Thoreau and Daoism

by Scott Barnwell Bao Pu 抱朴 April 30, 2019

Henry David Thoreau wrote something very Daoist in his book Walden. Appropriate Chinese characters added in select places:

“I do not value chiefly a man’s uprightness (義) and benevolence (仁), which are, as it were, his stem and leaves (末). Those plants of whose greenness withered we make herb tea for the sick serve but a humble use, and are most employed by quacks (儒、墨). I want the flower and fruit (實) of a man; that some fragrance (馨) be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse. His goodness (德) must not be a partial and transitory act (為), but a constant superfluity (厚), which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious (虛,不知).”



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