Most traditional Chinese fables were created several centuries ago. They have remained valid because they are an ideal formula to transmit values and reflect, from generation to generation, in a very didactic way.
Almost all these Chinese fables speak of the rural world. They refer to peasant life and values such as work, humility and respect. Many of them take as reference point the kings, the wise men and the common men. However, despite the antiquity of these stories, most of them have a teaching that can be applied to today’s world. That is why today we have brought three of those traditional Chinese fables with great morals.
“From the heights of reason, history is like a fable.”
-Théodore Simon Jouffroy-
1. A surprising find
The first of the Chinese fables tells us that there was once a very hardworking man, in a village of peasants. He had fertile land and, nevertheless, was limited by a serious problem: he did not have a well. The water was very far from its territory and this meant great difficulties for him.
Every night I had to walk more than three kilometers to go to the nearest well. He came back late at night, with pots full of water. This allowed him to supply his basic needs and feed the land, but it was too strenuous. His neighbors did not help him.
Fed up with this situation, the man decided to dig a well. It was too hard work for just one person, but I had no choice. He was more than a month in that task and finally he succeeded: now he had a well from which came fabulous water. A curious neighbor asked him about the task and the peasant replied: “I dug a well and in the background I found a man”.
The news spread quickly in every corner. It caused such a commotion that the king of those lands sent for the peasant to explain what had happened.
“My lord,” he said. “Before having the well, my arms were always busy carrying and bringing water. Now, my arms are free to work the earth: I have recovered a man that I am.”
2. The buds that did not grow, one of the Chinese fables
The second of the Chinese fables tells us that there was a small village, in a very remote place on earth. There was a man, somewhat greedy, who lived with his family in relative harmony. He was prosperous in his crops, although he was never satisfied with what he got.
On one occasion, he planted the land with particular care. He wanted to obtain the harvest of a special wheat seed that had been brought from distant lands. They assured that this was a higher quality wheat, with thicker ears and a great flavor. Therefore, man occupied all his lands with this crop and began to make great plans for the future. He would get a lot of profits and, who knows, maybe he could buy more land and live with greater luxuries.
However, the weeks passed and the seeds had barely blossomed. There were a few shoots and, despite the care, they grew very slowly. Seeing this, the man began to despair. I could not stand so much. That’s why he decided to do something. What occurred to him was going to pull the small plants that were being born. He thought that this would help them grow.
The next morning, all the buds woke up dead. The man ignored the fact that it was a special seed and that it needed a longer time to grow. I did not know that everything has its time and that altering the processes of nature only leads to failure.
3. The prince and the pigeons
This was a kingdom inhabited by a very noble and wise prince. The third of the Chinese fables tells that in those lands there was great harmony. Everyone loved their rulers and they always responded with just laws and help to prosper. In that place there was a very particular ritual. Whenever it was the New Year, the peasants gave pigeons to the prince.
Just around that time, a stranger passed by. The foreigner was curious about this strange ritual. He witnessed how people came from all over with pigeons for the prince. He stayed there for a while, because he was intrigued to know what the sovereign was doing with those particular gifts. This is how he witnessed the moment in which the prince gathered all the pigeons in a cage and then released them. Those present applauded and made venii.
However, on that occasion an old man pushed through the crowd and respectfully asked permission to speak. The prince listened attentively. The old man asked him how many pigeons he had managed to gather. The prince pointed out that about 200.
The old man replied: “To bring you these 200 pigeons, the men went hunting and killed about 600. What merit do you have now that you release those who were alive?” The prince understood his mistake and forbade the ritual. The stranger took a great lesson from those lands.