Zhuangzi translation and commentary

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Table of contents

11:05

子列子問關尹曰:「至人潛行不窒,蹈火不熱,行乎萬之上而不慄。請問何以至於此?」

關尹曰:「是純之守也,非知巧果敢之列。居!吾語女。凡有貌象聲色者,皆也,何以相遠?夫奚以至乎先?是色而已。則之造乎不形,而止乎無所化,夫得是而窮之者,焉得而止焉!彼將處乎不淫之度,而乎無端之紀,乎萬之所終始,壹其,養其,合其,以之所造。夫若是者,其守全,其神無郤,奚自入焉!

夫醉者之墜車,雖疾不死。骨節與人同,而犯害與人異,其神全也,乘亦不知也,墜亦不知也,死生驚懼不入乎其胷中,是故遻而不慴。彼得全於酒而猶若是,而況得全於乎!聖人,故莫之能傷也。」[a]


Master Liezi asked the keeper of the pass, "Perfect people wade without sinking and tread fire without getting hot, walking on top of the ten thousand things without fear. How do they get to this point?

The pass-keeper said, "This is just keeping it simple. It's not an example of clever tricks our courageous feats. Hold it. I'll tell you. What has shape, form, sound, and color are all 'things.' How much is there to separate one thing from another? How can that be enough to arrive at what came before? They're just colors, is all. Things are engendered in no body and end in what doesn't change. Those who get this and exhaust ithow can things stop them? Those people dwell in the measure of no excess, hide in the age without a clue, and sojourn where all things begin and end. They enjoy their instincts, nourish their energies, join their powers, and get through to where things are engendered. People like this—their nature keeps whole and their spirit has no cracks, so where could things get in?

When someone falls drunk from a carriage, they won't get killed no matter how fast it's going. His bones and muscles are the same as other people but his ability to avoid injury is different, because their spirit is whole. They didn't know they were riding and didn't know know they were falling. Fear about life and death doesn't enter their breast, so they're not afraid of hitting things. If wholeness can be found this way in wine, how much more so can it be found in nature? Wise people treasure nature, so nothing can harm them." [1]

[1] The drunk person is oblivious to the differences between things like riding and falling; the wise person realizes that they are by nature the same.

[a] CTP 19.02, HYZY 19/7-15.