Her collection of short stories is called 華胥の幽夢, and I finally got around to the title story with Sai-rin moping because her king promised her a dream of 華胥 and didn't deliver. Err yes, and what is 華胥 anyway? That second kanji isn't even in Nelson's, which, actually, is a sure tipoff that we're dealing with something Chinese. Heat has melted my brain; can't recall how I found out last night though I expect it was by plugging the kanji into expert.goo, and yes that's what Japanese google is called. Turns out that those mentions of the Yellow Emperor in the story were indeed apropos. Though *why* they were, within the 12K settei, I know not. YE belongs to us, but the 12K folk act as if he was a well-known 12K historical figure.
In the event, 華胥 is the country of Hua Xu that the Yellow Emperor had a dream about:
Then, for a further period of fifteen years, (the emperor) grieved that the Empire was in disorder; he summoned up all his intelligence, exhausted his resources of wisdom and strength in trying to rule the people. But, in spite of all, his face remained haggard and pale, and his sensations dull and confused.
'The practice of enlightened virtue will not succeed in establishing good government, but only disorganize the spiritual faculties!'
Then the Yellow Emperor sighed heavily and said: 'My fault is want of moderation. The misery I suffer comes from over-attention to my own self, and the troubles of the Empire from over-regulation in everything.' Thereupon, he threw up all his schemes, abandoned his ancestral palace, dismissed his attendants, removed all the hanging bells, cut down the delicacies of his cuisine, and retired to live at leisure in private apartments attached to the Court. There he fasted in heart, and brought his body under control. ...
For three months he abstained from personal intervention in government. Then he fell asleep in the daytime, and dreamed that he made a journey to the kingdom of Hua-hsü, situated I know not how many tens of thousands of miles distant from the Ch'i State. It was beyond the reach of ship or vehicle or any mortal foot. Only the soul could travel so far. ...
This kingdom was without head or ruler; it simply went on of itself. Its people were without desires or cravings; they simply followed their natural instincts. They felt neither joy in life nor abhorrence of death; thus they came to no untimely ends. They felt neither attachment to self nor indifference to others; thus they were exempt from love and hatred alike. They knew neither aversion from one course nor inclination to another; hence profit and loss existed not among them. All were equally untouched by the emotions of love and sympathy, of jealousy and fear. Water had no power to drown them, nor fire to burn; cuts and blows caused them neither injury nor pain, scratching or tickling could not make them itch. They bestrode the air as though treading on solid earth; they were cradled in space as though resting in a bed. Clouds and mist obstructed not their vision, thunder-peals could not stun their ears, physical beauty disturbed not their hearts, mountains and valleys hindered not their steps. They moved about like gods.
When the Yellow Emperor awoke from his dream, he summoned his three Ministers and told them what he had seen. 'For three months,' he said, 'I have been living a life of leisure, fasting in heart, subduing my body, and casting about in my mind for the true method of nourishing my own life and regulating the lives of others. But I failed to discover the secret.
'It is wrong to nourish one's own life, wrong to regulate those of others. No attempt to do this by the light of intelligence can be successful.'
Worn out, I fell asleep and dreamed this dream. Now I know that the Perfect Way is not to be sought through the senses. This Way I know and hold within me, yet I cannot impart it to you.'
'If the Way cannot be sought through the senses, it cannot be communicated through the senses.'
For twenty-eight years after this, there was great orderliness in the Empire, nearly equalling that in the kingdom of Hua-hsü. And when the Emperor ascended on high, the people bewailed him for two hundred years without intermission.
I offer this for what it's worth. Though seriously, the laissez-faire of Daoism sometimes looks as dour as any Zen self-abnegation.