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Showing posts from August, 2009

The man of perfect faith can move heaven and earth

Mr Fan had a son named Tzu Hua, who succeeded in achieving great fame as an exponent of the black art, and the whole kingdom bowed down before him. He was in high favour with the Prince of Chin, taking no office but standing on a par with the three Ministers of State. Any one on whom he turned a partial eye was marked out for distinction; while those of whom he spoke unfavourably were forthwith banished. People thronged his hall in the same way as they went to Court. Tzu Hua used to encourage his followers to contend amongst themselves, so that the clever ones were always bullying the slowwitted, and the strong riding rough-shod over the weak. Though this resulted in blows and wounds being dealt before his eyes, he was not in the habit of troubling about it. Day and night, this sort of thing served as an amusement, and practically became a custom in the State. One day, Ho Shêng and Tzu Po, two of Fan's leading disciples, set off on a journey and, after traversing a stretch of wild

How to become a good thief

Mr Kuo of the Ch'i State was very rich, while Mr Hsiang of the Sung State was very poor. The latter travelled from Sung to Ch'i and asked the other for the secret of his prosperity. Mr Kuo told him. 'It is because I am a good thief,' he said. 'The first year I began to be a thief, I had just enough. The second year, I had ample. The third year, I reaped a great harvest. And, in course of time, I found myself the owner of whole villages and districts.' Mr Hsiang was overjoyed; he understood the word 'thief' in its literal sense, but he did not understand the true way of becoming a thief. Accordingly, he climbed over walls and broke into houses, grabbing everything he could see or lay hands upon. But before very long his thefts brought him into trouble, and he was stripped even of what he had previously possessed. Thinking that Mr Kuo had basely deceived him, Hsiang went to him with a bitter complaint. 'Tell me,' said Mr Kuo, 'how did you set a

A man in the Ch'i State was afraid the universe would collapse and fall to pieces

There was once a man in the Ch'i State who was so afraid the universe would collapse and fall to pieces, leaving his body without a lodgment, that he could neither sleep nor eat. Another man, pitying his distress, went to enlighten him. 'Heaven,' he said, 'is nothing more than an accumulation of ether, and there is no place where ether is not. Processes of contraction and expansion, inspiration and expiration are continually taking place up in the heavens. Why then should you be afraid of a collapse?' The man said: 'It is true that Heaven is an accumulation of ether; but the sun, the moon, and the stars--will they not fall down upon us? His informant replied: 'Sun, moon and stars are likewise only bright lights Within this mass of ether. Even supposing they were to fall, they could not possibly harm us by their impact.' 'But what if the earth should fall to pieces? 'The earth,' replied the other, 'is merely an agglomeration of matter, whi

In life there is no rest

Tzu Kung was tired of study, and confided his feelings to Confucius, saying: 'I yearn for rest.' Confucius replied: 'In life there is no rest.' 'To toil in anxious planning for the future, to slave in bolstering up the bodily frame--these are the businesses of life.' 'Is rest, then, nowhere to be found? 'Oh yes!' replied Confucius; 'look at all the graves in the wilds, all the vaults, all the tombs, all the funeral urns, and you may know where rest is to be found.' 'Great, indeed, is Death!' exclaimed Tzu Kung. 'It gives rest to the noble hearted, and causes the base to cower.' 'You are right,' said Confucius. 'Men feel the joy of life, but do not realize its bitterness. They feel the weariness of old age, but not its peacefulness. They think of the evils of death, but not of the repose which it confers.'

An aged man

Confucius was travelling once over Mount T'ai when he caught sight of an aged man roaming in the wilds. He was clothed in a deerskin, girded with a rope, and was singing as he played on a lute. 'My friend,' said Confucius, 'what is it that makes you so happy?' The old man replied: 'I have a great deal to make me happy. God created all things, and of all His creations man is the noblest. It has fallen to my lot to be a man: that is my first ground for happiness. Then, there is a distinction between male and female, the former being rated more highly than the latter. Therefore it is better to be a male; and since I am one, I have a second ground for happiness. Furthermore, some are born who never behold the sun or the moon, and who never emerge from their swaddling-clothes. But I have already walked the earth for the space of ninety years. That is my third ground for happiness. Poverty is the normal lot of the scholar, death the appointed end for all human beings.

Suspect the neighbor of stealing an axe

A man, having lost his axe, suspected his neighbour's son of having taken it. Certain peculiarities in his gait, his countenance and his speech, marked him out as the thief. In his actions, his movements, and in fact his whole demeanour, it was plainly written that he and no other had stolen the axe. By and by, however, while digging in a dell, the owner came across the missing implement. The next day, when he saw his neighbour's son again, he found no trace of guilt in his movements, his actions, or his general demeanour. 'The man in whose mind suspicion is at work will let himself be carried away by utterly distorted fancies, until at last he sees white as black, and detects squareness in a circle.'

All singing all dancing Robot

King Mu of Chou made a tour of inspection in the west. He crossed the K'un-lun range, but turned back before he reached the Yen mountains. On his return journey, before arriving in China, a certain artificer was presented to him, by name Yen Shih. King Mu received him in audience, and asked what he could do. 'I will do anything,' replied Yen Shih, 'that your Majesty may please to command. But there is a piece of work, already finished, that I should like to submit first to your Majesty's inspection.' 'Bring it with you to-morrow.' said the King, 'and we will look at it together.' So Yen Shih called again the next day, and was duly admitted to the royal presence. 'Who is that man accompanying you?' asked the King. 'That, Sire, is my own handiwork. He can sing and he can act.' The King stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that any one would have taken it for a live human

The Simpleton of the North Mountain and The Wise Old Man of the River-bend

The two mountains T'ai-hsing and Wang-wu, which cover an area of 700 square li, and rise to an enormous altitude, originally stood in the south of the Chi district and north of Ho-yang. The Simpleton of the North Mountain, an old man of ninety, dwelt opposite these mountains, and was vexed in spirit because their northern flanks blocked the way to travellers, who had to go all the way round. So he called his family together, and broached a plan. 'Let us,' he said, 'put forth our utmost strength to clear away this obstacle, and cut right through the mountains until we come to Han-yin. What say you? They all assented except his wife, who made objections and said: 'My goodman has not the strength to sweep away a dunghill, let alone two such mountains as T'ai-hsing and Wang-wu. Besides, where will you put all the earth and stones that you dig up? The others replied that they would throw them on the promontory of P'o-hai. So the old man, followed by his son and g


Mr Yin of Chou was the owner of a large estate who harried his servants unmercifully, and gave them no rest from morning to night. There was one old servant in particular whose physical strength had quite left him, yet his master worked him all the harder. All day long he was groaning as he went about his work, and when night came he was reeling with fatigue and would sleep like a log. His spirit was then free to wander at will, and every night he dreamt that he was a king, enthroned in authority over the multitude, and controlling the affairs of the whole State. He took his Pleasure in palaces and belvederes, following his own fancy in everything, and his happiness was beyond compare. But when he awoke, he was servant once more. To some one who condoled with him on his hard lot the old man replied: 'Human life may last a hundred years, and the whole of it is equally divided into nights and days. In the daytime I am only a slave, it is true, and my misery cannot be gainsaid. But by

The Zoo Keeper Assistant

The Keeper of Animals under King Hsüan, of the Chou dynasty, had an assistant named Liang Yang, who was skilled in the management of wild birds and beasts. When he fed them in their park-enclosure, all the animals showed themselves tame and tractable, although they comprised tigers, wolves, eagles and ospreys. Male and female freely propagated their kind, and their numbers multiplied. The different species lived promiscuously together, yet they never clawed nor bit one another. The King was afraid lest this man's secret should die with him, and commanded him to impart it to the Keeper. So Liang Yang appeared before the Keeper and said: 'I am only a humble servant, and have really nothing to impart. I fear his Majesty thinks I am hiding something from you. With regard to my method of feeding tigers, all I have to say is this: when yielded to, they are pleased; when opposed, they are angry. Such is the natural disposition of all living creatures. But neither their pleasure nor th

The sailor and the sea-gulls

There was once a man, a sailor by profession, who was very fond of sea-gulls. Every morning he went into the sea and swam about in their midst, at which times a hundred gulls and more would constantly flock about him. 'Creatures are not shy of those whom they feel to be in mental and bodily harmony with themselves.' One day his father said to him: 'I am told that sea-gulls swim about with you in the water. I wish you would catch one or two for me to make pets of.' On the following day, the sailor went down to the sea as usual, but lo! the gulls only wheeled about in the air and would not alight. 'There was disturbance in his mind, accompanied by a change in his outward demeanour; thus the birds became conscious of the fact that he was a human being. How could their instinct be deceived?' ( Lieh-Tzü , with Introduction and Notes by LIONEL GILES)

The Tyrant Emperor of Shang Dynasty: Zhou

Emperor Yi's eldest son was Qi, viscount of Wei. Qi's mother being of low caste, he could not be heir to the throne. His younger son was Xin, whose mother was the principal consort, and so he became the heir-apparent. Emperor Yi died, and his son Xin sat on the throne. Emperor Xin was called by everybody in the empire Zhou (the tyrant). Emperor Zhou's discrimination was acute, his hearing and sight particularly good, his natural abilities extraordinary, and his physical strength equal to that of a wild beast. He had cunning enough to evade reproofs, and volubility enough to gloss over his faults. He boasted that he was above his minsters on the ground of ability, and that he surpassed the people of the empire on account of his reputation. He indulged in wine, women, and lusts of all sorts. His partiality for Daji caused him to carry out whatever she desired, so that his ministers had to devise new forms of dissipation, the most depraved dances and extravagant music;

Emperor Wuding did not speak for three years

This story is about Emperor Wuding of Yin Dynasty, who did not speak for three years and found his prime minister Fu Yue that he had seen in his dream. When Emperor Wuding was on the throne, he pondered how the Yin dynasty could be revivified, but as he had not obtained an assistant he did not speak for three years, government affairs having to be conducted by the prime minister, who examined into the customs of the country. Wuding dreamed one night that he had found a holy man named Yue, and, in order that he might secure the man he had seen in his dream, he passed under review his officers and ministers of State, but not one of them was the right man. He then made all his officers search for him in the wilds, and Yue was discovered at the crag of Fu. At this time Yue was a clerk, not a builder at the crag of Fu. He had an audience of Wuding, who said, 'That is the right man.' Wuding promoted him to be his prime minister. The kingdom of Yin was well governed in consequence, an

Virtue is not overcome by evil omens

In Yin Dynasty, Emperor Taiwu came to the throne. In his reign, Yizhi became prime minister, when there was omens in Bo, for a mulberry tree and a stalk of grain grew up together in the court. They attained full size in one evening, and emperor Taiwu, being alarmed, questioned Yinzhi on the subject. Yinzhi said: 'I, your servant, have heard that virtue is not overcome by evil omens. there may be defects in your Majesty's government, but let your Majesty cultivate virtue.' Taiwu followed his advice, and the ominous mulberry withered away.

to leave one (or three) side of the net open

The Chinese Idiom 'to leave one (or three) side of the net open or give the wrongdoer a way out' are derived from the story of Emperor Tang of Shang Dynasty. One day Tang went out and saw a rustic, who was spreading nets in every direction, and vowing that every bird in the sky should go into his net. Tang said, 'What! all?' Then, taking away the nets on three sides, he vowed that those which wanted to go to the left should go left, and those which wanted to go right should go right, and that only those which were the victims of fate should be caught in the net. The princes, hearing of it, said, 'Tang's kindness is extreame, and extends even to birds and beasts.' At this time Jie of Xia was oppressive, and his rule dissipated, and one of the princes Kunwu rebelled, so Tang, levying an army, put himself at the head of the princes. They marched against Kunwu, and then attacked Jie of Xia. They overthrew the Xia Dynasty and established the Shang Dynas

The Tyrant king of Xia Dynasty: Jie Gui

Xia Jie riding on men (Xia Jie playing in the Wine Lake) The last King of Xia Dynasty was Jie Gui, who was a tyrant. His greatest extravagance was to build a lake filled with wine on which he and his court floated about. The retaining dikes made of dregs were so high that they could be seen ten li away. Three thousand men could drink from the lake, lapping up the wine like so many cattle. His ministers, one after another, cautioned him against such display, but he refused to listen. Worthy ministers who remonstrated with him were put to death or driven from the court. Jie would heed only evil men who brought confusion to the court. Warned by his minister Yi Yin that the Mandate of Heaven was about to be withdrawn, Jie clapped his hands and laughed uproariously, exclaming:"So you too warn of evil omens! My possession of the empire is like the sun being in the sky. Can the sun be destroyed? When the sun perishes, then I too shall be destroyed!" Yi Yin was driven out o


(Dragon tamer playing with dragons) (Dragon tamer playing with dragons) In Xia Dynasty, Emperor Kongjia was fond of enquiring into spiritual matters, and indulged in dissipation, and the virtue of the princes of Xia having degenerated, the chiefs rebelled. Heaven sent down two dragons, a male and a female. Kongjia could not feed them, and could not obtain a dragon-keeper. After the decline of Tangtao(Yao) one of his descendants, Liu Lei, learnt to train dragons, and he was chosen out of the dragon-tamer, which was inherited by the descendants of Shiwei. The female dragon died, and he served it up as a meal for the Prince of Xia, but the latter having sent some one to look for it, he became frightened and ran away. The first named Dragon-tamer is Dongfu, who, during the time of Emperor Shun, was enfeoffed in the place of Dong, where was his surname came from. (Dongfu, the first known Dragon-tamer)