Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P'u River, the king of Ch'u sent two officials to go and announce to him: "I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm."We each choose to be enslaved in one form or another. We allow our bones to be placed in a box, rather than living a life of genuine freedom and spontaneity.
Chuang Tzu held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, "I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch'u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?"
"It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud," said the two officials.
Chuang Tzu said, "Go away! I'll drag my tail in the mud!"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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