Means and Ends: The Way of CHUANG TZU

As is a practice, I flipped through a book snapped from the shelf at random.

There was a metro ticket from a trip taken.

It fell before the start of this reading.

It fell at the end of the other reading included.

As an investigator of method, Tao, mysticism, I found it of interest. Surprise, right? Giggle.

A couple of extra quotes from different readings included below.

MEANS AND ENDS

The gate keeper in the capital city of Sung became such an expert mourner after his father’s death, and so emaciated himself with fasts and austerities, that he was promoted to high rank in order that he might serve as a model of ritual observance.

As a result of this, his imitators so deprived themselves that half of them died. The others were not promoted.

The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.

The purpose of the rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.

The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.

Where can I find a man who forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.

[xxvi. 11.]


THE USELESS

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu:

“All your teaching is centered on what has no use.”

Chuang replied:

“If you have no appreciation for what has no use

You cannot begin to talk about what can be used.

The earth, for example, is broad and vast

But of all this expanse a man uses only a few inches

Upon which he happens to be standing.

Now suppose you suddenly take away

All that he is not actually using

So that, all around his feet a gulf

Yawns, and he stands in the Void,

With nowhere solid except right under

each foot:

How long will be he able to use what he is using?”

Hui Tzu said:

“It would cease to serve any purpose.”

Chuang Tzu concluded:

“This shows

The absolute necessity

Of what has ‘no use.'”

[xxvi. 7.]


Keng’s Disciple

The disciple got some supplies,

Traveled seven days and seven nights

Alone,

And came to Lao Tzu.

Lao asked: “Do you come from Keng?”

“Yes,” replied the student.

“Who are all those people you have

brought with you?”

The disciple whirled around to look.

Nobody there. Panic!

Lao said: “Don’t you understand?”

The disciple hung his head. Confusion!

Then a sigh. “Alas, I have forgotten my

answer.”

(More confusion!) “I have also forgotten

my question.”

Lao said: “What are you trying to say?”

The disciple: “When I don’t know,

people treat me like a fool.

When I do know, the knowledge gets me in trouble.

When I fail to do good, I hurt others.

When I do good, I hurt myself.

If I avoid my duty, I am remise,

But if I do it, I am ruined.

How can I get out of these contradictions?

That is what I came to ask you.”

Lao Tzu said: You are trying to sound

The middle of the ocean

With a six foot pole…

You have got lost, and are trying

To find your way back

To your own true self.

You find nothing

But illegible signposts

Pointing in all directions…

If your obstructions

Are on the outside,

Do not attempt

To grasp them one by one

And thrust them away.

Impossible! Learn

To ignore them.

If they are within yourself,

You cannot destroy them piecemeal,

But you can refuse

To let them take effect.

If they are both inside and outside,

Do not try

To hold on to Tao–

Just hope that Tao

Will keep hold of you.”

The disciple asked:

“Is this perfection?”

Lao replied: “Not at all. If you persist in trying

To attain what is never attained

(It is Tao’s gift!)

If you persist in reasonsing

About what cannot be understood,

You will be destroyed

By the very thing you seek.

To know when to stop

To know when you can get no further

By your own action,

this is the right beginning!”

[xxiii. 3-7]

Merton, Thomas. The Way of Chuang Tzu. Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston & London. 1992.

Copyright 1965 by the Abbey of Gethsemani

Author: writtencasey

I am fascinated by the scientific endeavor and I read about or engage with those processes as much as possible. I am a compulsive reader and writer. With a background in anthropology and as an arm-chair/backyard scientist, I hope to improve my writing skills and learn about any areas of weakness or misunderstanding in my analytic skills. I am excited to share. Thank you for spending time here. Please reach out if you are so inclined. I'd be excited to hear from you.

5 thoughts on “Means and Ends: The Way of CHUANG TZU”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.