Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Stonemason' Wish--A Taoism Story

Once there was a stonemason carving away at a block of stone, sweating away in the sun. As his day went on, he became hotter and hotter and began to lose his temper as he swung his hammer against the chisel.

He looked up impatiently at the sun and thought, if only I could be the sun instead of sweating it out down here.
Before he could complete the thought, however, something miraculous happened and he did indeed become the sun, shining up on high in the blue sky. It felt great for a little while until some clouds came along and obscured his view of the earth below.  

Clouds have it all, he thought, they can take away the power of the sun.

Before he knew it, he became a cloud that separated the sun from the earth and he felt the moisture of the water droplets and a delightful floating feeling. But then came a strong wind and it blew him clear across the sky and there was nothing he could do about it.

Being a cloud isn’t all it's cracked up to be, he thought, if only I could be the wind.
Naturally, he then became the wind, blowing clouds across the sky, creating ripples on lakes and bending tree branches backwards with his gusting power.

But then he came upon a large stone block that he couldn’t even make tremble, no matter how hard he blew. This rock is superior to me in strength, he realised and at once became the stone block.

He felt the wind pushing against him in vain and felt content that no one could push him around any more. Yet even as he enjoyed the feeling of strength and stability that came with being a stone block, he had a rude awakening as the hammer of a stonemason came thumping down on him. He lost a fragment of stone and thought, if only I could be that stonemason, he’s got all the power…

Background and Comment:

It's a common theme in Eastern tales that comparisons are odious and bring us nothing but dissatisfaction. With everything being relative, there’s no such thing as better or worse. Chuang Tzu comments that an old gnarled branch is better than a straight tree because it will never be cut down and made into a table. The value of being useless.

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