“Tzu Ssu, Tzu Yu, Lzu Li, and Tzu Lai said to each other: “Whoseover can make nothing the head of his existence, life its backbone, and death its tail, whosoever knows that death and life, existence and nonexistence, are one-that man shall be our friend. The four men smiled, silently agreed with each other, and thus became friends.
Not long after, Tzu Yu fell ill, and Tzu Ssu went to see him. “The Great Tao is making me all crookety up like this!” said the sick man. His back was hunched; his viscera were at the top of his body; his cheeks were level with his navel; his shoulders were higher than his crown; his neck vertebral bones pointed to the sky: the principles of his whole body were out of order. Nevertheless, his mind was at ease and not affected. He limped to a well, looked at his reflection, and said: “The Great Tao has caused me to have such an appearance!”
“Do you dislike it?” asked Tzu Ssu.
“No,” said Tzu Yu; “Why should I dislike it? If my left arm would be transformed into a cock, I should use it to sneeze as many times as possible. If my right arm, would be transformed into a crossbow, I should look for a bird to bring down and roast. If my rump bone would be transformed into a wheel, and my spirit into a horse, I should mount it, and would have no need of any other steed. When we come, it is because we have the occasion to be born. When we go, we simply follow the natural course. Those who are quiet at the proper occasion and follow the course of nature cannot be affected by sorrow and joy. Why should I dislike my condition?”
- From the section called “The Great Teacher.” In: Chuang-Tzu translated by Yu-Lan Fung – with a few slight modifications.