Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Seagulls--Hai Shang Ou Niao

The Chinese of The The Seagulls--Hai Shang Ou Niao is 海上鸥鸟, and Pin Yin hǎi shàng ōu niǎo. This idiom is also known as The Seagulls Do Not Come Down-Ou Niao Bu Xia (鸥鸟不下, ōu niǎo bù xià).
Once upon a time, there dwelt a boy by the sea who loved seagulls, and the birds loved him too. Every morning at daybreak hundreds of seagulls, landing on his boat or even on his arms and head, played with him, when the boy went fishing on the sea. Both of them enjoyed this time so much that they were unwilling to be apart until the sun was high in the sky.
The boy's father, learning about this, said to his son: " I heard you have many seagull friends who play with you every day. Why not take some back and let your old man play with them as well? " The boy nodded his head happily.
The next morning at first light the boy went to the sea and anxiously awaited his bird friends, but the seagulls who already felt he was different just swooped about in the skies, none coming down to him.

Background and Writer Comment:

This fable story is from Huang Di, a article of Lie Zi. There are two morals in this short story of Taoism:
  • To repel bad thoughts. We can be harmony with any body and creature, if we have a clean heart. But once some wicked idea comes into our head, we may try, but unable to, hide it from others, and they will leave us accordingly.
  • To let Nature take its course. Taoists believe that Nature is the best ruler who can lead everything into its optimal state, thus they argue that the less we interrupt, the better things go. In this story, the boy who tried to force the seagulls to be friends of his father's just lost his friends' trust. To let Nature take its course is a basic idea of Taoism, and nowadays it still can be found in many modern theories of various subjects, such as Environmental Protection and Classic Economics which believes that free markets can regulate themselves despite that sometimes they may fail to do so.
Now this phrase "the seagulls" is used to describe someone who has already been aware of the coming danger and thus stays alert.

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