Zhuangzi: Basic Writings

By Burton Watson; Zhuangzi | Go to book overview
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THE SECRET OF CARING FOR LIFE1
(SECTION 3)

Your life has a limit but knowledge has none. If you use what is limited to pursue what has no limit, you will be in danger. If you understand this and still strive for knowledge, you will be in danger for certain! If you do good, stay away from fame. If you do evil, stay away from punishments. Follow the middle; go by what is constant, and you can stay in one piece, keep yourself alive, look after your parents, and live out your years.

Cook Ding was cutting up an ox for Lord Wenhui.2 At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee—zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Jingshou music.3

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wenhui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

1 The chapter is very brief and would appear to be mutilated.

2 Identified as King Hui of Wei, who has already appeared on p. 00 above.

3 The Mulberry Grove is identified as a rain dance from the time of King Tang of
the Shang dynasty, and the Jingshou music as part of a longer composition from
the time of Yao.

-45-

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