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






Zhuangzi was accompanying a funeral when he passed by Huizi’s grave. Turning to his attendants, he said, “When the Plaster Monkey got a speck of mud on his nose no thicker than a fly’s wing, he would ask Carpenter Stone to slice it off. Carpenter Stone would twirl his ax like the wind and chop away obediently, getting all the mud and leaving the nose unharmed, while the plasterer stood there without changing his expression. 

Lord Yuan of Song heard about the trick and summoned Carpenter Stone. ‘Do it for Us!’ 

Carpenter Stone replied, ‘I was able to do it, but the material I worked with died long ago.’ 

Since my own teacher died,” Zhuangzi continued, “I have been without material. I have no one to talk to.” [1]

[1] I read this story at my wife's funeral. It may simply be that there was no one else around as clever as Huizi, which would be a little odd since Huizi never seemed quite to "get it." Or it may reveal something important about Zhuangzi's own understanding of his philosophy, that he saw it as a complement to Huizi's project of saving the world through logic, and as not having application outside of that context.

[a] CTP 24.06, HYZY 24/48-51.