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《問神卷第五 - Asking About Shen》

English translation: Jeffrey S. Bullock [?] Library Resources
1 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked about shen.
Yangzi said: It is a matter of using the xin.
May I ask about it?
Yangzi said: Immerse yourself in Heaven, and you will understand Heaven. Immerse yourself in Earth, and you will understand Earth. Heaven and Earth are the unfathomable daimonic, but once the xin is immersed in them, then one may fathom them. How much more so with men? How much more so with the principles of worldly affairs?
May I dare ask about immersing the xin in sagehood?
Yangzi said: In the past, Confucius immersed himself in King Wen, and he reached him. Yan Yuan also immersed himself in Confucius, and failed to reach him only by a little bit. Shen simply lies in immersion and that's all.

2 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Heaven's daimon, Heaven's clarity—
Illuminate and understand the four corners of the world. Heaven's essence, Heaven's purity—
The myriad things arise in all their types.

3 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Is man's xin not daimon-like? If you hold onto it, then it abides. If you let go of it, it is gone. One who is able constantly to hold onto it and allow it to abide, he alone is a sage!

4 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
The sage preserves shen and seeks out the ultimate, completes the world's great peace, brings about great prosperity for the world, and bridges the division between Tian and mankind, making them without separation.

5 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
When the dragon curls up in the mud, the lizard runs wild. The lizard! The lizard!
How can he understand the dragon's intention?
The other said: The dragon inevitably wants to fly to Heaven, does he not?
Yangzi said: When it's time to fly, then he flies. When it's time to hide, then he hides. Flying and hiding, he does not eat carelessly, and his form cannot be grasped and restrained.
The other said: If the sage cannot be restrained, then how was King Wen imprisoned at Youli?
Yangzi said: The dragon is a dragon because he is not restrained. The sage is a sage because he does not grasp onto only one alternative.

6 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked: Can the Classics be edited or added to?
Yangzi said: The Yijing began with eight trigrams, and King Wen created the sixty-four hexagrams. What was added can be known. As for the Book of Songs, Book of Documents, Book of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals, some were based on earlier versions, some were original works, but all were completed by Confucius. What was added can be known. Thus, the Dao is not Heaven-so; it is built of responses to the times. Its emendations and additions can be known.

7 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: When the Yijing is missing a single hexagram, even if you are stupid, you know it is missing something. But the Book of Documents does not provide over half the text, and even those who study it do not know what is missing. It's a pity that the preface to the Book of Documents is not as good as that of the Yijing.
Yangzi said: The Yijing is for calculations. That is the reason the hexagrams can be counted. If the Yijing's preface were like the preface to the Book of Documents, even Confucius would not know what to do with it.

8 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Those in the past who transmitted the Book of Documents arranged it in one hundred chapters. And then suddenly the "Admonition on Wine" had parts missing. Now they are gone!

9 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
The documents of Shun and the Xia are straightforward, the Documents of Shang is broad-minded, and the Documents of Zhou very serious. But as for those who came after the Zhou, their documents were vulgar.

10 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked: Can the sage's Classics be made easy to understand?
Yangzi said: It is not possible. If Heaven could be measured instantly then it would be only a shallow cover over the world of things. If Earth could be fathomed instantly, then it would be a thin support for the world of things. But they are great! The ten thousand things are bounded by Heaven and Earth, and the persuasions of the many philosophers are surrounded by the Five Classics.

11 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked: As for the sage's management of affairs, was he not able to make things clear like the sun and the moon? Why the unceasing disputation of later generations?
Yangzi said: Blind music master Kuang was able to penetrate the mysteries of music, but even Kuang could not make different ears be alike. Yi Ya was able to blend flavors, but Yi Ya was not able to make different mouths be alike.

12 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
When the junzi speaks, the dark must examined with the bright; the far must be examined with the near; the great must be examined with the small; and the secret must be examined with the known. To speak without verification is called "reckless." Is the junzi reckless? He is not reckless.

13 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Language is not able to fully express what is in one's xin, and writings are not able to fully express what one wants to say. How troublesome! Only the sage is able to grasp the meaning of language and the essence of writing. It is like when the shining sun illuminates, or when the rivers cleanse—they are so great that nothing can resist them. For meeting face-to-face, exchanging letters, expressing the xin's desires, or breaking through the barriers between people—there is nothing like language. For summarizing the affairs of all under Heaven, for recording the old and explaining what is far away, for making known the darkness of antiquity and transmitting unclear matters from a thousand miles away, there is nothing like writing. Thus, language is the xin's voice. Writing is the xin's pictures. When voice and pictures take form, they are seen both by the junzi and the small man. The voice and writing, these are what move the feelings of the junzi and the small man.

14 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
The sage's words rush like a river. If you flow with them, then everything goes smoothly. If you go against them, you meet with disaster. It's just like a river!

15 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: Was Confucius a sage? Why could he not occupy an official position in his time? Even Fan Ju and Cai Ze were not like that!
Yangzi said: Were Fan and Cai sages? If Fan and Cai were sages, then what does it mean to be a sage?

16 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: As for Liu An, Prince of Huainan, and the Grand Historian Sima Qian, did they not posses much knowledge? How complex they are!
Yangzi said: Complex! Complex! Most people's shortcoming is using much knowledge to be "complex." Only the sage is not complex.

17 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Books that do not accord with the Confucian Classics are not books. Sayings that do not accord with the Confucian Classics are not sayings. Such books and teachings proliferate like tumors.

18 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: Confucius once said, "I transmit, but do not create." So why have you written the Tai xuan jing?
Yangzi said: Its content I have transmitted. Only the book itself have I written.

19 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Born but not yet sprouted, that was my young son Tong Wu! Only nine years old, and yet he discussed the text of the Tai xuan jing with me.

20 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: Why have you written the Tai xuan jing?
Yangzi said: For the purpose of explaining ren and yi.
The other said: What other philosopher doesn't explain ren and yi?
Yangzi said: Just don't be complex—and that's all.

21 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked about the difficult and easy aspects of the Classics.
Yangzi said: Survival and loss.
The other did not understand.
Yangzi said: If the text completely survives, then it is easy. If parts of it are lost, then it is difficult. Was Ji Zha of Yanling's knowledge of music not almost perfect? But if music had been abandoned, even Zha could not have attained such an understanding of it. If it is like the ritual and music of the Zhou, for which almost everything is preserved, then everything can be performed without difficulty. If it is like the ritual and music of the Qin, for which almost nothing is preserved, then everything can only be performed with difficulty.

22 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Upper garments without lower garments, I have never known this to be practicable. Lower garments without upper garments, I have never known this to be practicable. Upper garments and lower garments, do they not go together?

23 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked about wen (culture/civility).
Yangzi said: It is a matter of compliance.
The other asked about wu (warfare/martiality).
Yangzi said: It is a matter of conquest.
The other did not understand.
Yangzi said: Affairs being put into their proper order is called "compliance." Overcoming one's own selfish desires is called "conquest."

24 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Those who handle affairs capably and display honor through their actions—do they not have de?
The other said: Confucius said, "Those who recognize de are few." What about honor?
Yangzi said: Whether or not others recognize me, I act, and my honor is great. If it were necessary that I be recognized before I act, then my honor would be insignificant.

25 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone said: Confucius said, "The junzi worries about leaving the world without having established a reputation." So why not use power to obtain it? Those with high-ranking office can seek a reputation.
Yangzi said: The junzi seeks a reputation for having de. The rulers of Liang, Qi, Zhao, and Chu did not lack for wealth and rank, but were they reputable? Zheng Zizhen of Gukou did not bend his will and farmed at the foot of the mountains, yet his reputation shook the capital. But did he have high-ranking office? Did he have high-ranking office?

26 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked about people.
Yangzi said: They are difficult to understand.
The other said: Why are they difficult to understand?
Yangzi said: Telling the difference between Mt. Tai and an ant-hill, or the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers from drainage ditches is not difficult. But telling the difference between a great sage and a glib talker is difficult. Indeed, one who can discriminate between things that are similar can understand people without difficulty.

27 問神卷第... :
Asking About Shen:
Someone asked: Have you not taken from Zou Yan and Zhuang Zhou?
Yangzi said: If it is de, then I have taken it. If it is mistaken, then I have not.
What do you mean by de and "mistaken."
Yangzi said: In speaking of Heaven, Earth, and Man, that which is in line with the Confucian Classics is de. Otherwise, it is mistaken. The junzi does not let speech that is mistaken come out of his mouth.

URN: ctp:yangzi-fayan/juan-wu