Taoism > Masters > Chuang-tzu


About 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, chapter 8, James Legge.)


The discussion about the perfect man - the goal of the Taoist adepts - follows a known pattern of the sage who is not affected by things that would hurt the common people.

But this idea shouldn't be taken word for 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 gain and loss.

Selection and commentary by Jhian


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