To wake a sleeping wolf

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Long long ago, a county magistrate named Wang Lu worked in present day Anhui province, East China. Wang Lu was very greedy and took many bribes. One of his secretaries was equally corrupt, and often schemed for Wang Lu's deeds.

One day a man went to the magistrate to lodge a complaint against the secretary. The secretary's crimes were almost the same as the crimes the magistrate himself committed. Wang Lu was so frightened, he forgot his proper role in handling the case. Instead of issuing a judgment, he couldn't help writing these words concerning the complaint: "By beating the grass, you have startled me who am like a snake under the grass!"

Exhausting one's creative vein

Friday, May 10, 2013

During the period of Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), there was a man of letters named Jiang Yan, whose father died young. Little Jiang Yan was strenuous and diligent, capable of writing beautiful poems and essays at his early age. He, who was thought highly of by those men of letters of that time, was called Mr. Jiang.

The Iron Stove

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In the days when wishing was still of some use, a King's son was bewitched by an old witch, and shut up in an iron stove in a forest. There he passed many years, and no one could deliver him. Then a King's daughter came into the forest, who had lost herself, and could not find her father's kingdom again. After she had wandered about for nine days, she at length came to the iron stove. Then a voice came forth from it, and asked her, "Whence comest thou, and whither goest, thou?" She answered, "I have lost my father's kingdom, and cannot get home again." Then a voice inside the iron stove said, "I will help thee to get home again, and that indeed most swiftly, if thou wilt promise to do what I desire of thee. I am the son of a far greater King than thy father, and I will marry thee."


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Once upon a time, there was a man endowed with a respectable appearance and intelligence as well as wealth. All these evoked feelings of admiration and praise from the people around him. Another man then claimed this man to be his elder brother. He did so, because of the man's wealth. When he needed money, he called the man elder brother. After the rich man paying his debt, he stopped calling him elder brother. A bystander asked, "You are a strange man. When you are in need of money, you call him elder brother. When he is in debt, you will not. Why?"

The man answered, "When I want to get at his money, I'll call him elder brother. As a matter of fact, he isn't my own elder brother. When he is in debt, I will not call him elder brother."


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Once upon a time there was a man who brought up seven boys, one of whom died. Finding the son dead, he intended to leave the body in the house and moved out himself. A bystander said to him, "You know the living and the dead go separate ways. Since your son is dead, he should be quickly buried in a far away place with all due solemnity. Now why do you want to leave your house and let your dead son remain here?"

When the man heard this, he decided to bury his son and not let the corpse lie at home. He then thought he would have to kill another son to hang one body on each end of the pole to keep in equilibrium and carry them for burial in a long way off the forest. That seemed the only thing possible for him to do and he did it. His contemporaries laughed aloud at his unprecedented eccentricities.

Constant grinding can turn an iron rod into a needle

Monday, April 29, 2013

So long as you have put a great deal of effort, you can grind an iron rod into a needle-perseverance spells success.

This legend is about Li Bai, a great poet in Tang Dynasty. Li Bai was naughty and disliked study when he was a child. One day he saw an old woman grinding an iron rod on a big stone when he was playing by a river. Driven by curiosity, Li Bai came up and asked,

"What are you doing, granny?"

Repeated Orders

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), the famous strategist Sun Wu known as Sun Zi came to see the King of the State of Wu, bringing along his great work The Art of War. He offered to help turn the State of Wu into a more powerful kingdom by training a strong army for it.

The king was not quite convinced and asked, "Can you try your method out on a small army?"

"Yes", Sun Wu answered.

"Can you try them out on some women?"

"Why not?"

The Fawn and His Mother

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A YOUNG FAWN once said to his Mother, "You are larger than a dog, and swifter, and more used to running, and you have your horns as a defense; why, then, O Mother! do the hounds frighten you so?"
She smiled, and said:
"I know full well, my son, that all you say is true.
I have the advantages you mention, but when I hear even the bark of a single dog I feel ready to faint, and fly away as fast as I can."

The Farmer and the Snake

Friday, April 26, 2013

ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold.
He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom.
The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound.
"Oh," cried the Farmer with his last breath, "I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel."

The Farmer and the Stork

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed.
With them he trapped a Stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the Farmer to spare his life.
"Pray save me, Master," he said, "and let me go free this once.
My broken limb should excite your pity.
Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother.