Poems of Meng Jiao
Among animals there is humanity.
Only accidents of fate set us apart.
Among men are hearts of beasts.
Even ordinary people can recognize this.
The ancients appeared as beasts
But had great spirituality.
Moderns are human only on the surface.
Their beastly hearts are easily discerned.
Smiling, they may not be harmonious.
Crying, they may not even be sad.
Their faces and words do not match.
In their bellies, they give birth to thorns.
Good men keep to the Way
And do not disobey the world.
Evil men are full of clever flattery,
Lacking justice, careless in their ways.
If you wish to imitate true man,
Let your heart be firm as iron and stone.
Do not flatter. Do not bully.
Do not exaggerate or be self-indulgent.
Have a face without the coloring of stinginess,
A heart without swindling, anxieties, and fear.
Gentlemen express virtue and justice,
morning and evening, truly constant.
This poem of Meng Jiao's is full of practical perspicacity: the apprehension of humanity, or true goodness, in animals; the ability of all men to perceive evil in others; the carelessness of the greedy; the faces expressing the heart. Its basis, like many of his other poems, is the Dao, the Great Way. This was, for many, a practical pursuit and not a religion. And this is expressed in the extraordinary line: [Good men] do not disobey the world. Religion is a kind of obedience to the next world. Daoism, as religion, like Buddhism and Christianity, focused on the next world -- and on adherents paying their tithes in this one. The Daoist religion was the first in a long line which, like Mormonism today, expects big pay-ins and reciprocates with helpful pay-outs in times of need. But for those upon the Way itself there was only the one world, a world of virtue and justice, which must be obeyed.