Skip to main content

An Idol Apprentice.


There was once a man who went off to the E-Mei mountain, a celebrated place in Szchwan for temples. He went in order to learn how to lead a lazy life, with plenty to eat and to spend, and so apprenticed himself to one of the great idols of the place, who told him to carry water for the temple for a year.
"The year over, the idol told him he must work yet another year. Now, what the man ought to have done was to have got a fellow-apprentice. The proverb says, ' One monk carries two buckets of water; two monks carry a pail of water between them; three monks have no water at all because each leaves it to the other.' He carried for a second year and a third, then refused to do so any more.
'What! after only three years? Such folk as you must go on for thirty, before their store of merit is complete.' At which he realised that the idol was making game of him. He then pleaded that he was short of cash.
" ' Well, take the two handles of the temple doors and go! '
" ' What use are they? '
" ' Oh, the first is called, After-this-never-pay-your-debts, and the second, Never-pay-at-all. Thus you will be able to get on without work.' He declined the rings.
" ' Well, then, I will give you my bookshelves.' "
" ' What good are they? I cannot read, and do not mean to learn.'
"Oh, they are called the Library of Lies; the books will teach you how to deceive.'
" The man turned away in disgust, but the idol called out after him, ' Go to the god of riches, and ask him for help.'
" He accordingly went, and was encouraged by seeing an ingot of silver in the idol's hand. But the reply was disappointing. ' Yes, I have an ingot here, but it is like you. It is worthless and empty, and will only be firm [or stiff] when you are firm [or stiffened] in death.'
" Baffled here, he was recommended to go and appeal to the door god pictures. ' They are gaily clothed enough, a sure sign of wealth. Ask them for money.' But the two pictures replied that their clothing was only paint, and suggested that he should go and supplicate the god of literary honours. ' He is standing on one leg, as if leaping for joy. No doubt he is well off.'
" The man went, but was met with the reply, ' I happy? I well off? The rascally idol-makers have forgotten to give me my other leg. You may consider yourself lucky to possess two. Get along with you.'
" He then went to beseech the deified tortoise and snake, but had not time to get out even the word ' lend ' when the tortoise popped in its head, and the snake glided off.
" Baffled all round, he returned to his master, who said, ' Lazy fellows like you will be always in want to the very end.'
" That's just the thing, to the ' very bottom.' Good, isn't it? " And both laughed heartily.

Comments

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