The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Strolling on the bridge over the river Hao

This is a small except of a great classic of world literature, the ZhuangZi (Chuang Tsu). This particular translation was done by a famous scholar, YuTang Lin. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a translation of the complete chapter, and then you'll be able to find the whole text online.

Chuangtse and Hueitse had strolled on to the bridge over the Hao, when the former observed, "See how the small fish are darting about! That is the happiness of the fish."

"You not being a fish yourself," said Hueitse, "how can you know the happiness of the fish?"

"And you not being I," retorted Chuangtse, "how can you know that I do not know?"

"If I, not being you, cannot know what you know," urged Hueitse, "it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot know the happiness of the fish."

"Let us go back to your original question," said Chuangtse. "You asked me how I knew the happiness of the fish. Your very question shows that you knew that I knew. I knew it (from my own feelings) on this bridge."


ms_lili said...

Nice watercolor.

About ZZ and the happy fishes, like Joni Mitchell looking at the clouds, and love, my perspective on the story has changed from time to time.

For a long time I never questioned george henry's interpretation that Hui did indeed ask Zhuang the question because he knew Zhuang had the answer.

But what is "the answer"? Is the answer that yes, indeed, the fish are happy? Or is it dependent on the last thing said, which is I know the fish are happy because that's how being on the bridge makes me feel?

I think ZZ does know the answer, as teller of the story, which adds yet another layer.

ZZ da man. Reading him is like playing in a lake of warm milk chocolate. You're immersed in food and anytime you want a taste you stick out your tongue; but if you just want to feel it surrounding you and warming your being to the bones that's ok too.

Rick said...

I think happy fish are somehow tastier, like free range chicken is better than the frozen stuff. I don't think frozen fish sticks are all that happy.