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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

THE Penumbra said to the Umbra

THE Penumbra said to the Umbra, “At one moment you
move: at another you are at rest. At one moment you sit
down: at another you get up. Why this instability of
purpose?"
“I depend," replied the Umbra, “upon something which
causes me to do as I do; and that something depends in
turn upon something else which causes it to do as it does.
My dependence is like that of a snake's scales or of a
cicada's wings. How can I tell why I do one thing, or why
I do not do another?"
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Chuang Tzu one day saw an empty skull, bleached, but still preserving its shape. Striking it with his riding-whip, he said: “Wert thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate yearnings brought him to this pass?--
some statesman who plunged his country into ruin and perished in the fray?--some wretch who left behind him a legacy of shame?--some beggar who died in the pangs of hunger and cold? Or didst thou reach this state by the natural course of old age?"When he had finished speaking, he took the skull and, placing it under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the
night he dreamt that the skull appeared to him and said: "You speak well, sir; but all you say has reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles. In death there are none of these. Would you like to hear about death?"
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Chuang Tzu having replied in the affirmative, the skull began: “In death there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The workings of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are bounded only by eternity.
The happiness of a king among men cannot exceed that which we enjoy."
Chuang Tzu, however, was not convinced, and said: “Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and
to the friends of your youth,--would you be willing?"At this the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said: “How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the
toils and troubles of mortality?"

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