Skip to main content

The neighbour of Yang Chu once lost a sheep

The neighbour of Yang Chu once lost a sheep. He began to search for it with all his kinsfolk, and asked assistance also from the servants of Yang Chu, who in astonishment said: "Oh, oh! why do you require such a large number of persons to seek for a single lost sheep?"

The neighbour replied: "There are many crossways to pursue and search out."

On his return he was asked if he had found his sheep, and replied that he had given up the search. Yang Chu asked him why he had given up the search. The neighbour answered: "Among the crossways there were a great many small diverging tracts. Not knowing which to follow I gave up the search and returned."

Yang Chu became pensive and wrapped in thought. For a whole day he neither smiled nor spoke.

His disciples, astonished at his attitude, asked him the reason, saying: "A sheep is an animal of little value; furthermore this one did not belong to you, Master. Why does its loss disturb your usual amiable humour and gaiety?"

Yang Chu made no answer.

His disciples were unable to understand the significance of his silence, and Meng-Sun-Yang went out and asked Hsin-tu-tse on the subject.

Another day Hsin-tu-tse accompanied by Meng-Sun-Yang came to Yang Chu and asked him saying:

"Once three brothers travelled through the Provinces of Chi and Lu. They were instructed under the same master and had studied the doctrine of humanity and justice. When they came to their father's house their father asked them what was the final conclusion they had arrived at in regard to the doctrine of humanity and justice.

"The one answered: 'The study of humanity and justice teaches me to love and respect my body, and to consider of less importance what makes for fame and glory.'

"The second said: 'The study of humanity and justice teaches me to sacrifice my body in order to obtain fame and glory.'

"The third said: 'The study of humanity and justice teaches me to discover a method of conciliating the desire of my body and the desire for fame.'

"These three contradictory theories arise from the teaching of the same master. Which of them is true? which is false?"

Yang Chu said: "There was once a man who lived on the banks of the river. He had a perfect knowledge of river lore, and was an expert swimmer. He was boatman of his state and gained his living managing his boat. His gains were considerable and would provide for the maintenance of a hundred persons. Those who desired instruction under his direction came to him bringing a sack of grain and became his pupils. Quite half among them drowned themselves. In coming to him they had the intention of learning to swim, and not of drowning themselves. In the end the successes and failures were equal (since half learnt to swim and half were drowned). Which among them do you think were right, and which were wrong ? "

Hsin-tu-tse kept silence. But Meng-Sun-Yang took him up saying: "Well, is this not right? It is because your question was put in so vague a fashion that the answer of the Master is so evasive. Meanwhile I am in a greater darkness than before."

Hsin-tu-tse replied: "Because the large roads divide into innumerable small pathways and tracks the sheep was lost. The aspects of wisdom being multiplied, many students lose themselves. It does not matter if at the beginning all start from the same aspect of wisdom, there are always divergencies at the end. The single thing that re-establishes equality is death and the annihilation of personality at death. It is indeed pitiable that you, an ancient disciple of the Master and a student of the Master's doctrine, should not comprehend the meaning of his parables."


Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was