|Naming a Cat|
Once there was a man named Qi Yan who
had a cat, and believing it to be rare, named it
One of his guests said, "Brave as a tiger is, it
is not so vigorous as a dragon. Why not name it
Another one suggested, "No doubt a dragon
is more vigorous than a lion, yet a dragon needs
the aid of floating clouds to soar up into the sky. Aren't clouds more noble than a dragon? You'd better call it Cloud Cat."
A third reasoned, "It's true that clouds can
cover the sky, but they scatter the moment the
wind appears. Wind is more powerful than
clouds, so name your cat Wind Cat."
A fourth argued, "However strong the wind
is, it is blocked wherever there is a wall, Wall Cat would be much better."
A fifth made his suggestion: "As solid as a
wall is, a mouse can make a hole in it. A wall
will no longer be strong if there are holes. How
can a wall be a match for a mouse? My advice
is to call it Mouse Cat."
An old man in the village overheard the men
arguing and laughed. "Ah! It's a cat that
catches mice. A cat is a cat. Why bother naming
it after something else and making it lose its
Dongfang Shuo, A Witty Man
While entertaining himself in Shanglin Garden, Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty pointed at a tree and asked Dongfang Shuo, "What is that called?"
"It's called Goodness." replied Dongfang Shuo carelessly. Wu Di had it written down.
Several years later, playing in the garden again,
Wu Di saw the tree and turned to Dongfang Shuo
to ask its name. "it's named Jusuo (Overlooking all)." said Dongfang Shuo again carelessly.
Wu Di's expression changed, "You have been
cheating me over the years. How can the same
tree have different names?"
Dongfang Shuo defended himself with fervour
and assurance "A horse is called horse only when
it grows up; it is a foal when young; chicken is
the name for a chick when it becomes older; and
a cow is called a calf when born. So it is with
human beings: They are called infants when born
and old men when aged. The tree was Goodness
several years ago and is now Overlooking-All.
All the objects in the universe change. Don't
you think that is the truth?"
Satisfied with Dongfang Shuo's reply, Wu Di
There was a rich man who was deliberately
hard on his farmhand. He gave him a bottle and
said, "Buy me a bottle of wine."
The farmhand asked, "How can I buy you
wine with no money at all?"
The rich man said, "Anyone can buy wine with
money. It takes real skill to buy wine without
After a while the farmhand returned with the
empty bottle. He handed the bottle to the rich
man and said, "Enjoy the wine, please."
Staring at the empty bottle, the rich man
asked, "There is no wine, how can I enjoy this?"
The farmhand said, "Anyone can enjoy wine
if there is some. It takes real skill to enjoy wine When there is none."
Choking, the rich man was unable to utter
Three Sentences Spoil a Banquet
A rich man invited four friends to a banquet
to celebrate his birthday. It was already noon-time, but only Zhang, Wang and Li had come;
his friend Zhao did not appear, even though they
waited a long time.
The rich man said anxiously, "Why isn't the
one who should have come here?"
His friend Zhang, an impetuous person, was
very much upset at his words and said to the rich
man, "If the one who should have come isn't present, then I am the one who should not have come. All right, good-bye." And with this, he went away in a huff.
The rich man then said, even more anxiously,
"The one who should not have left has left."
These words aroused Wang's suspicion, so
he said, "You said the one who should not have
left has left. Does that imply that I am the one
who should have left? All right, I have to say
The remaining friend, Li, advised the rich man
goodheartedly, "You should learn what to say
and what not to say; otherwise, you will annoy
your guests and send them away without your
The rich man, hearing this, said, "Those two
are too suspicious and misunderstood my words.
I didn't mean them."
Now it was Li's turn to flare up. "So it is
I who should not have come; it is also I who should have left." And with this, away he went.
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