列子 Liezi (pronounced Lea-zi):
–《列子 – 黃帝》
Lie Yu Kou (Liezi) was on his way to the state of Qi, but in the middle of his journey he turned back and ran into Bo Hun Mao Ren (Master Confused Nonentity).
Bo Hun Mao Ren asked him:
“What made you change directions and come back?”
“I was startled by something.”
“What startled you?”
“I stopped to eat some food in ten different inns and in five of them I was served before anyone else.”
Bo Hun Mao Ren said:
“What was so startling about that?”
“Even when your inside honesty and sincerity isn’t displayed to others, sometimes the actions you take with your body reveals your inner light. At that point people you come into contact with can open their minds to being influenced by you, and without a second thought set you up as a paragon. That’s what worried me. When the innkeepers gave me special treatment and served me their finest soup, I thought it might get even worse by the time I got to Qi. If those who had so little were willing to give me so much and without a second thought treated me as though I was powerful, then how much more would a king with ten thousand chariots try to heap on me! His body worn out from defending the state and his knowledge at the brink of exhaustion by dealing with all the state’s affairs, he’d appoint me to be in charge of something and demand my services expecting a successful outcome. The realization of that is what startled me.”
Bo Hun Mao Ren said:
“Very good insights! However, being as you are, people will still try to serve you.”
When Bo Hun Mao Ren went to pay Liezi a visit on a later date he found that there were sandals (of guests) lined up outside his door. Bo Hun Mao Ren turned away and stood there tapping his walking stick. His brow was creased pensively and the corners of his mouth drooped in consternation. He stood there idly without saying a word then left.
The person in charge of greeting guests went in and told Liezi about the visitor. He grabbed up his sandals and went running barefoot to the outer gate where he caught up with him and said:
“Master, you’ve just arrived and now you’re going to leave without offering me a remedy for my ills?”
Bo Hun Mao Ren:
“I already told you that people would try to serve you, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
It’s not that you go out of your way to make people serve you, but that you’re not able to make people stop serving you. You’re probably finding something useful about their emotional enthusiasm toward you, as you keep encouraging them. If you must have this kind of emotional reaction around you then it’ll continue to agitate the core of your own nature. That goes without saying. And yet you keep on following this course. You know, no one will point this out to you, as they all just share petty words with you, and you lap it all up. None of them wants to learn to see anything nor wake up to anything, so what could they possibly share with each other! The clever ones keep working hard at being clever and the knowledgeable ones worry about how knowledgeable they are. Those without any talents whatsoever have no concept of looking for anything. They’re satisfied with having a good meal and go drifting from there. They float about as though they’re on an unmoored boat, dwell in a void and are drifters and wanderers.”
–from the Liezi, chapter “The Yellow Emperor”
[Above English translation is actually from Nina Correa’s translation of the Chuang Tzu, but the passage is identical to the one in the Liezi (the Outer Chapters of the Chuang Tzu and the Liezi share a few identical passages).]
Nina Correa’s translation is rather harsh, but still useable.
Less and less sandals now…