Chapter Ten of the Chuang Tze is titled “Cutting open Satchels”. It begins with the following selection, written almost in the form of what we would call “stand-up comedy”. It is, in a Way, a diatribe against hoarding. There is a much deeper Level, of course.
In order to prevent thieves from cut open satchels, search bags, and break open boxes, the boxes must be bound with rope and cord or securely locked with clasps and bolts. This is ordinarily said to be wisdom. Even so, when thieves come along, one will hoist the box on a shoulder, another will lift up the satchels, sling the bag over a shoulder, and dash off, only worrying that the rope, cord, clasps and bolts are not fastened tightly enough. In that case, the one who earlier was called a Sage was in fact only piling up goods for thieves.
Let me backtrack and explain a little bit better what I mean. What the ordinary World calls a Sage is in fact someone who is only piling up goods for thieves. Do not those who are called Sages prove to be but guardians in the interest of thieves? How do I know this is so? In times past there was the State of Ch’i, its neighboring towns could see one another, their cocks and dogs never ceased to answer the crowing and barking of other cocks and dogs. The area in which they spread their hunting nets and traps, and plowed their fields was over 2000 li square, filling all the space within its four borders. Within their four boundaries they erected communal ancestral shrines and set up district offices for the rural areas. They followed the ideas of the Sages!
This seems to be making fun of Chapter Eighty of the Tao Teh Ching.
Yet one fine morning, Viscount T’ien Ch’eng murdered the Ruler of Ch’i and stole his State. Was it only the State that he stole? No, he also stole their wise and Sagely laws. Thus, although Viscount T’ien Ch’eng might have been called a robber and thief, he was able to rest as peacefully as a Yao or a Shun. The smaller States did not dare condemn him, the larger States did not dare to attack, and for twelve generations his family held possession of the State of Ch’i. Is this not a case in which a man, stealing the State of Ch’i, along with it stole the laws of the Sages’ wisdom and used them to guard the person of a thief and a bandit?
This really happened. According to James Legge, “this event is mentioned in the Analects of Confucius, XIV, xxii, where the murderer is called Khän Khäng-dze, and Khän Häng. Häng was his name, and Khäng the honorary title given to him after his death. The family to which he belonged had originally taken refuge inCh’i from the state of Khän in B. C. 672. Why and when its chiefs adopted the surname Thien instead of Khän is not well known. The murder took place in 482. Häng did not immediately usurp the marquisate; but he and his successors disposed of it at their pleasure among the representatives of the old House till 386, when Thien Ho was recognised by the king of Kâu as the marquis; and his next successor but one took the title of king.”
Let me backtrack again, and explain a little bit better what I mean. What the ordinary World calls a person of perfect wisdom is in fact someone who is only piling up goods for thieves. What the ordinary World calls a perfect Sage is in fact someone who stands guard for the benefit of great thieves. How do I know this is so? In times past, Kuan Lung-feng was beheaded, Pi Kan had his heart cut out, Ch’ang Hung was torn apart, and Wu Tzu-hsu’s corpse was left to putrefy. All four were Worthy, and yet they could not escape destruction.
Legge says that these were also real events. The point seems to be, that bad things can happen to anyone, no matter how Powerful or Virtuous, especially if one accumulates wealth. This Chapter of Chuag Tze has strong ties to Chapter Nine of the Tao Te Ching.