"Compare the area within the four seas with all that is between heaven and earth - is it not like one little anthill in a vast marsh? Compare the Middle Kingdom with the area within the four seas - is it not like one tiny grain in a great storehouse? When we refer to the things of creation, we speak of them as numbering ten thousand - and man is only one of them. We talk of the Nine Provinces where men are most numerous, and yet of the whole area where grain and foods are grown and where boats and carts pass back and forth, man occupies only one fraction. Compared to the ten thousand things, is he not like one little hair on the body of a horse? What the Five Emperors passed along, what the Three Kings fought over, what the benevolent man grieves about, what the responsible man labors over - all is no more than this! Po Yi gained a reputation by giving it up; Confucius passed himself off as learned because he talked about it. But in priding themselves in this way, were they not like you a moment ago priding yourself on your flood waters?"Our planet seems so expansive, yet in the totality of the universe, it is but a speck. The world from the perspective of each of us seems so big and yet, compared to all the other lives being lived, it's like a grain of salt.
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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