Chuang-tzu > Quotes


 

On the Perfect Man

The Perfect man is spirit-like. Great lakes might be boiling about him, and he would not feel their heat; the Ho and the Han might be frozen tip, and he would not feel the cold; the hurrying thunderbolts might split the mountains, and the wind shake the ocean, without being able to make him afraid. Being such, he mounts on the clouds of the air, rides on the sun and moon, and rambles at ease beyond the four seas. Neither death nor life makes any change in him, and how much less should the considerations of advantage and injury do so. (Chuang-tzu, Book II, chaper 8, version James Legge.)

Commentary:
The discussion about the Perfect man - that is, the goal of the Taoist adepts - follows a known pattern of the sage who is not affected by things that would hurt common people. But this idea shouldn't be taken word by word. It is not about some supernatural power granted to the Perfect Man. Our text stresses that all these things, including life and death, make no change in him. This is why he is above he mundane experience of common people and far beyond the opposites, such as advantage or loss.

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Selection and commentary by Jhian Yang

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