The Tao of Odds and Ends

Excerpt: The Minister of the Waves  

© Barry Kavanagh 2003

Butterfly    Tao

The original story attributed to Zhuangzi:

Chuang Tzu's [Zhuangzi's] family were poor so he went to borrow some rice from the Marquis of Chien Ho. The Marquis of Chien Ho said, 'Of course. I am about to receive the tax from the people and will give you three hundred pieces of gold - is that enough?'

Chuang Tzu flushed with anger and said, 'On my way here yesterday I heard a voice calling me. I looked around and saw a large fish in the carriage rut. I said, "Fish! What are you doing there?" He said, "I am Minister of the Waves in the Eastern Ocean. Sire, do you have a measure of water you could give me?" Well, I told him, "I am going south to visit the Kings of Wu and Yueh and after that I would redirect the course of the Western River so it will flow up to you. Would that do?" The large fish flushed with anger and said, "I am out of my very element, I have nowhere to go. Give me just a little water and I can survive. But giving me such an answer as that means you will only ever find me again on a dried fish stall!"'

The Book of Chuang Tzu chapter 26, Martin Palmer translation (Penguin Arkana), p.237.


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