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Chuang Tzu’s Curriculum Vitae

July 27, 2014

“Silent and formless, changing and impermanent, now dead, now living, equal with Heaven and Earth, moving with the spiritual and intelligent; disappearing where? Suddenly whither?; all things are what they are, no one more attractive than others: these are some of the aspects of the Tao of the ancients. Chuangtse heard of them and was delighted. In strange and vague expressions, wild and extravagant language, indefinite terms, he indulged himself in his own ideas without partiality or peculiar appearance. He regarded the world as submerged and ignorant, so that it could not be spoken too seriously. So he put his ideas in indefinite cup-like words, ascribing them to others for authority and illustrating with stories for variety. He came and went alone with the spirit of Heaven and Earth, but had no sense of pride in his superiority to all things. He did not condemn either right or wrong, so he was able to get along with ordinary people. His writings, though they have a grand style, are not opposed to things and so are harmless. His phrases, though full of irregularities, are yet attractive and full of humor. The richness of his ideas cannot be exhausted. Above he roams with the Creator. Below he makes friends with those who, without beginning or end, are beyond life and death. In regard to the fundamental he was comprehensive and great, profound and free. In regard to the essential he may be called the harmonious adapter to higher things. Nevertheless, in his response to change and his interpretation of things, his reasons were inexhaustible and not derived from his predecessors. Indefinite and obscure, he is not one to be exhausted!”

— attributed to Chuangtse (or Chuang Tzu, if you like) himself, from The Tao Is Silent by Raymond Smullyan, who cites as his source Fung Yu-lan’s A History of Chinese Philosophy, translated by Derk Bodde.

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