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“Advising the Prince

The recluse Hsu Su Kwei had come to see Prince Wu.
The Prince was glad. "I have desired," he said, "To see you for a long time. Tell me if I am doing right.
I want to love my people, and by the exercise of justice
To put an end to war.
Is this enough?

"By no means," said the recluse.
"Your 'love' for your people
Puts them in mortal danger.
Your exercise of justice is the root
Of war after war!
Your grand intentions
Will end in disaster!

"If you set out to 'accomplish something great'
You only deceive yourself.
Your love and justice
Are fraudulent.
They are mere pretexts
For self-assertion, for aggression.
One action will bring on another
And in the chain of events
Your hidden intentions
Will be made plain.

You claim to practice justice. Should you seem to succeed
Success itself will bring more conflict.
Why all these guards
Standing at attention
At the palace gate around the temple altar

You are at war with yourself!
You do not believe in justice,
Only in power and success.
If you overcome
An enemy and annex his country
You will be even less at peace
With yourself than you are now.
Nor will your passions let you
Sit still. You will fight again
And again for the sake of
A more perfect exercise of justice!

Abandon your plan
To be a 'loving inequitable ruler.'
Try to respond
To the demands of inner truth.
Stop vexing yourself and your people
With these obsessions!
Your people will breathe easy at last.
They will live
And war will end by itself!”

― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu, Chapter 24.2

The Way of Chuang Tzu Quotes by Zhuangzi



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