Mig

A.C. Graham

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Have someone read his Zhuangzi translation? Any opinion or help to share reading his translation? I have Mair but I find it a good reading as a past time reading not as a reference translation to understand the original text or how Zhuangzi writings is understood in Chinese culture. Is it really worth to buy it if one is interested in learning more about ZZ philosophy, the meaning of his parables and how is interpreted or taught in the Chinese culture?

Thanks

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On 4/23/2021 at 2:12 AM, Mig said:

Have someone read his Zhuangzi translation? Any opinion or help to share reading his translation? I have Mair but I find it a good reading as a past time reading not as a reference translation to understand the original text or how Zhuangzi writings is understood in Chinese culture. Is it really worth to buy it if one is interested in learning more about ZZ philosophy, the meaning of his parables and how is interpreted or taught in the Chinese culture?

Thanks

 

Graham's translation attempts to sort Chuang Tzu's writing from the morass of writings that make up the Chuang Tzu. It is worth reading for that reason alone. The only other translation that does this is the new translation by Christopher Tricker (that's me). My new translation picks up the baton that Graham left some 40 years ago. You can check it out at http://thecicadaandthebird.com

 

Graham's translation includes a good introduction--he discusses some of the key terms, and the historical context of the text. Note, thought, that he doesn't interpret the parables.

 

My new translation also includes a commentary--after each parable I provide an interpretation. You might find my book useful as a launch-pad for forming your own interpretations? If you do look at my book, please let me know what you make of it. I'd love to hear your response. 

Edited by Christopher Tricker
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2 hours ago, Christopher Tricker said:

 

Graham's translation attempts to sort Chuang Tzu's writing from the morass of writings that make up the Chuang Tzu. It is worth reading for that reason alone. The only other translation that does this is the new translation by Christopher Tricker (that's me). My new translation picks up the baton that Graham left some 40 years ago. You can check it out at http://thecicadaandthebird.com

 

Graham's translation includes a good introduction--he discusses some of the key terms, and the historical context of the text. Note, thought, that he doesn't interpret the parables.

 

My new translation also includes a commentary--after each parable I provide an interpretation. You might find my book useful as a launch-pad for forming your own interpretations? If you do look at my book, please let me know what you make of it. I'd love to hear your response. 

Thank you for your kind response. It is interesting that you are the first one who made a remark about Graham translation in this forum on this posting. I took a quick look of your website and I was struck about still using an old transliteration imposed by the English speakers of that era with the help of local native scholars. Pinyin, although not perfect, maybe the Korean hangeul is more precise by its phonological notation, still widely accepted, just like Latin alphabet is accepted around the world. More curious, is that even pinyin still taught in schools, people forget to add the accents or tones, just like you do when you spell words in French. Something that I have noticed that most translations miss the cultural, philosophical and linguistic aspect just like Zhuangzi and Confucius are great gateways to understanding the heart and world of Chinese intellectuals, both in the past and today.

So now, I am curious to know where those commentaries come from? Is that your proper interpretation from the point of view of a western European?

Thanks

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3 hours ago, Mig said:

I took a quick look of your website and I was struck about still using an old transliteration imposed by the English speakers of that era with the help of local native scholars. Pinyin, although not perfect, maybe the Korean hangeul is more precise by its phonological notation, still widely accepted, just like Latin alphabet is accepted around the world.

 

Yes, I use the Wade-Giles transliterations (romanisations) rather than Pinyin. You are right to question that. Here's my reason for doing so. (What follows is pasted from the introduction to my book. My apologies if it over-explains things for you, but the over-explanation might help other readers to see the context in which romanisations exist.)

 

Romanisations.

  Chuang Tzu’s name isn’t really Chuang Tzu. It’s 莊子.

  To render 莊子 into English-like words we have to use roman-alphabet letters (a, b, c) to represent a phonetic pronunciation of  . This process is called romanisation.

  There have been many different systems for romanising Chinese sinographs. Each system has its pros and cons, but let’s note how no system is, or ever could be, inherently better than any other. A romanised word, be it ‘Chuang Tzu’, or ‘Zhuangzi’, or any other combination of letters, is not, and is not even close to being, the original Chinese: 莊子. Because of this it doesn’t matter which system we use. Whatever system we choose the only thing to recommend it over another will be that we just happen to prefer it, for whatever reasons, and that it is a system that other people in the community are using.

  The most widely used system in the English-speaking community in the twentieth century was Wade-Giles, according to which 莊子 is rendered ‘Chuang Tzu’. In the 1950s, however, China adopted the Pinyin system, according to which 莊子 is rendered ‘Zhuangzi’, and over the last few decades this has become the almost universally-used system in the English-speaking world, all but replacing Wade-Giles.

  In this book I use a combination of modified Wade-Giles romanisations and Pinyin romanisations.

~

In the translation, I use modified Wade-Giles romanisations.

  Why use the out-of-date Wade-Giles spellings (‘Chuang Tzu’) instead of the current, almost universally-used Pinyin spellings (‘Zhuangzi’)? Because, whereas the printed words ‘Chuang Tzu’ are rounded, warm, and convey a sense of Eastern antiquity, ‘Zhuangzi’ is a harsh neon-lit nightmare of futuristic zeds.

  Given that Pinyin (‘Zhuangzi’) is the official romanisation system of China, and the United Nations, and Stanford University, and—Ah, it is inevitable, I know, that ‘Chuang Tzu’ will die out and become completely replaced by ‘Zhuangzi’. But, and call it what you will—I’m holding on to ‘Chuang Tzu’.

  Just as some Pinyin words are horrendous (e.g., Zhuangzi), so too are some Wade-Giles words—e.g., Ch’u (what the heck does that apostrophe mean?) and I (no, not a first-person pronoun; a Chinese name pronounced ee). In these cases the Pinyin is much better: Chu and Yi. So instead of Ch’u I write Chu. Instead of I, Yi.

  Sometimes the Wade-Giles spelling for different sinographs is the same. For example, the states Wei  and Wei . To distinguish the two, I spell one of them Wey ().

  If you want to know the correct Wade-Giles spelling or the Pinyin spelling of a name, look it up in the glossary. There you’ll find the unmodified Wade-Giles spelling, the Pinyin spelling, and the sinograph.

~

In my translation notes, when referring to sinographs I use italicised Pinyin (e.g., xin ).

 

In regard to "using an old transliteration imposed by the English speakers of that era"--you make me aware of an issue I hadn't given much thought to. Perhaps you see my using the old Wade-Giles romanisations as being insensitive to issues of Western imperialism? If so ... I do apologise. In my defence, I may be blind to current issues. My reason for using the Wade-Giles is purely to do with my dislike of the printed word "Zhuangzi" in English. For me, it is not an issue of West versus Chinese. It is an issue of zeds. This whole romanisation thing is very complex and unsatisfactory. I've read that there is even a movement within China to replace Chinese characters with Pinyin entirely! (For my two cents, that would be a disaster for Chinese culture!) In the end, the Chinese characters are beautiful. The English romanisations are not. 

Edited by Christopher Tricker
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2 hours ago, Mig said:

Something that I have noticed that most translations miss the cultural, philosophical and linguistic aspect just like Zhuangzi and Confucius are great gateways to understanding the heart and world of Chinese intellectuals, both in the past and today.

So now, I am curious to know where those commentaries come from? Is that your proper interpretation from the point of view of a western European?

Thanks

 

I am a Western European (well, Australian), so everything I say is from that point of view. If you want a commentary from a Chinese point of view, then my book may not satisfy you. But may I say this: I do not think that Chinese scholars have any special insight into Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). The world in which Chuang Tzu lived is not at all the world in which modern Chinese folk live. Also, even the early Chinese interpreters of Chuang Tzu may well have not understood him, just as the early Western interpreters of Nietzsche did not understand him.

 

My approach to Chuang Tzu is this: (1) Read the text. (2) As best I can, understand the cultural references that Chuang Tzu makes in his text. (3) Present my interpretation simply and clearly, so that the reader can come to their own conclusions.

 

My view of Chuang Tzu is that he is one of those rare philosophers who transcends culture. Like the Greek Stoics. You don't need to be Greek to interpret the Stoics, you just need to be a human. And if a Greek person claimed to have a special insight to the Stoics, they would be wrong. This is because the Stoics write about the human condition. Chuang Tzu is like that.

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1 hour ago, Christopher Tricker said:

… In the translation, I use modified Wade-Giles romanisations. …

 

I prefer pinyin.

 

1 hour ago, Christopher Tricker said:

… I do not think that Chinese scholars have any special insight into Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). The world in which Chuang Tzu lived is not at all the world in which modern Chinese folk live. …


I think the same applies to the Laozi. 

 

Edited by Cobie
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1 hour ago, Christopher Tricker said:

But may I say this: I do not think that Chinese scholars have any special insight into Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi).

its not the issue of ethnicity. What you have created is a valuable primer on ZZ, an easy and pleasant reading for the average western reader. Kudos on that.

 

However since you spent so much effort on ZZ perhaps you may wish to look deeper than your reader would. E.g https://thecicadaandthebird.com/chuang-chou-and-the-butterfly you conclude that the moral of the parable is "Things come, things go, and I am always present."

 

But that's literally the exact opposite of what ZZ is saying even in your translation. All in all yours is a nice book which raises valuable issues with ZZ for a sounding board. But i would invite you to look deeper to get to the real ZZ.

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12 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

E.g https://thecicadaandthebird.com/chuang-chou-and-the-butterfly you conclude that the moral of the parable is "Things come, things go, and I am always present."

 

But that's literally the exact opposite of what ZZ is saying even in your translation.

 

Thank you, Taoist Texts, for reading what I've written and taking the time and effort to share your response. I've joined this forum to have conversation, and you are providing that. This is the very reason I wrote the book. (Apart from wanting to get things clear in my own mind.)

 

I'm curious, in what way is the view "things come, things go, and I am always present" the opposite of what ZZ says?

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9 minutes ago, Christopher Tricker said:

"things come, things go, and I am always present" the opposite of what ZZ says?

from your transl:

"A vivid, vibrant butterfly who didn’t know about Chou." If the butterfly did not know about Chou then the  "I" is not always present otherwise the butterfly would know about the I.

"Chou and the butterfly—there’s definitely a difference." That means ZZ explicitly states there are two different 'I"s, not one I always present.

 

Also another reason your conclusion is questionable is that ZZ does not say it explicitly. It is your inference. It might be right, but it is yours not ZZ's.

 

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44 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

from your transl:

"A vivid, vibrant butterfly who didn’t know about Chou." If the butterfly did not know about Chou then the  "I" is not always present otherwise the butterfly would know about the I.

"Chou and the butterfly—there’s definitely a difference." That means ZZ explicitly states there are two different 'I"s, not one I always present.

 

Also another reason your conclusion is questionable is that ZZ does not say it explicitly. It is your inference. It might be right, but it is yours not ZZ's.

 

 

Yes, it is my inference. As your interpretation is your inference. This is all that we have to go on, and is as it should, and must, be.

 

You make very interesting points that get to the heart of what ZZ's philosophy, to my mind, is about.

 

There are two "I"s. 

There is the "I" who says (or experiences without words, but I use words because that is all that we have to communicate with): "I am a butterfly", or "I am Chuang Tzu".

But there is another "I". The "I" of awareness. The "I" that is the here-and-now field of consciousness in which things are happening.

The first "I" identifies with the butterfly. And later, with Chuang Tzu. Just as your "I" probably now identifies with the person sitting here reading this.

But the second "I" (awareness), is always present. It is not identified with this or that thing (a butterfly; Chuang Tzu; the 21st century person read this). This second "I" (awareness) observes (not in words, but I have to put it in words): "Ah, here is this experience of being a butterfly flitting about." And now: "Ah, here is this experience of being Chuang Tzu." And now: "Ah, here is this experience of sitting here reading this."

 

You can observe this for yourself.

At one point you were a child. Now you are an adult. Yesterday you were sad. Now, happy (or perhaps irritated with this guy who is banging on about ZZ). And so on. This is the first "I", the "I" that identifies with this and that field of experience. AND ... notice how across all of these different experiences there was ... what? An observer, yes? An awareness, a field of consciousness that was experiencing these different things. That's the second "I" (awareness). It is ever present. Things come, things go, but this awareness, this field of consciousness, is ever present.

 

If this makes some sense, the next question is whether or not it is what ZZ means.

 

Well, I've just given an interpretation of ZZ's butterfly story. With genuine curiosity, do you have an alternative interpretation?

 

Also, we can look to Chapter 1.1 and 1.2:

https://thecicadaandthebird.com/awaking-to-awareness

https://thecicadaandthebird.com/we-happy-cicadas

 

Again, I only offer my interpretation of those stories. You may interpret those stories differently. Great! Let's share our interpretations and get benefit from the ones that best help us to be present with the world we find ourselves in and to go along with change in a harmonious way.

Edited by Christopher Tricker
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7 minutes ago, Christopher Tricker said:

do you have an alternative interpretation?

But of course. Luckily ZZ very explicitly says what it is in his concluding line:  "this is what the transformation of living things upon death is'. 

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/adjustment-of-controversies/ens#n2732

"此之谓物化。" 物化    物化    wù huà    (literary) to die

You see back in those time a hot philosophical topic was what happens to the "I" upon death. The opinions varied and ZZ, as evinced by this story decided that what happens is  a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metempsychosis

The story is about how he remembered in his dream that he was a butterfly in the previous life. His butterfly personality is NOT his Chou personality, the former was changed  化  into the latter , ONLY the recollection of the former remained with the latter.

 

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7 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

But of course. Luckily ZZ very explicitly says what it is in his concluding line:  "this is what the transformation of living things upon death is'. 

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/adjustment-of-controversies/ens#n2732

"此之谓物化。" 物化    物化    wù huà    (literary) to die

You see back in those time a hot philosophical topic was what happens to the "I" upon death. The opinions varied and ZZ, as evinced by this story decided that what happens is  a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metempsychosis

The story is about how he remembered in his dream that he was a butterfly in the previous life. His butterfly personality is NOT his Chou personality, the former was changed  化  into the latter , ONLY the recollection of the former remained with the latter.

 

 

What happens to the "I" up on death is hot philosophical topic today as well, yes? And in all times and places. :-)

 

I disagree with your translation of 此之谓物化: "this is what the transformation of living things upon death is."

Those characters simply say: "This is called things change". Or, as I phrase it: "Let's call this, things change".

True, "change" () also means "to die", so that connotation is in play.

 

You are right, of course. ZZ could be narrating a memory of a past life.

 

But consider this: how would ZZ know that his memory of the butterfly is a memory of a past life?

For that matter, you would be correct to say, how would he know that his memory of the butterfly is the memory of a dream?

(Well, he does say it's a memory of a dream, but let's let that pass.)

I suggest that ZZ would say that he doesn't know.

But what he does know is this: At one point in space and time awareness was aware of the butterfly, and at another point in space and time it was aware of Chuang Tzu. The butterfly is no longer present (is dead). Chuang Tzu is present, for now. But throughout it all, awareness is present.

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27 minutes ago, Christopher Tricker said:

But consider this: how would ZZ know that his memory of the butterfly is a memory of a past life?

its a good question because nobody  gets  that part right. 周与胡蝶,则必有分矣 is always transl. as  "between Zhou and a butterfly there must be a difference." which is the opposite of what ZZ says.  有分  is 有缘分。"between Chou and butterfly must be a karmic connection (rebirth)'

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9 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

its a good question because nobody  gets  that part right. 周与胡蝶,则必有分矣 is always transl. as  "between Zhou and a butterfly there must be a difference." which is the opposite of what ZZ says.  有分  is 有缘分。"between Chou and butterfly must be a karmic connection (rebirth)'

 

I must say, that is a very creative reading. I never even saw that as a possibility. 

Let's acknowledge, though, that you have amended the text to make it say what you want it to say.

Nothing wrong with that, as long as we acknowledge it.

 

May I ask, what is it about metempsychosis that appeals to you?

To my mind ...

(1) there is no good reason to believe that metempsychosis happens (the evidence is merely the presence of a memory of some thing);

(2) there are good reasons to believe that metempsychosis doesn't happen (memories are most simply explained as being neuronal events in brains; metempsychosis requires as us invent some mystical mechanism by which mental states are passed from dead butterflies to living humans)

(3) even if metempsychosis does happen, it doesn't solve the problem of death: knowing that you are the karmic descendent of a butterfly is no more consoling than knowing that you are the causal descendent of your ancestors and culture.

 

I ask with genuine curiosity: what is it about metempsychosis that appeals to you?

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5 hours ago, Christopher Tricker said:

Let's acknowledge, though, that you have amended the text to make it say what you want it to say.

lets agree ;)  to disagree on that. https://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/dictView.jsp?ID=154204&la=0&powerMode=0 this chinese dictionary  says that  有分  IS 有缘分  so i amended nothing

5 hours ago, Christopher Tricker said:

I ask with genuine curiosity: what is it about metempsychosis that appeals to you?

absolutely nothing except it being a recurring theme in ZZ

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/great-and-most-honoured-master#n2756

'Great indeed is the Creator! What will He now make you to become? Where will He take you to? Will He make you the liver of a rat, or the arm of an insect? 

https://thecicadaandthebird.com/four-friends-facing-death-together

again you chose to read this as "Mr Sigh does not identify with his present body, but with the that which is forever here-and-now present (awareness; life energy)."

but its a conjecture which is contrary to ZZ.  Mr Sigh does not ID himself with anything, thats the whole point of the story.

Imagine if a great blacksmith was casting metal and the metal leapt about, saying, I demand to be Mo Yeh!²
The great blacksmith would surely consider it to be inauspicious metal.

 

Instead of to be Moyeh you seem to insist to be a forever present awareness is it any less inauspicious than Moyeh? I think not;)

 

But its all good. Nice interpretation.

5 hours ago, Christopher Tricker said:

(3) even if metempsychosis does happen, it doesn't solve the problem of death: knowing that you are the karmic descendent of a butterfly is no more consoling than knowing that you are the causal descendent of your ancestors and culture.

yes it does not solve it per se. but it serves as a basis for a solution. Rebirthing means there is a vestige of an immortal soul being reborn, which in turn means it can be developed into a full-fledged one, retaining its memories and personality, through various techniques.

 

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On 2022-12-29 at 3:21 PM, Taoist Texts said:

lets agree ;)  to disagree on that. https://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/dictView.jsp?ID=154204&la=0&powerMode=0 this chinese dictionary  says that  有分  IS 有缘分  so i amended nothing

absolutely nothing except it being a recurring theme in ZZ

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/great-and-most-honoured-master#n2756

'Great indeed is the Creator! What will He now make you to become? Where will He take you to? Will He make you the liver of a rat, or the arm of an insect? 

https://thecicadaandthebird.com/four-friends-facing-death-together

again you chose to read this as "Mr Sigh does not identify with his present body, but with the that which is forever here-and-now present (awareness; life energy)."

but its a conjecture which is contrary to ZZ.  Mr Sigh does not ID himself with anything, thats the whole point of the story.

Imagine if a great blacksmith was casting metal and the metal leapt about, saying, I demand to be Mo Yeh!²
The great blacksmith would surely consider it to be inauspicious metal.

 

Instead of to be Moyeh you seem to insist to be a forever present awareness is it any less inauspicious than Moyeh? I think not;)

 

I agree with you that Mr Sigh does not identify himself with anything, and that that's the whole point of the story.

 

We seem to be talking past each other about what I mean by awareness.

I don't quite say to identify with "a forever present awareness"--that way of saying it makes awareness sound like a thing (a type of soul or something).

I do say to identify with awareness (the here-and-now field of consciousness), which is ever present.

If this sounds like hair-splitting, I don't mean it be. 

To identify with the here-and-now field of consciousness is not to identify with anything.

Your here-and-now field of consciousness isn't a discrete thing that can be pointed to, or which persists through time.

It isn't a thing, it's the that in which this and that thing is now present.


It's the "constant mind", which is like the mirror-surface of a still pond (Chapter 5).

It's the "large constant", which is like the common element between different fields or ponds (Chapter 21):

 

Animals that eat grass don’t hate having to change pastures.

Insects that live in water don’t hate having to change ponds.

They go along with the small differences and don’t lose the large

constant,

so delight and anger, grief and joy, don’t enter some vacancy in their

breast.

 

All under heaven is the that in which the myriad things are one.

Attain this that in which they’re one, and identify with it,

and your four limbs and hundred joints will be but dust and dirt,

and death and birth, end and beginning, will be but day and night,

and none of them able to disturb you, much less the distinctions drawn by gain and loss, misfortune and good fortune!

 

Awaking to this ever-present field of consciousness is a "large awakening", awaking to the realisation that being awake is a "large dream" (Chapter 2).

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1 hour ago, Christopher Tricker said:

Your here-and-now field of consciousness isn't a discrete thing that can be pointed to, or which persists through time.

I understand. thank you very much Christopher. In your paradigm is that field individual for every living man or a being, or it is unified for all beings? Apparently there is some history to this concept

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Field_theories_of_consciousness/Field_theories_of_global_consciousness

Have you  done the enjoyment of fishes? Now that one is a stumper!

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/floods-of-autumn/ens#n2828

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4 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

Have you  done the enjoyment of fishes? Now that one is a stumper

Not to seasoned anglers, it's not.

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33 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

it must be because the angler is the fish

A common point of view in discussions on the river.

 

 

Edited by Sketch
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5 hours ago, Sketch said:

to seasoned anglers

In America you season the fish. But in ancient China the fish seasons you.

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14 minutes ago, Taoist Texts said:

In America you season the fish. But in ancient China the fish seasons you.

Your fascination with dichotomies for their own sake has been noted.

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Posted (edited)
On 2022/12/29 at 12:21 PM, Taoist Texts said:

https://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/dictView.jsp?ID=154204&la=0&powerMode=0 this chinese dictionary  says that  有分  IS 有缘分  so i amended nothing

"有分" was used as "有緣分" in Song dynasty ,which is described in that dictionary.

 

In this chapter, The Adjustment of Controversies, "物" is opposing to "我". In the last part of this chapter, ZZ in that story can not distinguish which one is ZZ, and which one is others. Maybe, "物化" means "become others" here. There are 5 of "分" in this chapter, and I like to translate these "分" as "apart".

Edited by muscidae
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24 minutes ago, muscidae said:

I like to translate these "分" as "apart"

yes everyone does;). you raise valid issues which will hopefully result in understanding of the parable's meaning. what do you think it means overall?

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Posted (edited)
On 2023/1/2 at 12:08 AM, Taoist Texts said:

yes everyone does;). you raise valid issues which will hopefully result in understanding of the parable's meaning. what do you think it means overall?

https://ctext.org/zhuangzi/adjustment-of-controversies/ens#n41938

 

 

There was no others -> There were others but we shared the same thought -> We couldn't share the same thought -> Things were either correct or incorrect -> The Dao was not complete, and that's why love appears.

 

In the very begining, there is no others. At that point, It was ultimate and can't be enlarged by anything or any method. (有以为未始有物者,至矣尽矣,不可以加矣。)
In the end, ZZ dreamed that he became a butterfly. I believe that is one step to go back the ultimate state.

Edited by muscidae
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