Monday, June 30, 2014

Four Old Chinese stories by Liezi, Chinese Philosopher

Dr Abe V Rotor
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Liezi, or Lie Yukou, is the author of the Daoist book Liezi, 

1. Man who Lost his Axe 
Prejudice and suspicion

A man who lost his axe suspected his neighbor's son of stealing it. He watched the way the lad walked - exactly like a thief. He watched the boy's expression - it was that of a thief. He watched the way he talked - just like a thief.

In short, all his gestures and actions proclaimed him guilty of theft.

But later he found his axe himself when he went out to dig. And after that, when he saw his neighbor's son, all the lad's gestures and actions looked quite unlike of a thief. (Lie Zi*)~ 

2. Man Who Loves Sea Gulls 
Hidden Intention is known

A man who lived by the sea loved seagulls. Every morning at daybreak he would go to the seaside and play with the gulls. Hundreds of gulls would come to him and not fly away.

His father said, "I heard that seagulls like to play with you. Catch a few for me so that I can play with them too."

The next morning when he went to the seaside the seagulls swooped about in the skies but none came down to him.

One may try, but unable to, hide one's inner thoughts. Even birds and animals can sense one's true feelings.

3. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
Behaving by own volition 

On the way to Song, Yang meets a man at the town of Ni. The man has two wives, one is very attractive and the other one is quite plain. But the man favors the not so attractive one.

So Yang asks him why. The man answers:"The pretty one knows she is pretty. I don't. The plain one knows she is plain. I don't. A bad person knows he is bad. I don't."

Yang says:"I will remember what you just said. The Saint behaves as a Saint, by his own volition."

4. The Sky is Falling

Worried about nothing

Once there was a man from Qi, who was worried about falling sky and sinking earth.

A friend, worried about his worrying, came to calm him.

He said to the man, "The sky is all air, nothing but air. As you inhale and exhale, and breathe air into the sky all day long, there is no need to worry about falling sky."

The man then asked, "So the sky is just air. Then what about the Sun, the Moon and the stars falling from the sky?"

He replied, "These are only twinkling objects of air. Even if they fall, they won't hurt you."

The man continued, "What about sinking earth?"

He replied, "The earth is made up of solid blocks of earth, which filled up all spaces. There are no empty spaces. If you stamp you feet on the ground all day, the earth will not sink."

*Liezi, (Chinese: “Master Lie”) or Lie Yukou, is the author of the Daoist book Liezi, which uses his honorific name Liezi. There is little historical evidence of Lie Yukou as a Hundred Schools of Thought philosopher during the Warring States Period. This could be due to the burning of books and burying of scholars which occurred during the reign of Qin Shi Huang. However, some scholars believe that the Zhuangzi invented him as a Daoist exemplar. 


In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang, which are often shortened to "yin-yang" or "yin yang", are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, high and low, hot and cold, fire and water, life and death, male and female, sun and moon, and so on) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science, philosophy, medicine, martial arts.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects. In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole.

 In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang. Along with Confucianism, “Daoism” (sometimes called “Taoism“) is one of the two great indigenous philosophical traditions of China. 

Taoism is an Eastern religion/philosophy with perhaps 225 million followers. Although it is more accurately referred to as a philosophy, books on world religions inevitably include it with other religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism.

The exact number of followers is impossible to estimate because many of its followers also identify with other religions -- often Buddhism and Confucianism -- and because it is impossible to obtain reliable polling information from individuals in China.
Taoists were heavily persecuted in China for years after the Communist victory in 1949, and during the cultural revolution from 1966 to 1976. Some religious tolerance and freedom has been restored over the last three decades.

Acknowledgment: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica. other Internet and printed sources.

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