© eric – juin 2010

Vivre dans le Monde

mardi 6 mars 2007, par eric

Réformer les hommes ?

When Yen Ho was about to take up his duties as tutor to the heir of Ling Duke of Wei, he went to Ch’ü Po Yü for advice. ’I have to deal,’ he said, ’with a man of depraved and murderous disposition. If I do not hinder him in his crimes, I shall be endangering my country ; if I do hinder him, I shall endanger my own life. Such shrewedness as he has consists entirely in recognizing other people’s shortcomings ; it fails entirely to apprise him of his own. How is one to deal with a man of this sort ?’
’I am glad’, said Ch’ü Po Yü, ’that you have asked this question. You will need much caution and care. The first thing you must do is not to improve him, but to improve yourself. It is essential that your outward conduct should be accommodating, and equally essential that your heart should be at peace. And yet, both these essentials have their danger. The outward accommodation must on no account affect what is within ; nor must the peace that is within betray itself outside. For if what should be outward goes below the surface,


"You will stumble, you will stagger,
You will topple and expire."

Whereas if the inward peace of the heart betray itself on the surface,


"Comes recognition, comes fame,
Comes bale and woe."

If the person of whom you speak behaves like a baby, you too must behave like a baby. If he has his foibles, you too must have your foibles. If he behaves like a cad, then you too must behave like a cad. And if you probe [1] him, do so in a part where his skin is not sore. Do you not know the story of the mantis in the wheel-rut, how it tried to stop the chariot by waving its arms, and did not realize that, useful though they have always proved, this was a task beyond what they could accomplish ? The mantis’s arms are the part upon which it has most right to pride itself. Be careful not to meet a bad man’s villainy by displaying to him what is best in you. For that way danger lies. Have you not heard how a keeper of beasts deals with his tigers ? He never ventures to give them a live creature to eat, because when they have killed they become fierce. He never gives them a whole animal to eat, because when they rend flesh they become savage. He knows that what can be done with them when they are sated cannot be done when they are hungry. Tigers and men, though so different in species have this at least in common : towards those that look after them their feelings will be friendly so long as they are humoured ; and if despite what is done fo rthem they turn savage, it is because their moods have not been studied.

La traduction est d’Arthur Wailey.

On peut gloser sur ce passage de sagesse taoiste, sur son pessimisme, sa misanthropie. Moi, je crois que d’une façon ou d’une autre, ’l’ascenseur est toujours renvoyé’ [2].

Bonté et devoir : qualités naturelles de l’homme ?

Enfin, sous cet article et pour en terminer avec mes citations de (du) Zhuangzi, voici un passage délicieux où Confucius se fait remettre en place par Lao Tzu, toujours dans la traduction d’Arthur Wailey :

One day, Lao-Tse asked Confucius :
’Would you pray tell me, ’said Lao Tzu, ’are these qualities [goodness and duty] natural to man ?’

’Indeed these are,’ said Confucius. ’We have a saying that gentlemen


’Without goodness cannot thrive,
Without duty cannot live.

Goodness and duty are indeed natural to man. What else should they be ?’ ’And what pray, do you mean by goodness and duty ?’


’To have a heart without guile,
To love all men without partiality,

that,’ said Confucius, ’is the true state of goodness and duty.’

’Hum,’ said Lao Tzu, ’the second saying sounds to me dangerous. To speak of "loving all men" is a foolish exaggeration, and to make up one’s mind to be impartial is in itself a kind of partiality. If you indeed want the men of the world not to losse the qualities that are natural to them, you had best study how it is that Heaven and Earth maintain their external course, that the sun and moon maintain their light, the stars their serried ranks, the birds and beasts their flocks, the trees and shrubs their station. Thus you shall learn to guide your steps by Inward Power, to follow the course that the Way of Nature sets ; and soon you will reach a goal where you will no longer need to go round laboriously advertising goodness and duty, like the town-crier with hiss drum, seeking for news of a lost child. No, Sir ! What you are doing is to disjoint men’s natures !’...
’All this talk of goodness and duty, these perpetual pin-pricks, unnerve and irritate the hearer ; nothing, indeed, could be more destructive of his inner tranquillity... . The swan does not need a daily bath in order to remain white ; the crow does not need a daily inking in order to remain black. ... When the pool dries up, fish makes room for fish upon the dry land, they moisten one another with damp breath, spray one another with foam from their jaws. But how much better are they off when they can forget one another, in the freedom of river or lake !’

So ?


[1Perform acupuncture ; of course meant metaphorically

[2La réflexion n’a rien de taoiste ; elle se réfère plutôt au temps (récent) où on ne pouvait pas appeler l’ascenseur du rez-de chaussée et où il fallait ’renvoyer’ l’ascenseur de son étage au moment où on le quittait

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