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Taoism is about how we perceive the world around us and what we can learn from what we see. It is not a religion nor a belief system.
This story/verse is from the The Way of Chuang Tzu (translated/interpreted by Thomas Merton). These verses were designed to stimulate insights, considerations and encourage further contemplation.
The meaning will deepen as your capacity to understand grows:
of Wu took a boat
to Monkey Mountain.
As soon as the monkeys saw him
they all fled in panic and hid in the treetops.
One monkey, however, remained, completely unconcerned,
swinging from branch to branch -
an extraordinary display.
The prince shot an arrow at the monkey,
but the monkey dexterously
caught the arrow in midflight.
At this the prince ordered his attendants
to make a concerted attack.
In an instant the monkey was shot
full of arrows and fell dead.
Then the prince turned to his companion Yen Pu’i,
“You see what happened?
This animal advertised his cleverness.
He trusted his own skill.
He thought no one could touch him.
Do not rely on distinction and talent
when you deal with men!”
When they returned home,
Yen Pu’i became a disciple of a sage
to get rid of everything that made him outstanding.
He renounced every pleasure.
He learned to hide every distinction.
Soon no one in the kingdom
knew what to make of him.
Thus they held him in awe.
apologies duke fighting flight monkey ruler seabird tree win
18 March 1997
Last updated 15 May 2020