One day, a man of the State of Chu was crossing a river by boat. Due to carelessness, his sword which hung at his side fell into the water. Not in the least worried, he slowly took out a
small knife and cut a mark on the side of the boat.
Someone on the boat asked him:
”Why don’t you jump into the water at once to fish for your sword? What’s the use of making this mark on the side of the boat?”
He pointed to the mark on the side of the boat, saying unhurriedly:
”There is no need to worry. My sword fell into the river at this marked place. As soon as the boat reaches the dock and pulls in to shore, I will jump down from here to retrieve my sword.”
One day, King Li of the State of Chu announced to the people: If any emergency occurs in our country, the drum will be beaten as a signal. The moment the people hear the drum, they must
assemble outside the palace gate at once.
One day, King Li got drunk. When he passed by the drum stand, he started to beat the drum at random. When the people heard the drum, they ran from all directions to the palace gate, thinking
that some emergency had occurred in the country. They stood all around in a dense mass.
King Li sent someone to tell them:
”Just now the King beat the drum, but nothing urgent had happend It was only because the King got drunk and when he passed by the drum stand, he beat the drum just for fun.”
All the people returned to their homes, feeling angry.
A few months later, some emergency really occurred in the State of Chu. The drum outside the palace gate sounded from early morning until night. Though the people heard the drum, they no
longer cared about it and didn’t rush to the palace gate.
Once upon a time, a man saw a doorbell hanging from someone’s door and wanted to steal it.
But he knew that if he were to steal the bell, it would start ringing the moment his hand touched it. If he were discovered, not only he couldn’t get the bell, but he himself might also be
He thought this over and said to himself:
”Why will there be trouble when a bell rings? This is because our ears can hear it. If I cover my ears, I won’t be able to hear it. This way I won’t be caught.”
Later, he eventually got an idea. He first covered his own ears, then went on to steal the bell. However, in the end he was still discovered and caught red-handed.
King Hui of Liang watched the cook dissecting an ox. Up went his hand, down went the knife, cutting it just right with dexterous movements. The King praised:
“Your skill is excellent!”
The cook answered:
”1 can do it so dexterously because I am familiar with the physiological structure of the ox. I see perfectly well each and every part of the ox which is no longer a whole ox to me. I have a
clear mental picture of where its joints and main and collateral channels are, and know exactly where to start cutting and how much force is needed.”
The cook continued:
”The knives of others become blunt after being used for a short time, whereas I have used my knife for 19 years and slaughtered nearly 1,000 oxen, and it is still as sharp as a new one.
However, when I come across a complicated structure, I would be cautious and conscientious and dare not be the least negligent. I cut swiftly but lightly with great concentration and care.
After hearing this, King Hui of Liang said:
”What you said is wonderful!From you I have learned the way of cultivating my mind and developing my character.”
Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao during the Warring States Period.
A young man in the State of Yan heard that the State of Zhao was more powerful than the State of Yan, so he was much interested in the State of Zhao. Consequently, he crossed over mountain
after mountain by himself and got to Handan.
Upon arrival at Handan, he felt that the State of Zhao was indeed more stable than the State of Yan. Even the way of walking of the people of the State of Zhao looked better than that of the
people of the State of Yan. He made up his mind to learn how the people of the State of Zhao walked in Handan, so that in the future the people of the State of Yan could walk as gracefully as
Yet, that was easier said than done. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to learn the gait of the people of the State of Zhao. On the contrary, he even forgot completely how he walked
in the State of Yan. In the end, he had no alternative but to crawl back from the State of Zhao to the State of Yan.