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Showing posts from November, 2009

Play harp before a cow

Once up on a time, there lived a musician named GongMing Yi. He was very good at playing the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. But he also behaved foolishly sometimes.

One day, he saw a cow eating grass in the field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully and he himself was intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds. It simply focused its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised to see that. He couldn’t understand why the cow was so indifferent to his performance. Obviously, it is not because his performance is poor. But the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!

From that story comes the idiom “Play the lute to a cow”, which implies that someone speaks or writes without considering his audience. In general speaking, the speaker or writer has over-estimated his listeners or readers. In these cases, the idiom mocks the audience rather than t…

Point to the Deer and Make it a Horse

In the reign of Emperor the Second of the Qin Dynasty (Qin Er Shi, 221-207 B.C.), the prime minister Zhao Gao, was very afraid of officials plotting against him, he arranged for a way to discover those that were against him.

One day, before Qin Er Shi and the gathered officivals, Zhao Gao reported that he had acquired a fine horse and wished to give it to the emperor. Qin Er Shi, pleased with this offer, ordered the horse to be brought it. A servant brought in a deer.

Qin Er Shi laughed heartedly and said to Zhao Gao, “Why Prime Minister, that is no horse, it’s a deer!”

Zhao Gao lowered his head and replied: “Your Highness, even your dragon eyes must sometimes be at fault. Why, this is plainly a horse!”

The second emperor thought that Zhao Gao meant this to be a joke and said to the assembled officials: “Very well! The Prime Minister says that it is a horse, and I say that it is a deer. Will the officials offer their opinions on whether this animal is a horse or a deer?”

This questio…

The Origin of the Zhou Dynasty

The ancestor of Zhou dynasty’s royal family was Hou Ji). Hou Ji’s mother’s nameds Jiang Yuan of the tribe of You Tai Shi. She was the primary wife of King Ku who was one of the five emperors of the Chinese myth.


One day, Jiang Yuan went to the wilderness, she saw a giant's foot print. She stepped on it and was “moved” and became pregnant. When she gave birth to Hou Ji, he was born still covered with some sort of membrane and looked like an egg. His family thought he was unlucky, and they abandoned him on the street, but the horses and cows avoided stepping on him. His family removed him to the forest. However, there were woodcutters in the forest. They threw him onto ice. The birds gathered and covered him with their wings. Jiang Yuan thought there must be gods protecting him, so she took him back. Because she had abandoned him at first, she called him Qi.

Since Hou Ji’s childhood, he liked to plant things and he was very good at it. People learned from him and improved their farm…

Pan Gu Separates Heaven and Earth

In the beginning, the universe was all blackness and emptiness. Then suddenly a bubble appears, which becomes a ball of smoke, Then it begins to coalesce and grows and grows for millennia, eventually becomes a red, egg-shaped object, inside this object lies Pan Gu.

After 18,000 years, Pan Gu awakes. Appalled by the infinite blackness, he throws open his arms and legs to break this suffocating emptiness, separating heaven and earth. The clear and light positive energies rise gradually, becoming the sky. The turbid and heavy negative energies descend gradually, becoming the earth. But the breach between heaven and earth is not large enough; Pan Gu is still confined. He will not let the opening close up again, returning to void. So he plants his feet firmly on the ground, puts his hands on the sky and forces them further apart. From then on, the sky will become one zhang higher, the earth one zhang denser, and Pan Gu one zhang taller every day. After another 18,000 years, Pan Gu had gro…

The disgraceful means which some men take to seek for their living, and for wealth

A man of the state of Chi had a wife and a concubine, and lived together with them in his house.

When their husband went out, he would get himself well filled with wine and flesh, and then return, and, on his wife's asking him with whom he ate and drank, they were sure to be all wealthy and honourable people. The wife informed the concubine, saying, 'When our good man goes out, he is sure to come back having partaken plentifully of wine and flesh. I asked with whom he ate and drank, and they are all, it seems, wealthy and honourable people. And yet no people of distinction ever come here. I will spy out where our good man goes.'

Accordingly, she got up early in the morning, and privately followed wherever her husband went. Throughout the whole city, there was no one who stood or talked with him. At last, he came to those who were sacrificing among the tombs beyond the outer wall on the east, and begged what they had over. Not being satisfied, he looked about, and went to…

A superior man may be imposed on by what seems to be as it ought to be

Some one sent a present of a live fish to Tsze-ch'an of Chang (郑子产).

Tsze-ch'an ordered his pond-keeper to keep it in the pond, but that officer cooked it, and reported the execution of his commission, saying, "When I first let it go, it embarrassed. In a little while, it seemed to be somewhat at ease, then it swam away joyfully." Tsze-ch'an observed, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!"

The pond-keeper then went out and said, "Who calls Tsze-ch'an a wise man? After I had cooked and eaten the fish, he says, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!"

Thus a superior man may be imposed on by what seems to be as it ought to be, but he cannot be entrapped by what is contrary to right principle.