Zhuangzi translation and commentary

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10:03

孔子行年五十有一而不聞道,乃南之沛,見老聃。老聃曰:「子來乎?吾聞子北方之賢者也,子亦得道乎?」

孔子曰:「未得也。」

老子曰:「子惡乎求之哉?」

曰:「吾求之於度數,五年而未得也。」

老子曰:「子又惡乎求之哉?」

曰:「吾求之於陰陽,十有二年而未得。」

老子曰:「然。使道而可獻,則人莫不獻之於其君;使道而可進,則人莫不進之於其親;使道而可以告人,則人莫不告其兄弟;使道而可以與人,則人莫不與其子孫。

然而不可者,無佗也,中無主而不止,外無正而不行。由中出者,不受於外,聖人不出;由外入者,無主於中,聖人不隱。

名,公器也,不可多。仁,先王之蘧廬也,止可以一宿而不可以久處,覯而多責。古之至人,假道於仁,託宿於,以逍遙之虛,食於苟簡之田,立於不貸之圃。逍遙,無為也;苟簡,易養也;不貸,無出也。古者謂是采真之

以富為是者,不能讓祿;以顯為是者,不能讓名;親權者,不能與人柄。操之則慄,舍之則悲,而一無所鑒,以闚其所不休者,是之戮民也。

怨、恩、、與、諫、教、生、殺,八者,正之器也,唯循大變無所湮者,為能用之。故曰:正者,正也。其心以為不然者,門弗開矣。」[a]


Confucius had gone fifty-one years without hearing the way, so he headed south to Pei to see Lao DanLao Dan said, "Have you come? I hear you are the worthiest man of the north. Have you gotten the way yet?"

Confucius said, "Not yet."

Laozi said, "Where have you looked for it?"

He said, "I've looked for it in rules and regulations for fifty years and haven't found it." 

Laozi said, "Where else have you looked for it?"

He said, "I've looked for it in yin and yang for twelve years and haven't found it." 

Laozi said, "So it is. If the way could be offered, no one would not offer it to their superiors. If the way could be presented, no one would not present it to their parents. If they way could be told, no one would not tell it to their brothers. If the way could be given, no one would not give it to their children and grandchildren. 

The reason why not is simply this: If there is no one to host it on the inside, the way will not stay. If there is no one to correct it on the outside, the way will not go. In terms of expressing it, if there is one to receive it on the outside, wise people won't let it go. In terms of receiving it, if there is no one to host it on the inside, the wise will not stash it. 

Words are a public tool; don't overdo it. Kindness and morality are the tents of former kings; spend a night there but don't stay long or you'll incur blame. The perfect people of old detour their way into kindness and camped out in morality but tripped in the hippy-dippy waste, ate in the haphazard fields, and stayed in the rent-free garden. Round-about, they didn't do anything; haphazard, it's easy to thrive; rent-free, there are no expense. They used to call this the truth-picker's trip. 

Those who think wealth is right can't give up their salary. Those who think that fame is right can't give up their reputation. Those who value authority can't give anyone an advantage. When they've got these things, they worry; when they lose them, they mourn. They don't reflect once to see how they cannot rest; they are people punished by nature. 

Resentment, gratitude, taking, giving, criticism, instruction, life, death—these eight are the tools of correction. Only those who roll with the changes and don't get clogged can use them. The correctors must be correct. If their minds aren't that way, the doors of heaven will not open to them." [1]

[1] Assuming Zhuangzi wrote this, why does he put it in the mouths of Confucius and Lao Dan? In other contexts, Confucius cast as sympethetic, such as his conversation with ZIgong about the three friends in 6.06, and even wise, such as his conversation with Yan Hui in 4:01. Here he appears as a dupe. Are we supposed to read this as part of The Young Confucius serires? And if Laozi is mouthing Zhuangzi's own words, why not cast himself in that role? It wouldn't have worked historically, but that didn't stop him from talking to Duke Ai in 9:08.

[a] CTP 14.05, HYZY 14/44-56.