Philosophyical Stories of Liezi


                                               Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

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."


                                 Did the Hunter Lose or Dream about losing the Deer?

A woodsman from Zheng saw a deer in the field, shot and killed it. Afraid he would be caught, he hid the deer and covered it with banana leaves. He was pleased with himself. Rightaway he forgot the hiding place, and thought that the whole episode was a dream! On his way home, he kept telling himself that it was only a dream. As he mumbled to himself about his dream, he was overheard by a passerby.


The passerby thought about what he had heard and figured out where the deer was hidden. He found the deer and took it home. He told his roommate, "The woodsman dreamt he killed the deer and forgot where he hid it. I now found the deer; so his dream must be true." 
The roommate said,"Was there really a woodsman? Or did you dream the woodsman? Since you now have the deer, doesn't it mean that your dream is true?"


The man replied,"I now have the deer. It doesn't matter whether his dream or my dream is true."

The woodman went home, and was depressed about his lost deer. That night he had a dream. He dreamt about the passerby who had heard of him talking to himself and then found the hidden deer. Next morning, following his dream, he found the passerby and the deer. So he took him to the Magistrate and sued for the recovery of the deer.

The Magistrate said,"First the woodman killed the deer, but thought it was a dream. Then he dreamt that he killed the deer and believed it was real. He found the passerby with a real deer,so he sues for the deer. The roommate said that the passerby got the deer from another man's dream; so the deer belongs to no one. The deer is here and is real. Let it be divided equally between the two men."

The case was appealed to King Zheng, who jokingly remarked,"Jeez, next thing I will be told that the Magistrate had dreamt about dividing the deer." and sent the case to his Chief Adviser for an opinion.

The Adviser reported,"Sir, whether this case is about dreams or reality I cannot tell. Only (really wise men like) Huang Di or Confucius can differentiate dreams and realities. Since they are both dead, I recommend that we leave the Magistrate's decision be."


                                                                      Lost Axe

A man who lost his axe suspected his neighbour's son of stealing it. To him, as he observed the boy, the way the lad walked, the expression on his face, the manner of his speech - in fact everything about his appearance and behaviour betrayed that he had stolen the axe.

Not long afterwards the man found his axe while digging in his cellar. When he saw his neighbour's son again, nothing about the boy's behaviour nor appearance seemed to suggest that he had stolen the axe.


                                                          Man Who Loves Sea Gulls

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.


                                                      Old man Moves a Mountain

Taihang and Wangwu are two mountains with an area of seven hundred li square and rise to a great height of thousands of ren. They were originally situated south of Jizhou and north of Heyang.

North of the mountains lived an old man called Yugong (literally 'foolish old man') who was nearly ninety years old. Since his home faced the two mountains, he was troubled by the fact that they blocked the way of the inhabitants who had to take a roundabout route whenever they went out. He gathered his family together to discuss the matter.

"Let us do everything in our power to flatten these forbidding mountains so that there is a direct route to the south of Yuzhou reaching the southern bank of the Han River. What do you say?" Everyone applauded his suggestion.

His wife voiced her doubts. "You are not strong enough even to remove a small hillock like Kuifu. How can you tackle TaTxmg and Wangwu? And where would you dump the earth and rocks?"

"We can dump it into the edge of the Bo Sea and north of Yintu," said everyone.

Therefore Yugong took with him three sons and grandsons who could carry a load on their shoulders. They broke up rocks and dug up mounds of earth which were transported to the edge of the Bo Sea in baskets. His neighbour, a widow by the name of Jingcheng, had a posthumous son who was just at the age of discarding his silk teeth. This vivacious boy jumped at the chance of giving them a hand. From winter through summer the workers only returned home once.

An old man called Zhisou (literally 'wise old man') who lived in Hequ, near a bend of the Yellow River, was amused and dissuaded Yugong.

"How can you be so foolish? With your advanced years and the little strength that you have left, you cannot even destroy a blade of grass on the mountain, not to speak of its earth and stone."

Yugong from north of the mountains heaved a long sigh. "You are so obstinate that you do not use your reason. Even the widow and her little son do better than you. Though I die, my son lives on. My son produces a grandson and in turn the grandson has a so?of his own. Sons follow sons and grandsons follow sons. My sons and grandsons go on and on without end but the mountains will not grow in size. Then why worry about not being able to flatten them?" Zhisou of Hequ was bereft of speech.

The god of the mountains who held a snake in his hand heard about this and was afraid that Yugong would not stop digging at the mountains. He reported the matter to the king of the gods who was moved by Yugong's sincerity. The king commanded the two sons of Kua'eshi, a god with great strength, to carry away the two mountains on their backs: one was put east of Shuozhou and the other south of Yongzhou. From that time onwards no mountain stood between the south of Jizhou and the southern bank of the Han River.


                                                          The Sky is Falling


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

Hearing this, the man is very happy. The friend is very happy.