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 Welcome to Introduction on Lie Zi in Seeraa International, New and Updated Content as Below:

liezi
Profile of Liezi traveling by wind
liezi book
Book of Liezi

Liezi was the third greatest Taoist philosopher in history of Taoism next to Laozi and Zhuangzi, roughly living in the early period of the Warring States. His philosophy is rooted in the basic thoughts of Emperor Yellow and Laozi and emphasized Tranquility and Inaction. Historically, Liezi was not a pure Taoist, just written into the masters list after the establishment of Taoism as a religion.



Biography of Liezi

Liezi was a Taoist founder older than Zhuangzi, also named Lie Yukou(列御寇), which can be available in book of Zhuangzi as well. Liezi engaged in the morality study and academics all the life. He used to learn from Guanyinzi(关尹子),Huqiuzi(壶丘子), Laoshangshi(老商氏) , Zhibo Zigao(支伯子高) and so on. He led a reclusive life for more than 40 years in Zheng State, roughly in today’s Henan province, and put himself into cultivation. His academic view is Inactive Administration and Xuming Zeshi(循名责实, expect the reality to correspond to the name). Liezi was a great man with a great heart; he did not take notice of wealth and power, and did not take the honor and humiliation as a matter.

His family was so poor that he was in the danger of hunger, and the health was also bad. Someone advised Ziyang(子阳), the administrator of Zheng State, to help Liezi for getting a good social reputation. And then, Ziyang sent Liezi ten carts of food. Liezi quite appreciated his assistance but refused his giving. His wife blamed him:”I heard that the wife and children of the high-tao person can have a happy life, but currently I am in starvation, and Lord gave us the food, but you refuse to accept, how terrible my life is! ”. Liezi smiled to tell her:” Ziyang does not understand me at all, and sends me food in terms of other people’s suggestion, so he also may blame me someday due to other people’s words, so I can not accept his food”. One year later, a turmoil happened in Zheng State, and Ziyang was killed, and his companions were all killed as well. Liezi was saved, thanks to his refusal.

In the writing of Zhuangzi, Liezi was an immortal figure who focused on emptiness and profundity, also specializing in mastering a way to traveling the universe by wind. He used to travel the remoteness of the world in spring by wind. It was said that the spring would cover the land where he arrived. His flying travel is an absolute self-freedom admired by Taoism. In Tang Dynasty, in 739, he was crowned as Chongxu Zhenren by Emperor Xuanzong.



Book of Liezi

In accordance with the most reliable historic academic record, Record of Literature and Art of Book of Han, the second official book of history compiled by Ban Gu of East Han Dynasty, the book of Liezi was categorized as a Taoist book comprised of eight volumes. Liezi as a book also called Chongxu Zhenjing(冲虚真经),roughly written in the period from BC450 to BC375, is a quite Taoist classics. The book available at present actually is not the original one but the reedited one by later generations. The whole book recorded many fable stories and mythic legends, was said to be reedited by Zhang Zhan(张湛) , a scholar of East Jin Dynasty. The content of this book is widely themed, and some of them are quite educative. In accordance with the historical records: Book of Liezi consists of eight chapters: Tianrui, Zhongni, Tangwen, Yangzhu, Shuofu, Huangdi, Zhoumuwang and Liming. The most famous parts of his book are Yugong Yishan(愚公移山),Kuafu Zhuiri(夸父追日), Qiren Youtian(杞人忧天)and Huangdi Shenyou(黄帝神游)



Selected Stories of Two Children Debating on
the Sun and Lord Yu Moving Away Mountains


Two children debating on the Sun was a quite famous story written in book of Liezi, and the main figure was Confucius who was a negative man in Taoism and used to be seriously criticized and scorned by Taoist philosophers, so in many classics of Taoism, Confucianism is the villain of the stories, especially in book of Zhuangzi. This story also keeps this basic feature: Confucius eastwardly visited and saw two children debating, and he asked him what they were quarrelling about. One child said: “I think the sun at daybreak is the closest to us and farthest at noon”, the other defied and said:”I think the sun at daybreak is the farthest to us and closest at noon”. One child said”I think the sun at daybreak is as large as a carriage cover, and like a plate at noon. This just tells us the sun looks small when farther away from man, and big when closer to man”, and the other said”The sun at daybreak is cold and freezing, but at noon, it is as hot as the boiled water, and this tells us the sun is hot when it is closer to man, and cold when farther away from man”. Confucius could not give a judgment. Two children laughed at him “Are you the man said to be knowledgeable?”

painting of yugongyishan created by Xu Beihong
A representated painting themed with Yugong Yishan created by Xu Beihong, a modern painting master of China


Yugong Yishan(愚公移山, Lord Yu Moving Away Mountains) is an idiom largely used after 1949 thanks to the promotion of Chairman Mao in his famous political writings. This is a story written in book of Liezi: Yugong(Lord of Fool) lived in a village blocked by two great mountains named Taihang Mountain and Wangwu Mountain. It seriously annoyed the daily life of the villagers. For eliminating this trouble, he together with his families and younger generations engaged in moving the mountains. This is a story highly praising the strong willpower and perseverance of Lord Yu, on the other hand also tells the people the aspect of fool of Yugong, he spent a great cost to do an thing beyond their ability, so he was called Lord Fool. But this fool was emphasized by new China, and they think nothing is impossible as long as having a strong willpower. Is it right?