Zhuangzi: Basic Writings

By Burton Watson; Zhuangzi | Go to book overview
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External things cannot be counted on. Hence Longfeng was executed, Bi Gan was sentenced to death, Prince Ji feigned madness, E Lai was killed, and Jie and Zhou were overthrown.1 There is no ruler who does not want his ministers to be loyal. But loyal ministers are not always trusted. Hence Wu Yun was thrown into the Yangzi and Chang Hong died in Shu, where the people stored away his blood, and after three years it was transformed into green jade.2 There is no parent who does not want his son to be filial. But filial sons are not always loved. Hence Xiaoji grieved and Zeng Shen sorrowed.3

1 Guan Longfeng, minister to the tyrant Jie, and Prince Bi Gan, minister to the
tyrant Zhou, have already appeared on p. 51. Prince Ji was a relative of Zhou who
had to feign madness in order to escape execution. E Lai assisted Zhou and was
put to death when Zhou was overthrown.

2 Wu Yun or Wu Zixu, the loyal minister of Wu, has already appeared on p. 114. He
was forced by the king to commit suicide and his body was thrown into the Yangzi.
Chang Hong is mentioned in the Zuozbtum as a minister of the Zhou court who was
killed in 492 B.C. But, if this is me same man, the story of his exile and suicide in Shu
and the miraculous transformation of his blood must come from later legend.

3 Xiaoji was the eminently filial son of King Wuding of the Shang; he was said to
have been persecuted by an evil stepmother. Zeng Shen, a disciple of Confucius
and likewise a paragon of filial piety, was despised by his father.


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