Zhuang Zi’s eight kinds of methods for health cultivation

Zhuang Zi is one of the prominent philosophers in the era of the Warring States. He has done much study about man’s spirit, integrity, nature-cultivation, heart-cultivation and advocated the nature-cultivation of unselfishness, few desires, quietness and transcendence.

Unselfishness. In the opinion of Zhuang Zi, selfishness is the origin of all evils and diseases. One is certain to worry about the gain and loss for everything and be in a state of restlessness if he is often self-centered and calculative and then overstrains of his body and exhaustion of his essence will ensue in a long run. In order to live for a long life one should be broad-minded, high-spirited, optimistic, free from fame and gain and unselfish.

Few desires. Neither abstinence from desires nor self-indulgence is helpful to nature-cultivation. Self-indulgence is certain to make one get into trouble or catch a disease. One won’t cheat or humiliate the other sex with little sexual passion. One won’t murder for money with little desire for substance. One won’t feign compliance, cut corners, play down the others and boost oneself with little desire for power. One who know his honour and disgrace and his place can be called the man with the nature of justice, honest and unselfishness who can be healthy and live at rest. In the present time, there is too much temptation all over the world. Most people are hunting for the happiness of substance and impatient, and someone is addicted in the desire for power, profit, sex, greed and hobbies. One will lose his temper and take it out on others when he is dissatisfied with what he had. Thereafter, those bad emotions such as worry, anxiety, depression, mourn, regret and anger will ensue and hurt his body.

Quietness. One can’t be affected by disaster nor attacked by exogenous pathogen with mental stability as well as indifference to fame or gain in the daily life and social intercourse. Quietness can restrain anger, rid of worry, settle down the mind and cultivate the health. Rather than thinking of nothing, quietness is one kind of mind state that should make one be far from the music and sex pleasure, out of win or loss, gain or loss, honour or disgrace, neither worry nor overstrain should exist. There is too much spirit-dispersing temptation including money, rank, fame and gain, beauty etc in the world. In this confused world, one should keep calm and out of power, fame and gain, money and scene of debauchery. Such mind state will make those bad emotions like nervousness, worry, anger, jealousy and hatred far from you and keep your mind calm. Quietness can make your mind at rest, Qi and blood circulation normal and then the modulation of your body will be normal and you will be healthy and live a long life.

Transcendence. There is a vivid metaphor in the book of Zhuang Zi, which the pheasant in waters can survive because of their optimism. They enjoy their lives, peck and drink something from time to time. It is not the same for the caged birds. It is certain that one will worry if he is imprisoned in the spirit shackles. That will be harmful to his health. Therefore, he advocates that one should be optimistic and open-minded, not be moved by grief and joy and enjoy his life. Zhuang Zi looks upon the life in an unprejudiced manner and let the nature take its course. He lives a hard life and from hand to mouth sometimes. He doesn’t care about all of that. His wife was dead and Hui Zi went to mourn for her. He started to sing instead of weeping. Hui Zi criticized him for his singing. He said calmly: at first, I am very sad about her death, and then I thought about carefully how man comes and goes in this world. I have the idea that man changes from the non-biotic substance. Figure takes shape and man has a life when Qi gathers. Man is dead when Qi scatters. Now my wife’s body is dead and will change into non-biotic substance. So I celebrate and say a farewell to my wife for her regression to the nature in the way of singing with beating the tub. What he said is not certain to be reasonable, but his transcendent and open-minded manner treating his life is worth advocating.

Reference: Zhuang Zi’s eight kinds of methods for health cultivation jsqg.sport.org.cn

The Tao is near and yet people seek it far away

Those whose vital spirit is scattered outwardly and whose intellectual ruminations ramble inwardly cannot govern their bodies. When what the spirit employs is distant, then what it loses is nearby.

So know the world without going out the door, know the weather without looking out the window; the further out it goes, the less knowledge is. This means that when pure sincerity emerges from within, spiritual energy moves in heaven.

Reference: Title quote from Mencius, Lyrics Wen-Tzu: Understanding the Mysteries 20 p. 26 translated by Thomas Cleary