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Mair 16:2

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The ancients, in the midst of chaos, were tranquil together with the whole world.  At that time, yin and yang were harmoniously still, ghosts and spirits caused no disturbances; the four seasons came in good time; the myriad things went unharmed; the host of living creatures escaped premature death.  Although men had knowledge, there was no use for it.  This was called ultimate unity.  At that time, there was no action but only constant spontaneity.

This condition persisted until integrity deteriorated to the point that Torchman {{A mythical inventor of fire.}} and Fuhsi arose to manage all under heaven, whereupon there was accord, but no longer unity.  Integrity further declined until the Divine Farmer {{The mythical emperor, Shennung, who was the supposed inventor of agriculture.}} and the Yellow Emperor arose to manage all under heaven, whereupon there was repose, but no longer accord.  Integrity declined still further until T'ang and Yŭ {{The mythical rulers, Yao and Shun, here named after the principalities they inherited.}} arose to manage all under heaven.

They initiated the fashion of governing by transformation, whereby purity was diluted and simplicity dissipated.  In their action, they parted from the Way; in their behavior, they endangered integrity.  After that they deserted their nature and followed their mind.  One mind recognized the knowledge of another mind, but it was not sufficient to bring stability to all under heaven.  After that, they appended culture and added erudition.  Culture {{In a narrower and more specific sense, the same sinograph (wen) signified "writing."  In a broader and more basic sense, it signified "elegant pattern."}} destroyed substance, and erudition drowned mind.  After that, the people began to be confused and disordered, without any means to return to their natural emotions or to revert to their origins.  Viewed from this vantage, when the world forsook the Way, the Way forsook the world.  The world and the Way having mutually forsaken each other, there was no wherewithal for the man of the Way to have an impact upon the world, nor for the world to have an impact upon the Way.  When there are no means for the Way to have an impact on the world, nor for the world to have an impact on the Way, even though the sage does not stay among mountains and forests, his integrity will remain hidden, hidden, but decidedly not hidden of his own volition.

Those whom the ancients called "hidden scholars" did not fail to reveal themselves by concealing their persons; did not fail to issue their ideas by refusing to speak; did not fail to present their knowledge by treasuring it away.  It was because the mandate of the times was greatly out of kilter.  If they had received the mandate of the times and been able to carry it out widely for all under heaven, they would have returned to the unity that leaves no traces.  Not having received the mandate of the times and greatly stymied by all under heaven, they sunk their roots deep in utter tranquillity and waited.  That is the Way they preserved in their persons.

Those ancients who preserved their persons did not decorate their knowledge with disputation.  They did not impoverish all under heaven with their knowledge, nor did they impoverish integrity with their knowledge.  They stayed aloof in their own place and returned to their own nature, doing nothing whatsoever.  Indeed, the Way does not consist of petty behavior, nor does integrity consist of petty recognition.  Petty recognition harms integrity; petty behavior harms the Way.  Therefore, it is said, "Rectify yourself and that is all".

Complete joy may be called attainment of the will.  In ancient times, what was called "attainment of the will" did not mean getting carriages and crowns.  It simply meant there was nothing that could be added to one's joy.  What is nowadays called "attainment of the will" means getting carriages and crowns.  But carriages and crowns pertain to the body, having nothing to do with one's nature and destiny.  Things that come unexpectedly remain with us only temporarily.  Being temporary, their coming cannot be controlled, and their going cannot be stopped.  Hence, do not gratify the will with carriages and crowns; do not indulge in vulgarity because of impoverishment and privation - the joys of the former are similar to those of the latter.  Thus, simply do not worry.  If what is temporarily with us now leaves us and our joy is lost, then although it brought joy, it must have been false.  Therefore it is said, "Those who forsake themselves for things, who lose their nature for vulgarity, are called topsy-turvy people."
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