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Waley (WP:Intro) – abstinência e jejum = chai

domingo 4 de setembro de 2022


The term chai   (abstinence and fasting) implied the curbing of all sensual and physical activities. The exercise, then, of any of the senses, whether of sight, smell, taste or hearing, the use of any sinew or limb, was regarded as a potential menace to the soul  . If this menace were physical, if it were directly observable, we should all be sages. ‘Suppose there were some sound which, when the ear heard it, was agreeable but which caused the ear afterwards to go deaf, we should take good care not to listen to it. Suppose there were some colour which, when the eye saw it, was agreeable but which caused blindness to follow, we should take good care not to look at it.’ [Lu Shih Ch’un Ch’iu, P’ien 2] Unhappily the wrong use of the senses is deleterious in a far subtler way; in as far then as government of any kind is needed, in a state where each person is privately perfecting his own inner nature, it will consist in the presence among the people of ‘better people’ who will tell them which physical satisfactions are dangerous and which profitable to the ‘life within’. But these ‘better people’ (hsien) must not form a separate class supported by the labour of others, and so allowing themselves to be ‘completed’ at the expense of other people’s ‘incompleteness’. It was, I think, ideas of this kind that inspired the followers of Hsu Hsing  , who dressed in coarse   haircloth, wore hemp sandals instead of leather shoes and supported themselves by weaving mats; the people whom Mencius rebuked by quoting the saying: ‘Some work with their minds, others with their bodies. Those who work with the mind   rule; those who work with the body are ruled. Those who are ruled feed their rulers; those who rule, feed upon those they rule.’ ‘Which’, Mencius added, ‘is accepted as common sense   by every one under heaven.’ Sects of this kind naturally travelled about trying to find a milieu that would be sympathetic to their doctrines. Hsii Hsing   and his followers had, when interviewed by Mencius, [1] already trekked some four hundred miles. If unsuccessful in this quest they settled in some remote spot outside the sphere of governmental interference. The literature of the 3rd century B.C. is full of references to recluses, people who ‘lived among rocks or in holes in the ground’ and ‘even if they were offered salaried employments would not accept them’. [Han Fei Tzu, 45 and 49]

‘A ruler’, says Kuan Tzu, [P’ien 65] ‘should not listen to those who believe in people having opinions of their own and in the importance of the individual. Such teachings cause men to withdraw to quiet places and hide away in caves or on mountains, there to rail at the prevailing government, sneer at those in authority, belittle the importance of rank and emoluments, and despise all who hold official posts’. As we have seen, the real reason why such persons refused to draw official salaries and insisted on living in their own way on the fruit of their own labour was that they thought society should consist of individuals each complete in himself, and it was against their consciences to be supported by ‘hairs’ drawn from the suffering head of the community at large. A certain Ch‘en Chung was a scrupulous recluse of this class. He belonged to an important family in the land of Ch‘i (now part of Shantung). His ancestors had held high office for many generations on end, and his elder brother   administered a fief from which he received a revenue of 10,000 chung. [2] As it was against Ch‘en Chung’s principles to live on what he regarded as ill-gotten gains, he left his brother’s house and set up at a remote place called Wu-ling. Here he supported himself by making hemp-sandals, his wife twisting the hemp-thread. Their livelihood was very precarious and on one occasion Ch‘en had nothing to eat for three days. ‘His ears no longer heard, his eyes no longer saw.’ But he knew that on a tree by the well  -side there was a plum, half eaten by maggots. In desperation he groped his way to the spot, gulped the plum down, and so recovered his sight and hearing.

Once when he was staying for a while at his brother’s house someone sent the family a live goose as a present. ‘What use can they suppose you could make of a cackling thing like that?’ Ch‘en Chung asked, frowning. A few days later his mother killed the goose and not telling him what it was gave him some for his dinner. ‘I suppose you know what it is you are eating,’ said his brother, coming into the room. ‘That’s cackle-cackle’s flesh  !’ Ch‘en went out into the courtyard and vomited.

We might be tempted to think that Ch‘en Chung was, among his other scrupulosities, a vegetarian. But I do not think that is the point of the story. He regarded the goose, which was no doubt a gift from one of the tenants, as part of his brother’s ill-gotten gains; hence his disapproval of the arrival of ‘cackle-cackle and his nausea at the thought of having partaken of such a dish. [3] [WaleyWP  :Intro]

Ver online : Arthur Waley - The Way and its Power

[1Actually, their views were transmitted to Mencius by an intermediary.

[2A tenth of the revenue of a prime minister. The story of Ch en Chung will be found in Mencius, III. 2. 10. He is said also to have worked as a gardener (Shih Chi, 83, end). A collection of anecdotes concerning him, entitled Wu-ling Tzu, made its appearance in the 16th century, and is in all probability the work of Hsu Wei (Wen-ch’ang, 1520-1593). The surname Ch’en was pronounced T’ien in the Ch’i state, and he is therefore sometimes called T’ien Chung.

[3A great many stories of hermits and recluses could be cited from Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu, but most of them are more or less in the nature of fairy-tales.