Chuang Tzu (369 BC-286 BC)

Chuang Tzu

On Peace & Repose

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

The repose of the Sage is not what the world calls repose.
His repose is the result of his mental attitude.
All creation could not disturb his equilibrium:
hence his repose.

When water is still, it is like a mirror,
reflecting the beard and the eyebrows.
It gives the accuracy of the water-level,
and the philosopher makes it his model.
And if water derives lucidity from stillness,
how much more the faculties of the mind?
The mind of the Sage being in repose
becomes the mirror of the universe,
the speculum of all creation.

Repose, tranquillity, stillness, inaction—
these were the source of all things...
Keep to this when coming forward to pacify
a troubled world, and your merit shall be great
and your name illustrious, and the empire united into one.
In your repose you will be wise; in your movements, powerful.
By inaction you will gain honor; and by confining yourself
to the pure and simple, you will hinder the whole world
from struggling with you for show.

Chuang Tzu, Chapter XIII: The Tao of God, pp. 131-132


The true Sage, when in obscurity, causes those around him to forget their poverty.
When in power, he causes princes to forget ranks and compensations, and to become
as though of low estate. He rejoices exceedingly in all creation. He exults to see
Tao diffused among his fellow-men, while suffering no loss himself.

Thus, although silent, he can instill peace; and by his mere presence cause men to be
to each other as father and son. From his very return to passivity comes this active
influence for good. So widely does he differ in heart from ordinary men.

The true Sage is free from all embarrassments. All things are to him as One.
Yet he knows not that this is so. It is simply nature. In the midst of action
he remains the same. He makes God his guide, and men make him theirs.

Chuang Tzu, Chapter XXV: Tsê Yang, pp. 248-249

Chuang Tzu (369 BC-286 BC)
Chuang Tzu: Taoist Philosopher and Chinese Mystic,
Translated by Herbert A. Giles (2nd Edition, 1926)
George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1961.

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (3-8-2003)