Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 24, Part 13

Trey Smith

The king of Wu, boating on the Yangtze, stopped to climb a mountain noted for its monkeys. When the pack of monkeys saw him, they dropped what they were doing in terror and scampered off to hide in the deep brush. But there was one monkey who, lounging about nonchalantly, picking at things, scratching, decided to display his skill to the king. When the king shot at him, he snatched hold of the flying arrows with the greatest nimbleness and speed. The king thereupon ordered his attendants to hurry forward and join in the shooting, and the monkey was soon captured and killed. The king turned to his friend Yen Pu-i and said, "This monkey, flouting its skill, trusting to its tricks, deliberately displayed its contempt for me - so it met with this end. Take warning from it! Ah - you must never let your expression show arrogance toward others! "

When Yen Pu-i returned, he put himself under the instruction of Tung Wu, learning to wipe the expression from his face, to discard delight, to excuse himself from renown - and at the end of three years everyone in the state was praising him.

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Arrogance typically leads to some sort of downfall. When a person becomes to full of himself, he tends to behave carelessly and carelessness leads down the path of ruin.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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