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Freedom Founts

Source Materials About Freedom


1. He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.


2. He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.

Legge's Comments

辨德, 'Discriminating between (different) Attributes.' The teaching of this chapter is that the possession of the Dào confers the various attributes which are here most distinguished. It has been objected to it that elsewhere the Dào is represented associated with dulness and not intelligence, and with weakness and not with strength. But these seem to be qualities viewed from without, and acting on what is beyond itself. Inwardly, its qualities are the very opposite, and its action has the effect of enlightening what is dark, and overcoming what is strong.

More interesting are the predicates in par. 2. Jiāo Hóng gives the comment on it of the Indian monk, Kumārajīva, 'one of the four suns of Buddhism,' and who went to China in A.D. 401: 'To be alive and yet not alive may well be called long; to die and yet not be dead may well be called longevity.' He also gives the views of Lù Nóng Shī (A.D. 1042–1102) that the freedom from change of Lièzǐ, from death of Zhuāngzǐ, and from extinction of the Buddhists, have all the same meaning as the concluding saying of Lǎozǐ here; that the human body is like the covering of the caterpillar or the skin of the snake; that we occupy it but for a passing sojourn. No doubt, Lǎozǐ believed in another life for the individual after the present. Many passages in Zhuāngzǐ indicate the same faith.