TAOISM | The Cannibal Thief Who Ate Confucius’s Liver

jason gregory

In this episode of Enlightenment Today, I will explain the Taoist cannibal thief Robber Zhi found in the Zhuangzi text. Robber Zhi is one of the least known and understood in the Zhuangzi text. He is the embodiment of the Taoist attitude towards life, but people confuse this passage with historical events rather than seeing it as a parody. In the story, the moralist Confucius seeks to change Robber Zhi’s rebellious behavior. Confucius believes that someone as charismatic and handsome as Robber Zhi should take on an aristocratic title. When Confucius arrives, Robber Zhi is having a snack of human livers, symbolizing his complete contempt towards Confucian morality. What unfolds in this exchange is one of the greatest intellectual beatdowns within any Taoist text. Though Robber Zhi may appear gross and absurd in this passage, he is an example of the Taoist attitude towards life and how one should follow one’s nature. How can a cannibal thief be a Taoist? It depends on if you understand the depth of the parody. Find out more.

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Published on September 2, 2020

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