Chapter 1: When the Shoe Fits
Chu’i the draftsman could draw more perfect circles
freehand than with a compass.
His fingers brought forth spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind was meanwhile free and
without concern with what he was doing.
No application was needed,
his mind was perfectly simple and knew no obstacle.
So, when the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten;
when the belt fits, the belly is forgotten;
and when the heart is right, ‘for’ and ‘against’ are forgotten.
No drives, no compulsions, no needs, no attractions:
then your affairs are under control.
You are a free man.
Easy is right.
Begin right and you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy is to forget the right way
and forget that the going is easy.
Chuang Tzu is one of the rarest of flowerings, rarer even than a Buddha or a Jesus. Because Buddha and Jesus emphasize effort and Chuang Tzu emphasizes effortlessness. Much can be done through effort but more can be done through effortlessness. Much can be achieved through will but much more can be achieved through will-lessness.
And whatsoever you achieve through will, will always remain a burden to you; it will always be a conflict, an inner tension, and you can lose it at any moment. It has to be maintained continuously - and maintaining it takes energy, maintaining it finally dissipates you.
Only that which is attained through effortlessness will never be a burden to you, and only that which is not a burden can be eternal. Only that which is not in any way unnatural can remain with you forever and forever.
Chuang Tzu says that the real, the divine, the existential, is to be attained by losing yourself completely in it. Even the effort to attain it becomes a barrier - then you cannot lose yourself. Even the effort to lose yourself becomes a barrier.
How can you make any effort to lose yourself? All effort is born out of the ego, and through effort ego is strengthened. Ego is the disease. So all effort has to be left completely, nothing is to be done; one has to lose oneself completely in the existential. One has to become again like a small child, just born, not knowing what is right, not knowing what is wrong, not knowing any distinctions. Once distinctions enter, once you know this is right and that is wrong, you are already ill, and you are far away from reality.
A child lives naturally - he is total. He does not make any effort, because making an effort means you are fighting with yourself. A part of you is for and a part of you is against - hence the effort.
You can achieve much, remember. In this world, particularly, you can achieve much through effort because effort is aggression, effort is violence, effort is competition. But in the other world nothing can be achieved through effort, and those who start with effort finally also have to drop it.
Buddha worked for six years, continuously meditating, concentrating - he became an ascetic. He did all that can be done by a human being, not a single stone was left unturned - he staked his whole being. But it was an effort, the ego was there; he failed.