fter a short while of silence, Tzu Sang-hu died. Before he was buried, Confucius had heard about it and sent (his pupil) Tzu-kung to take part in the funeral. One of the friends was composing a song and the other was playing a lute and they sang in harmony, saying, "Alas' Sang-hu. Alas! Sang-hu. You have returned to the true state but we still remain here as men!" Tzu-kung hurried in and said, "I venture to ask whether it is in accord with the rules of propriety to sing in the presence of a corpse." The two men looked at each other, laughed, and said, "How does he know the idea of rules of propriety?" Tzu-kung returned and told Confucius, asking him, "What sort of men are those? There is nothing proper in their conduct, and they looked upon their bodies as external to themselves. They approached the corpse and sang without changing the color of countenance. I don't know what to call them. What sort of men are they?" "They travel in the transcendental world," replied Confucius, "and I travel in the mundane world. There is nothing common between the two worlds, and I sent you there to mourn! How stupid! They are companions of the Creator, and roam in the universe of one and original creative force (ch'I). They consider life as a burden like a tumor, and death as the cutting off of an abscess. Such being their views, how do they care about life and death or their beginning and end? To them life is but a temporary existence of various elements in a common body which they borrow. They are unaware of their livers and gall (emotions) and oblivious of their ears and eyes (sensation). They come and go, and begin and end and none will know when all these will stop. Without any attachment, they stroll beyond the dusty world and wander in the original state of having no [unnatural] action (wu-wei). How can they take the trouble to observe the rules of propriety of popular society in order to impress the multitude?"
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