Why Zhuangzi didn’t become an official: a small official is too tired to be an official. It’s dangerous to be afraid of being an official

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As far as scholars in Chinese history are concerned, Zhuangzi is always the unreachable peak of their spiritual pursuit. The cultural significance of this Pinnacle lies in “falling into the body, dethroning intelligence, and knowing from the form, which is the same as Datong” (Zhuangzi Grand Master). Chuang Tzu, who entered the realm of “sitting and forgetting”, is a symbol of the complete liberation of the secular world and the complete freedom of the mind. Therefore, Zhuangzi, as a “totem”, has always been admired and emulated by scholars throughout the ages. In their view, Chuang Tzu’s philosophy of life, which neither “entered the world” nor “avoided the world”, but “toured the world” for the time being (“not arrogant over everything, not condemning right and wrong, but dealing with the secular world”), is the best spiritual comfort for himself in the situation of “nine out of ten people can’t see the world”. The difference only lies in that some people make efforts in this direction out of their nature, such as TaoYuanming, who is “quiet all over”; Some people, such as litaibai and Sudongpo, look back for the spiritual harbor of Zhuangzi after falling down on the road of life. However, I am afraid it is also true that people come to the same destination by different routes.

In fact, Chuang Tzu is a man, not a God, and his virtue and accomplishments are not so refined overnight. As Mr. Lu Xun said, even if he is a genius, his first cry when he leaves his mother’s belly is the same as that of an ordinary baby. It can never be a beautiful poem or a beautiful song. In my opinion, Chuang Tzu’s ability to understand the mysteries of heaven and earth and the mystery of life may depend on the special opportunities provided by his own setbacks in his official career. In other words, Chuang Tzu’s various connections with officialdom have just made him have a correct direction in his choice of life path, thus truly transcending the shackles of the general situation of the world and moving towards the realm of “balancing life and death with one right and one wrong”.

As we all know, the thousands of depressions and troubles of Chinese scholars come from the social state of “no skin, no hair”. As “Mao”, whether you are white and black, coarse and fine, soft and hard, long and short, you have to rely on the “skin” of a specific social system. According to the traditional cognitive concept, the meaning and role of Mao depends on whether you can be an official, enter the mainstream, have the right to speak, and not be marginalized. The so-called “all things are inferior, but only reading is high” means that scholars can offer a good price for their knowledge, wisdom and ability to the emperor’s family, ask a sky high price, and pay back the money on the spot (of course, this is only in the prosperous era of “emperor Shengming”), in exchange for a hat of different sizes and shapes. It seems that only in this way can we realize our own value – “to reach the goal is to improve the world”. As a result, generations of scholars are scrambling to squeeze into the official career, showing their teeth and touching their heads. That is, the ideal scene that Emperor Taizong lishimin of the Tang Dynasty was happy to see his success as “all heroes in the world fall into my heart”. In this case, where can we flaunt “spiritual freedom” and talk about “personality independence”. As the saying goes, “eat people’s soft mouth, take people’s hands short.”. Since you have become a servant for a while, and you have the opportunity to “bullshit”, “help” or even “help”, it is only natural that you should take the will of others as your will, go out and join the slave, follow the trend, and do a better job. You should strive to be an honest and upright official with a clear conscience. If you lack the determination, you will inevitably “do harm to the tiger” and harm the world.

In this sense, the depth of the relationship between a scholar and officialdom to a large extent determines how much of his natural nature can be maintained and how much of his spiritual freedom can be preserved. Chuang Tzu, TaoYuanming and others have little connection with officialdom, so their spiritual freedom space is relatively wide. They can sleep late in the daytime, dream of butterflies, and “sing with drums”; You can chant the poem “under the eastern fence of picking chrysanthemums, you can see the Nanshan Mountain leisurely, the mountain atmosphere is good day and night, and the birds are returning to each other” and “you can wave five strings with your hands and see off the flying goose”. Wangmojie, litaibai, Sudongpo and others are enthusiastic about official hats. They always fantasize about the role of “our generation is not Penghao people”, and eagerly look forward to the occurrence of such good things as “pie falling from the sky”, so that they can “laugh up and go out”. Therefore, their hearts will inevitably suffer more torture, worry about gain and loss, and ask for trouble, “it is more worrying to raise a glass to eliminate worry, and it is more flowing to cut off water”. As for Han Yu, Liu Zongyuan, Sima Guang, Wang Anshi, Zeng Guofan and others, they are both officials and scholars. The tone of “if you want to rule the world, you should sacrifice yourself to others” makes people feel disgusted. It is not enough to discuss. Zhuangzi’s luck, I think, is due to the ups and downs in his official career, so he avoided the embarrassment of “falling” and got rid of the danger of “falling”. Whether for the sake of supporting his family or for other reasons, Chuang Tzu was not very lofty and unrestrained at the beginning. He also set foot in the official career and worked as a “lacquer garden official” in the Song Dynasty and Mongolia for a while.

But again? It seems reasonable for Zhuang Zi to leave the job because he thinks the officials in the lacquer garden are inferior. However, when the ruler of the state of Chu sent a special envoy to invite Zhuang Zi to be prime minister, Zhuang Zi still refused. What is the reason? Below the prime minister and above thousands of people, he has a high position, a high reputation, a heavy position and great power. It should be the most prominent and glorious career peak pursued by scholars. However, Chuang Tzu didn’t appreciate it. He said that he would only be a little turtle doing somersaults in the rotten mud pond and not a big turtle in the temple. In a few words, he declined the kindness of the king of Chu and let the king’s envoy (equivalent to today’s organization minister or personnel director) take advantage of it and return disappointed. It was a total stupor. In fact, it is stupid to look at Chuang Tzu in this way. Chuang Tzu himself is not stupid at all, but extremely smart. In his opinion, the official position of the prime minister is too big and too high. Just as Xunzi Wang Ba said, the prime minister has the power to “list the strengths of all officials and listen to all things”. Once he climbs to this position, his status will naturally be higher, his salary will naturally be more, his authority will naturally be more, and he will enjoy nature. There is a steady stream of gold and silver sent to the door, there are beautiful women coming to snuggle up to the upper body, and prosperity is like spring breeze and autumn rain, which can not be stopped. However, as the saying goes, “if the wood is beautiful in the forest, the wind will destroy it; if the pile is higher than the shore, the current will turbulent; if people come out of the crowd, the destruction will follow.” While having great power, we also have to bear great responsibilities, and we have to be in great danger.

Under the autocratic monarchy system, accompanying a king is like accompanying a tiger. If you are not careful, you will not be eaten by the tiger! Fan Sui was a prime minister in those days. Isn’t he powerful enough? King Zhao of Qin sent him away with a few words. Lian Baiqi, such a meritorious veteran, lost his life in the first battle of Handan. The state of Chu, which courteously hired Zhuangzi, was even worse. Most of those who were prime ministers did not end well: in the spring and Autumn period, when the battle of Chengpu was defeated, Lingyin (that is, the prime minister) Ziyu had to resort to the sword to end it himself, so that his opponent, Duke Wen of Jin, was happy and cheered: “no more poison! No more poison!” During the Warring States period, Wuqi, as prime minister, assisted King mourn of Chu in his painstaking reform, which greatly changed the face of the state of Chu and became the leader of the seven heroes of the Warring States period. However, the result was that the nobility leaders of the state of Chu who retaliated with gratitude were branded as “traitors” and shot to death with indiscriminate arrows. This shows that there are difficulties for officials, especially for super large and high-ranking officials such as prime ministers, which are not the work of smart people. Chuang Tzu was rich in learning, knew the past and the present, and naturally understood this truth. He was not willing to joke about fame and wealth with his own life. Of course, he would not accept the prime minister’s Commission sent by the king of Chu. It can be seen that Chuang Tzu did not want to be an official, sometimes because he thought his official position was too big. Although he had the air and prestige of being an official, there were more crises of being an official. As an understanding person, he was afraid to avoid this deadly game. How could he get involved and play cards with jackals, wolves, tigers and leopards!

Small officials disdain to do it, but big officials don’t want to do it. So, does Chuang Tzu really hate being an official? I don’t think so. After Zhuangzi became a great thinker, I dare not speculate about his mentality in this regard, but I am afraid that in his early years, he would not completely refuse the temptation of being an official. Otherwise, we can not explain why he was even a sesame official like a lacquer garden official. In my opinion, the official that Chuang Tzu really wanted to be was a medium-sized official who was neither too big nor too small. On the one hand, such middle-level officials do not have to take on too much responsibility, and they do not have to wait on the monarch around them all day long, so that if they do not pay attention, the head on their neck is inexplicably moved; On the other hand, it has a certain status, power and prestige. There are subordinates to drive, little honey to amuse, oil and water to salvage. There is no great risk. It is not necessary to be as busy as the most grass-roots officials.

Chuang Tzu himself once said that being a man should be measured and appropriate, and should be between material and non material. In fact, this can also be understood as his master’s way on the issue of being an official: that is, being an official should also be between material and non material, neither big nor small. And history has also proved Chuang Tzu’s foresight: Ouyangxiu’s the story of the drunken Weng Pavilion, fanzhongyan’s the story of Yueyang Tower, Sudongpo’s the former Chibi Fu and other immortal chapters were all written when they were such middle-class officials as the prefect and the tuanlian! It can be seen that for scholars, being a medium-sized official is probably a better way to “enter the world” and “be born”, and it is also an ideal choice to realize their own life value.

In Chuang Tzu’s case, there was no such opportunity for a medium-sized official who was “talented or not talented”, so later he completely put an end to the idea of being an official. “I will not be an official for life, but I will be quick.” he spent his life with the standpoint and attitude of “traveling around the world.” he didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to do, nurtured and swam, and didn’t condemn right and wrong, but stayed with the secular world, In the absolute freedom of the spiritual kingdom, he galloped his own genius, “alone with the spirit of heaven and earth.”. As far as Chinese history is concerned, this may be a great blessing: there is no ordinary and mediocre bureaucrat, but a great and immortal master of thought.

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