Zhuangzi translation and commentary

Thank you for coming to this site, a translation and commentary on the fourth century BC Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi! This is a work-in-progress, so your feedback is welcome. Feel free to read away below, or here are an introduction to this project, how to use this site, and how to leave comments.

Table of contents




When Zhong Ni was in Chu, the Chu king feasted him. Sunshu Ao held the wine and South Market Yiliao poured it, saying, "Man of old! Speak to us about it now!" 

He said, "I've heard about the unspoken speech but have never tried to speak it. I'll speak about it now. South Market Yiliao played catch and the difficulty between two families was solved. Sunshu Ao took a sweet nap with his fan and the men of Ying laid down their arms. I wish I had a beak a yard long!" [1]

[1] Needless to say, I chose this passage for the closing line. I take it 'playing catch' is emblematic of South Market Yiliao's refusal to be involved in the coup 'taking a nap' of the leisure of Sunshu Ao's government. Both illustrate the superitoity of inaction over action. Confucius takes it a step further, asserting the superiority of meaninglessness over meaning. Evidently meaning shares similar limitations to action: the best way to articulate they way is inarticulately.

[a] CTP 24.10 (beginning), HYZY 24/65-68.