Chuang Tzu put on his robe of coarse cloth with the patches on it, tied his shoes with hemp to keep them from falling apart, and went to call upon the king of Wei. "My goodness, Sir, you certainly are in distress!" said the king of Wei.It is sad that throughout history so many equate happiness with financial wealth. It is said that the rich are fat and happy, while the poor lived disheveled lives. Studies have shown that this belief is poppycock. While wealth certainly may guarantee various degrees of power and control, there are many, many wealthy individuals who are downright miserable.
Chuang Tzu said, "I am poor, but I am not in distress! When a man possesses the Way and its Virtue but cannot put them into practice, then he is in distress. When his clothes are shabby and his shoes worn through, then he is poor, but he is not in distress. This is what they call being born at the wrong time. Has Your Majesty never observed the bounding monkeys? If they can reach the tall cedars, the catalpas, or the camphor trees, they will swing and sway from their limbs, frolic and lord it in their midst, and even the famous archers Yi or P'eng Meng could not take accurate aim at them. But when they find themselves among prickly mulberries, brambles, hawthorns, or spiny citrons, they must move with caution, glancing from side to side, quivering and quaking with fear. It is not that their bones and sinews have suddenly become stiff and lost their suppleness. It is simply that the monkeys find themselves in a difficult and disadvantageous position where they cannot exercise their abilities to the full. And now if I should live under a benighted ruler and among traitorous ministers and still hope to escape distress, what hope would there be of doing so? Pi Kan had his heart cut out - there is the proof of the matter!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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