Laozi & Zhuangzi
Daoist Responses to the Confucian Solution

The Chinese character for "Dao" (the Way) with Laozi on the left and Zhuangzi on the right
Revolving yin-yang symbol composed of black and white fish
Map of the Warring States period with various philosophers
Bamboo page divider
The Dao of Confucius: Confucius beside the Chinese character "Dao" (the Way)
The Dao of Confucius: "It is humans that make the Way great, not the Way that makes humans great."
Taiji (yin and yang) with Heaven and Earth

The Dao of Daoism: Daodejing, Chapter 25 (click for link)
Cosmic Taiji (yin-yang symbol)
Star Wars (Video)

The Dao of Star Wars (Book)
Chinese characters for "wuwei" (non-purposive action)
The Way of Wuwei: "In the pursuit of learning one knows more every day; In the pursuit of the way one does less every day. One does less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all, there is nothing that is undone." (Daodejing 48)
Taijiquan
The Secret of Caring for Life
Zhuangzi, Chapter 3
Cleaver cuttingCook Ding was cutting up an ox for Lord Wenhui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Jingshou music.
       “Ah, this is marvelous! said Lord Wenhui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”
       Cook Ding laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And nownow I go at it by spirit (shen) and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.
       A good cook changes his knife once a yearbecause he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room more than enough for the blade to play about in. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.
       “However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”
       “Excellent!” said Lord Wenhui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ding and learned how to care for life!” (Sources of Chinese Tradition, 104)
Rubik's Cube Animated
Two “Wuwei” Solutions to the
Collapse of the Sociopolitical Order
 
 
1. The Way of the Reclusive Sage
Zhuangzi, Chapter 1
 
[T]here is a Holy Man living on faraway Ku-she Mountain, with skin like ice or snow, and gentle and shy like a young girl. He doesn’t eat the five grains, but sucks the wind, drinks the dew, climbs up on the clouds and mist, rides a flying dragon, and wanders beyond the four seas. By concentrating his spirit, he can protect creatures from sickness and plague and make the harvest plentiful. (Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, 27)
Enso (empty circle)
Yao wanted to cede the empire to Hsü Yu. “When the sun and moon have already come out,” he said, “it’s a waste of light to go on burning the torches, isn’t it? When the seasonal rains are falling, it’s a waste of water to go on irrigating the fields. If you took the throne, the world would be well ordered. I go on occupying it, but all I can see are my failings. I beg to turn over the world to you.”
       
Hsü Yu said, “You govern the world and the world is already well governed. ... Go home and forget the matter, my lord. I have no use for the rulership of the world!
 
Daoist Funeral
 
Though the cook may not run his kitchen properly, the priest and the impersonator of the dead at the sacrifice do not leap over the wine casks and sacrificial stands and go take his place.” (Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, 26-7)
 
Daoist Sage (Laozi) on the Throne
2. The Way of the Sagely Ruler
Daodejing, Chapter 37

The Way is constant: by doing nothing,
nothing is left undone (wuwei er wu bu wei 無為而無不為)
If lords and kings can hold to it, all things will,
of themselves, be transformed.
If, as they are transformed, desires arise,
I suppress them by means of the nameless uncarved wood.
From the nameless uncarved wood comes absense of desire,
Through not desiring one becomes tranquil,
And the empire, of itself, becomse settled.

(Sources of Chinese Tradition, 87)
butterfly (representing Zhuangzi)