[Died 122 B.C. Ruler of Huai-nan, and grandson of the founder of the Han dynasty. A student of Taoism under its grosser aspects, he directed his attention to alchemistic research and to the discovery of an elixir of immortality. Becoming mixed up in some treasonable conspiracy, he perished by his own hand.]
DOES GOD INTERVENE?
OF old, Shih K'uang played before the Court a piece entitled "White Snow," the action of which was rendered by a cast of supernatural beings. Down came a storm of wind and rain; the Duke was stricken with old age, while afterwards his State became red with drought.
When a woman of the people cried aloud her wrongs to God, thunder and lightning came down and struck the palace of the Duke to ruins, crushing his Highness and breaking his limbs, followed by the sea flooding over the whole.
A blind musician and his wife from the people occupied a very lowly position, below even that of the humblest official. Nevertheless, with great earnestness they put aside their personal occupations and devoted themselves to worshipping the saints, so that their devotion became known and received encouragement in heaven above.
Thus it is clear that no matter whether isolated in the wilds, or in concealment at a distance, or in a double-walled stone house, or separated by intervening obstacles and dangers, there is no place to which a man can escape from God.
When our Martial King attacked the tyrant Shou, while crossing the river at the ford of Meng, the spirit of the wicked Marquis (who had been drowned there) stirred up the waves to fury against him, with a bitter wind and so black a pall of darkness that men and horses could not see one another. Then the Martial King, grasping in his left hand a golden halberd and in his right hand a white-tasselled staff, shook them at the river, saying, "I am the ruler of all under the sky; who dares to cross my path?" Thereupon, the wind fell and the waves were stilled.
The Duke of the Lu State had become involved in trouble with the Han State, and a battle was raging fiercely when the sun began to set. The Duke seized his spear and shook it at the sun, which forthwith went back three zodiacal spaces in the heavens.
Thus, if we keep our physical nature complete, and preserve our spirituality, this will allow of no injury to the body. In the hour of danger or difficulty, such earnestness will appeal to God; and if there has been no departure from the great archetype, what is there which cannot be accomplished?
ON THE NATURE OF TAO.
Tao roofs over the sky and is the foundation of the earth; it extends north, south, east, and west, stretching to the eight extreme points in those directions. Its height is beyond reach and its depth is unfathomable; it enfolds both the sky and the earth, and produces things which had been formless. It is like the flow of a spring, which starts bubbling up from nothing but gradually forms a volume of rushing muddy water which again gradually becomes clear. Therefore, if set vertically, it will block all the space between the sky and the earth; if set laterally, it will touch the shores of the Four Seas; inexhaustible by use, it knows neither the fulness of morning nor the decay of night; dispersed, it fills space; compressed, it is scarce a handful; scant, it can be ample; dark, it can be light; weak, it can be strong; soft, it can be hard. Though open on all sides, it contains the two cosmogonical Principles; it binds up the universe, while making manifest the sun, moon, and stars; it is thick as clay, and yet is watery; it is infinitesimally fine, and yet it can be subdivided; it makes mountains rise high and valleys sink low; it makes beasts to walk, birds to fly, the sun and moon to shine, the stars to move, the unicorn to come forth, and the phoenix to hover above us.
The first two Emperors of old obtained control of Tao, and established themselves in the centre of all things, and by their divine influence brought about civilization and gave peace to the world. Thus, the sky duly turned round, while the earth stood still, and the wheel of human life revolved without ceasing.