The following is the introduction to Chapter Six of the Chuang Tze, titled “Venerable Masters”. Chuang Tze, writing in an essay format, rather than in dialogue, is discussing an Ideal based on the Past.
Those who know the rôle played by Heaven and the rôle played by Humans have reached Attainment of True Wisdom. Those who know the rôle played by Heaven merge their Life with Heaven. Those who know the rôle played by Humans accept that Knowledge is a part of their intellect and increases that Knowledge because they accept their own ignorance. In the end they will have lived out their natural Life span and not have been cut down in the middle of their youth. This is the perfection of Knowledge.
“Heaven”, of course, refers to God/Spirit. It was very important for Chuang Tze to maintain an understanding in his Teachings of this distinction. He is also referring to the “God within us”. Metaphysicians take note of this!
Does this make sense? Maybe it does, but there is a flaw in this logic. Having Knowledge can only go so far and then it’s subject to measurement. One gets to a certain point then starts questioning how far they’ve gone. How do we know that what we call the Heavenly is not Human, and that what we call the Human is not Heavenly? How could I know whether what I think is coming from Heaven isn’t coming from People, and what I think is coming from People isn’t coming from Heaven? Moreover, one has to become a True Person before they can have True Knowledge.
Chuang Tze had set up a Straw Dog, and then burned it. The True Person sees with their Inner Mirror. This is a different type of Knowledge. The Sage not only knows the difference between what is from Spirit and what is from Matter, they know it with a special perception. This cannot be measured, of course. Regardless, all is Tao!
What do I mean by a “True Person”? The True Person of Ancient Times wasn’t opposed to the idea of being different than the rest of society, did not resort to heroism, did not grow proud in plenty, and did not plan ahead. A Person like this could commit an error without regret, and could meet with success and not make a show. A Person like this could climb to amazing heights without fear, could enter the water without getting wet, could enter the fire without being burnt. Their perception allowed them to Travel on the Road.
The True Person of Ancient Times slept without dreaming and woke without anxiety, they ate without savoring and their breath came from deep inside. The True Person breathed down to their heels. Others, the rest of Humanity, breathe with their throats, crushed and bound, spewing forth Words from their mouths like vomit, because they hold on to Desire, leaving only a narrow space for Heavens to enter.
This is all highly reminiscent, not surprisingly, of Chapter Fifteen of the Tao Te Ching, where Lao Tze discussed the “Sages of Old”.
The True Person of Ancient Times neither loved Life, nor loathed Death. They neither felt a need to be gracious when they departed, nor did they feel a need to be aloof when they entered. They could leave as swiftly as they arrived, and there was nothing more to it. They neither forgot from whence they came, nor did they question whither they were going. They celebrated what was received, and recaptured what had been forgotten. This is called not using the Mind to resist the Road and not using People to assist Heaven. This is what I call a True Person.
This paragraph seems to be a referent to Chapter Fifty of the Tao Te Ching, where Lao Tze discussed the Ten Percent rule.