Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 25, Part 9

Trey Smith

Hui Tzu, hearing this, introduced Tai Chin-jen to the ruler. Tai Chin-jen said, "There is a creature called the snail - does Your Majesty know it?"

"Yes."

"On top of its left horn is a kingdom called Buffet, and on top of its right horn is a kingdom called Maul. At times they quarrel over territory and go to war, strewing the field with corpses by the ten thousand, the victor pursuing the vanquished for half a month before returning home."

"Pooh!" said the ruler. "What kind of empty talk is this?"

"But Your Majesty will perhaps allow me to show you the truth in it. Do you believe that there is a limit to the four directions, to up and down?"

"They have no limits," said the ruler.

"And do you know that when the mind has wandered in these limitless reaches and returns to the lands we know and travel, they seem so small it is not certain whether they even exist or not?"

"Yes," said the ruler.

"And among these lands we know and travel is the state of Wei, and within the state of Wei is the city of Liang, and within the city of Liang is Your Majesty. Is there any difference between you and the ruler of Maul?"

"No difference," said the king.

After the visitor left, the king sat stupefied, as though lost to the world. The interview over, Hui Tzu appeared before him. "That visitor of ours is a Great Man," said the king.

"The sages themselves are unworthy of comparison with him!" Hui Tzu said, "Blow on a flute and you get a nice shrill note; but blow on the ring of your sword hilt and all you get is a feeble wheeze. People are inclined to praise the sages Yao and Shun, but if you started expounding on Yao and Shun in the presence of Tai Chin-jen, it would sound like one little wheeze!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Lots of people highly value diamonds, but diamonds are just rocks.

You want what I have and I want what you have, but neither of us can take what we want with us on our final journey.

We humans quarrel and fight over loads and loads of nothing!

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

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