Master of Maintaining Good Health
As we find ourselves, green and raw, there are limits. But with understanding there are no limits. While we are limited, going with the unlimited leads to a dangerous end. Give up the vanity of pretending to understand. Or die. Those are your choices. Be good without seeking fame. Be fierce without seeking punishment. Originally, people wrongly believed that with the classics they could protect their health, perfect growth, provide for parents and live out a natural life.
When Duke Wen Hui's cook would butcher an ox, his hands would strike, his shoulders would roll forward, his feet would shift, his knees would pierce through. Whoosh went the knife. Suddenly, all was silence. It was like combining the Mulberry Grove dance with a public reading of the classics. Duke Wen Hui laughed and said, "Excellent! How have you hidden this skill until now?" The cook explained his use of the knife, "I place myself in goodness; goodness and the Way are one. This increases my skill. When I began butchering oxen, I simply saw an ox. Three years later, I was still not able to see the whole ox. Only now am I able to see the ox as a spiritual and not a material thing. I stop thinking about the pieces of ox and go where spiritual understanding guides me. I rely on Heaven's principles. I ascertain the large gaps, direct my knife into the big hollows. In this way, it is true that my knife never touches where bone and muscle meet, much less does it strike a big bone! A good cook replaces his knife once a year, yeah? A common cook breaks his knife once a month. I've had this knife for nineteen years, butchered thousands of oxen, and its blade seems like it just came off the whetstone. Joints have open spaces and a knife's edge has no width. When no width goes through open spaces, it goes through such a vastness that there is nothing to touch the passing blade. Thus my blade in nineteen years needs no sharpening. Unlike a common cook, I see what will be difficult. Fearfully, I stop myself. I no longer look at what appears before me. And then I move slowly. I move the knife very subtly and flesh parts from bone like dust settles to the ground. I lift my blade, looking all around in hesitation, until I feel myself fill up with goodness, and then I put up my blade." Duke Wen Hui said, "Excellent! I have heard the words of a cook and from him have learned how to nourish my vital principle."
Duke Wenxuan saw the Master of Right and, startled, said, "What man is that? A harbinger of evil? Is he from Heaven or merely a man?" The answer came, "Of Heaven, not of man. The Heaven-born are solitary messengers. They have only the appearance of man. Therefore their understanding comes from Heaven, not from man."
Marsh pheasants eat something every ten steps, drink something every hundred. Don't try to raise them in a cage. You can break their spirit. But it won't turn out well.
Old Boy died. Qin Shi lamented over him three times and left. His disciple asked, "Wasn't the master your friend?" Qin Shi replied, "Correct." The disciple asked, "That being so, you are going to mourn for him like this?" Qin Shi replied, "Correct. At first I believed as other men do. But not now. Inside, I am mourning for him. These old men cry as if he were their son. These young men cry as if he were their mother. Others cry because it is expected of them. These people don't intend to say these things. But they say them. They don't intend to cry like this. But they cry. They all violate the Principle of Heaven with too much sentiment. They neglect to accept that everything is in its right place. For the ancients, violating the Principle of Heaven was a crime. When the appropriate arose, our master had his time. When the appropriate departed, our master obeyed. Being at peace with our time and obedient to our place -- joy and sorrow do not enter into this. The ancients called this "understanding God's government."
Pointing this out is not as good as demonstrating it, which is required for complete understanding.