The philosophy of this brilliant thinker of China does not start with pessimism like that of the Upanishads or of Shakyamuni Buddha. Chuang Tzu does not find the world a net to imprison the soul, or think human life to be a soul dragging a corpse along with it. He finds harmony, beauty and order in the universe, and delights not only in its contemplation, but also in an active life therein. He does not ask his disciples to kill out desires or to retire to solitary caves for contemplation, nor does he believe in a Nirvana which implies the extinction of consciousness.
His goal is the same as that pointed out in the Upanishads—the union of the individual with the whole ; but the Whole of Chuang Tzu is not Abstract, nor is it the Absolute of Shankara. “ If you conceal the whole universe in the whole universe, there will be no room left for it to be lost. This is an eternal fact. Men consider that attainment of a human form is a source of joy. But the human form is only one of the countless forms in the universe.
If one identifies one’s own self with the universe, one will undergo all transitions and attain all forms, with only the infinite and eternity to look forward to. What incomparable bliss is that ! Therefore the supreme man makes excursions in that which can never be lost, and which endures always. Those who can deal with death, old age, beginning and end, are already considered as teachers of mankind. How greatly superior to this is he who identfies himself with that which is the supporter of all things and conditions all evolution.”
“ Such a man will bury gold on the hillside and cast pearls into the sea. He will not struggle for wealth, nor strive for fame. He will not rejoice at old age, nor grieve over early death. He will find neither pleasure in success, nor chagrin in failure. He will not account a throne as his own private gain, nor the empire of the world as glory personal to himself. His glory is to know that all things are one, and that life and death are but phases of the same existence.”
“ That which is Infinite is happiness,” says the Upanishad, “ the finite can never lead to true happiness.” The Vedanta Sutras clearly point out that limitations are fetters and that one desiring true happiness must dwell in the consciousness of Eternity. Chuang Tzu says that this state of being at one with the universe is a psychological development which any man can attain in this very life, and so live in perpetual happiness.