xū jǐ yǐ yóu shì 虚己以游世
Free One’s Mind to Enjoy the World
It means to clear mundane desires from one’s mind so as to move freely in the world. This expression comes from Zhuangzi, in which it is proposed by way of a conversation between an official named Shinan Yiliao and the Duke of Lu. It is argued in this conversation that people can trace the origin of their worries to their desire for external objects as well as their concern over gain and loss. Therefore, to rid themselves of worry and concern, people must overcome their greed. Only by freeing oneself from extraneous concerns can one adapt to the vicissitudes of life without being burdened and harmed by anything external. Such an attitude to life is what is meant by freeing one’s mind to enjoy the world.
Shinanzi said, “If hit by an empty boat, people who are crossing the river in a boat will not get angry, not even the most ill-tempered among them. But if that boat is manned, then people will shout that it should get out of the way. But if the person in that boat ignores them once or twice, he would get an earful of vicious curses. The reason for such an angry response the second time but not before is because the boat is no longer empty. If one can free his mind of worldly desire to enjoy life carefree, then nobody will be able to inflict harm on him.” (Zhuangzi)