Chuang Tsu: Full Harmony

[Confucius said:] ” …Ai Tai To said nothing and was trusted.  He achieved nothing and was loved. So someone offered him the government, and was only afraid that he would refuse. He must have achieved full harmony without any outward manifestation of virtue.”

Duke Ai asked, “What do you mean by achieving full harmony?”

Confucius said, “Life and death, profit and loss, failure and success, poverty and wealth, value and worthlessness, praise and blame, hunger and thirst, cold and heat—these are natural changes in the order of things.  They alternate with one another like day and night.  No one knows where one ends and the other begins.  Therefore, they should not disturb our peace or enter into our souls.  Live so that you are at ease, in harmony with the world, and full of joy. Day and night, share the springtime with all things, thus creating the seasons in your own heart. This is called achieving full harmony.”

“And what is this lack of outward manifestation of virtue?”

Confucius said, “Balance is the perfect state of still water. Let that be our model. It remains quiet within and is not disturbed on the surface. Virtue is the attainment of perfect harmony.  Because virtue has no outward form, nothing can escape from it.”

Later, Duke Ai told this to Ming Tsu, saying, “When I first faced south and took the reins of government, guiding the people and caring for their lives, I thought that I was doing my utmost as a ruler. Now that I have heard the words of a perfect man, I am afraid that there is no substance to what I am doing. I have foolishly squandered my energy and am ruining my country. Confucius and I are no longer related as subject and ruler but as spiritual companions.”

from Chuang Tsu Inner Chapters, chapter 5 Signs of Full Virtue
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

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