chuang Tzu Chapter 5, Section B

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Section B


Shen-tu Jia was (another) man who had lost his feet. Along with Zi-chan of Zheng he studied under the master Bo-hun Wu-ren. Zi-chan said to him (one day), 'If I go out first, do you remain behind; and if you go out first, I will remain behind.' Next day they were again sitting together on the same mat in the hall, when Zi-chan spoke the same words to him, adding, 'Now I am about to go out; will you stay behind or not? Moreover, when you see one of official rank (like myself), you do not try to get out of his way - do you consider yourself equal to one of official rank?'


Shen-tu Jia replied, 'In our Master's school is there indeed such recognition required of official rank? You are one, Sir, whose pleasure is in your official rank, and would therefore take precedence of other men. I have heard that when a mirror is bright, the dust does not rest on it; when dust rests on it the mirror is not bright. When one dwells long with a man of ability and virtue, he comes to be without error. There now is our teacher whom you have chosen to make you greater than you are; and when you still talk in this way, are you not in error?' Zi-chan rejoined, 'A (shattered) object as you are, you would still strive to make yourself out as good as Yao! If I may form an estimate of your virtue, might it not be sufficient to lead you to the examination of yourself?'


The other said, 'Most criminals, in describing their offences, would make it out that they ought not to have lost (their feet) for them; few would describe them so as to make it appear that they should not have preserved their feet. They are only the virtuous who know that such a calamity was unavoidable, and therefore rest in it as what was appointed for them. When men stand before (an archer like) Yi with his bent bow, if they are in the middle of his field, that is the place where they should be hit; and if they be not hit, that also was appointed. There are many with their feet entire who laugh at me because I have lost my feet, which makes me feel vexed and angry. But when I go to our teacher, I throw off that feeling, and return (to a better mood) - he has washed, without my knowing it, the other from me by (his instructions in) what is good. I have attended him now for nineteen years, and have not known that I am without my feet. Now, you, Sir, and I have for the object of our study the (virtue) which is internal, and not an adjunct of the body, and yet you are continually directing your attention to my external body - are you not wrong in this?' Zi-chan felt uneasy, altered his manner and looks, and said, 'You need not, Sir, say anything more about it.'

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Mr Mair...


Shent'u Chia had been mutilated by having one of his feet cut

off. He and Kungsun Sir Ch'an, prime minister of the state of

Cheng, were studying together under Uncle Obscure Nobody.

"Either I leave first and you stay here," Sir Ch' an said to Shent'u

Chia, "or you leave first and I stay here." The next day they sat

down together on the same mat in the hall. "Either I leave first

and you stay here;" Sir Ch'an said to Shent'u Chia, "or you leave

first and I stay here. Now I am about to leave. Can you stay here

for a while or not? Moreover, when you see a minister of state

and do not step aside for him, do you consider yourself his



"Is there really a minister of state such as this studying in our

master's school?" asked Shent'u Chia. "Are you so pleased with

your prime ministership that you would look down on others? I

have heard it said: `If a mirror is bright, dust and dirt will not

settle on it; if they settle on it, then the mirror is not bright. If

one associates with wise men for long, he will be faultless.' Now,

the great one with whom you have chosen to study is our master,

and yet you utter words such as these. Isn't this a bit much?"

"In spite of the fact that you are like this;" said Sir Ch'an,

"you would still contest with Yao over who's the better man. If

you take stock of your own virtue, shouldn't that be enough to

prompt you to self-reflection?"


"Many are those who gloss over their own faults, believing

they ought not to suffer;" said Shent'u Chia." Few are those who

do not gloss over their own faults, believing they ought not to be

spared. Only a person of integrity can recognize the inevitable

and accept it as his destiny. It is only destiny that prevents

someone who wanders within range of the archer's bow from

being struck. There are many people who laugh at me for

having only one foot because they have both of their feet. It

makes me boiling mad, but when I come here to the master's

place, I return to my former placidity. Perhaps it's because the

master purifies me with his goodness. I have wandered with him

for nineteen years already, but he has never made me aware of my

mutilation. Now you and I are wandering inside of the physical

body, but you keep drawing me outside. Isn't that a bit much?"

Shuffling his feet with shame, Sir Ch'an changed his expres-

sion and said sedately, "Mention no more about it, sir."

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