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of take-no-action is part and parcel of his whole exposition. The inhumanity of and emptiness between Heaven and earth can well be seen as the extension of his principal idea of take-no-action. Heaven and earth follow the way of naturalness without taking arbitrary action. Yet, they incessantly generate one thing after another. Similarly, the sage conforms to the way of naturalness without taking action, yet he enables people to maintain their genuine selves and become what they should be. The counterpart of "take-no-action" is "take-action," of which "too much talk" (i.e. too many political orders or decrees) is a concrete example in the aspect of government. Then what would happen in the end if "take-action" of this kind were taken? It would be nothing but a quickened failure or death. Therefore Lao Zi reckons that "It is better to keep to tranquility," which is offered as conclusive advice.
It is noteworthy that Zhuang Zi recommends a kind of great or perfect humanity in contrast to inhumanity in general. He holds that Heaven and earth that possess Great Beauty remain silent (tian di you da mei er bu yan). The Chinese character mei can mean both "beauty" in an aesthetic sense and "good" in an ethical sense. When it is employed to suggest the latter, it is equivalent in meaning to "humanity." Hence a statement of Zhuang Zi implies that Heaven and earth have Great Humanity but never show it off. As a consequence of following the way of Heaven and earth, "the (Daoist) sage, in his conduct of war, might destroy a country without losing the hearts of the people. His benefits might extend to ten thousand generations without being a lover of man" (Cf. "The Great and Venerable Teacher" in The Book of Zhuang Zi). This is simply because Zhuang Zi maintains that "he who purposely manifests affection is not a man of humanity" (Ibid.) since "great humanity is not purposely affectionate" and "does not accomplish its object" if "constantly exercised" (Cf. "On Making All Things Equal" in The Book of Zhuang Zi). It is due to this belief that the Daoist sage "tears all things into pieces, yet he is not righteous. His blessing reaches all generations, yet he is not humane. He is more ancient than the highest antiquity, yet he is not old. He covers Heaven, supports earth and fashions the various forms of all things, yet he is not skillful. In him I make an excursion" (Cf. "The Great and Venerable Teacher"). The "excursion" is definitely of a free and easy type aimed at nourishing one's spiritual life and developing one's personal independence. It is through this "excursion," according to Zhuang Zi, that one would be able to realize that great humanity which is free from both affection and manifestation. It is at this stage that one would be close to the attainment of the Dao.
As for the simile `bellows' (tuo yue) used by Lao Zi for the space between Heaven and earth, it can be viewed as a symbol of the Dao in terms of its characteristics, such as emptiness and inexhaustibility. It is noteworthy that Zhuang Zi employs the metaphor "the store of nature" (tian fu) to suggest the potentiality of the Dao. "The store," he proclaims, "when things are put in it, is not full; when things are taken out, it is not empty" (Cf. "On Making All Things Equal"). The function of "the store" easily reminds us of "the valley" as described by Lao Zi. It is deep and bottomless, serving as the source of all things. What is inside can never be used up precisely because it is able to accommodate as well as generate everything.



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