Commentary on Chuang-tzu

[When we look at things...]

"When we look at things", said Kung-ni, "as they differ, we see them to be different, (as for instance) the liver and the gall, or Khu and Yueh; when we look at them, as they agree, we see them all to be a unity. So it is with this (Wang Thai). He takes no knowledge of the things for which his ears and eyes are the appropriate organs, but his mind delights itself in the harmony of (all excellent) qualities. He looks at the unity which belongs to things, and does not perceive where they have suffered loss. (Chuang-tzu, Book V, 1, James Legge.)


Wang Thai perceives things as they are without taking as a guide the formal, speculative thinking. He isn't interested in formal classifications which limit things and sort them out on quality criteria, but in perfection of the thing itself. A flower, for example, no matter what sort of, is perfect in its beauty, because he doesn't discern what it lacks ("loss") but what it possesses ("all excellent qualities").
Wang Thai is the Chuang-tzu's illustration of the perfect man which differs in attitude as compared to the Confucian type.  

Selection and commentary by Jhian


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