The K'uei envies the millepede, the millepede envies the snake, the snake envies the wind, the wind envies the eye, and the eye envies the mind.Each being is unique. While we certainly share attributes with like beings, no life is the same. Each of us has our own innate nature that is like no other.
The K'uei said to the millepede, "I have this one leg that I hop along on, though I make little progress. Now how in the world do you manage to work all those ten thousand legs of yours?"
The millepede said, "You don't understand. Haven't you ever watched a man spit? He just gives a hawk and out it comes, some drops as big as pearls, some as fine as mist, raining down in a jumble of countless particles. Now all I do is put in motion the heavenly mechanism in me - I'm not aware of how the thing works."
The millepede said to the snake, "I have all these legs that I move along on, but I can't seem to keep up with you who have no legs. How is that?"
The snake said, "It's just the heavenly mechanism moving me along - how can I change the way I am? What would I do with legs if I had them?"
The snake said to the wind, "I move my backbone and ribs and manage to get along, though I still have some kind of body. But now you come whirling up from the North Sea and go whirling off to the South Sea, and you don't seem to have any body. How is that?"
The wind said, "It's true that I whirl up from the North Sea and whirl off to the South Sea. But if you hold up a finger against me you've defeated me, and if you trample on me you've likewise defeated me. On the other hand, I can break down big trees and blow over great houses - this is a talent that I alone have. So I take all the mass of little defeats and make them into a Great Victory. To make a Great Victory - only the sage is capable of that!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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