Archive for the ‘China’ Category

The essay ‘Horse’s Hoofs’ by Chuangtse(c.335-c.275) is given in part here below.

Horses have hoofs to carry them over frost and snow and hair to protect them from wind and cold. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their tails and gallop. Such is the real nature of horses. Ceremonial halls and big dwellings are of no use to them.
One day Polo(Sun Yang 658-619 BC-a legendary horse trainer) appeared, saying,’I am good at managing horses.” So he burned their hair and clipped them, and pared their hoofs and branded them. He put halters around their necks and shackles around their legs and numbered them according to their stables. The result was that two or three in every ten died. Then he kept them hungry trotting them and galloping them, and taught them to run in formations, with the misery of the tasseled bridle in front and the fear of the knotted whip behind, until more than half of them died.
The potter says,’ I am good at managing clay. If I want it round,I use compasses;if rectangular a square.” The carpenter says,” I am good at managing wood. If I want it curved,I use an arc; if straight, a line”. But on what grounds can we think that nature of clay and wood desires this application of compasses and square, and arc and line? Nevertheless every age extols Polo for his skill in training horses, and potters and carpenters for their skill with clay and wood. Those who govern the affairs of the empire make the same mistake.
I think one who knows how to manage the empire should not do so. For the people have certain natural instincts-to weave and clothe themselves, to till the fields, and feed themselves. This is their common character, in which all share. Such instincts may be called ‘heaven- born’. So in the days of perfect nature, men were quiet in their movements and serene in their looks…. For in the days of perfect nature, man lived together with birds and beasts , and there was no distinction ..who could know of the distinction..? Being all equally without knowledge, their virtue would not go astray. Being all equally without desires, they were in a state of natural integrity. In this state of natural integrity, the people did not lose their (original) nature…’
This essay becomes all the more relevant when we consider the Human Rights abuses record of the Chinese regime. When man has lost his integrity he needs controls. And who applies controls but those who are as clueless as the governed? This is a vicious circle into which abuse of power is added because of the fear and certainly is a direct result of power wrongly applied. Fear of the rulers is that their ignorance may be seen through so they apply the whip all the more harshly. At least these ignoramuses know those who are smarting from the whiplashes cannot think straight or see as they might in a calm and settled mind would. The sage of recent memory albeit a fool, who spoke of perpetual revolution merely rephrased the fear of every megalomaniac that he will be found out

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In the New Testament there is a parable of the Wedding Banquet(Matt22.1-14). The wedding banquet for the king’s son was open to all. But one guest despite of being provided with the wedding clothes could not be counted among those who assembled or partake the joy offered. When I think of China’s achievements I see how apt this parable is. China has emerged from bamboo curtain for what? China has great pretensions to play on the world stage. In order to be counted a major player it is ready to sacrifice everything in terms of people,morality and many qualities that make the joy of being humans. The authoritaian regime wants opposition silenced and dissidents jailed. China may stand in the international forum and preen like a peacock. Little does the silly bird know that he is devoid of all human values and looks naked, like the wedding guest who must be thrown out from the general merriment.
Liu Xiaobo is serving a 11 year jail sentence and his wife is put under house arrest for what? They protested at the human abuses perpetrated by the Powers that be. The best in China are put away to rot in jail and only what is freely circulated are their shoddy goods, tainted milk and cough syrups that kill the innocents at home and abroad.


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To the Pavilion of the Jade Emperor came all the emperors who had carried out the Will of heaven on the earth. The Emperor of the Sun and the Moon sat in his throne and as the shadows of great assemblage watched the Emperor sat shivering as though stricken with a chill.
The emperor who built the great Wall of China extolled the emperor but seeing him helpless and in discomfort stopped short and laid himself in prostration. He said,’What avails me with all my achievements if I could not provide you with warmth?
So said all those emperors who had lorded over the Empire and shed tears. At last the Emperor with great struggle found words,’ Oh my messengers on Earth you heaped greatness on yourselves since people were none the better for it.’
Then he beckoned the shade of Kaotse, the scholar who taught that human nature was neither good nor bad. The scholar explained to the multitude of the rulers that they were to guide the human nature by example into virtuous state and not destroy human lives by bad actions. ‘When the Emperors Yu and Li were in power the people loved violence and when Wu and Wen ruled the people loved virtue.’ Now look at the way the Will of Heaven is expressed.’

The Jade Emperor shivered and in piteous tone showed the symbol of his Authority and Majesty, the Dragon of Ten Thousand Moons,’ and cried,’See how cold is his breath? he cannot provide me with warmth.’
At that a messenger came up and approached the throne to say,’ People’s Republic of China has instituted a Prize in order to prove Nobel Prize was issued by a bunch of clowns. The Jade Emperor brightened up somewhat and asked ‘What Prize are they giving?’
‘Confucius Prize,’ a mandarin murmured.
The Jade Emperor asked,’ Say who won the prize?’
The mandarin looked sheepish and said,’Whoever won it didn’t show up.’
The Jade Emperor felt a chill coming and said,’ Their Peace Prize must be written by blood of people and their Prize for understanding and Co-operation must be thought up by jackboots studded with iron spikes.
He excused himself and took to bed.

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The Man Who Sold Ghosts

When Sung Tingpo of Nanyang was a young man, he was walking one night and he came across a ghost. He asked him who he was and he said he was a ghost.
The ghost in turn asked who he was. Tingpo lied that he was also a ghost. The ghost asked him where he was going and he said,’I am going to Wanshih town.”
“Ah I am also going there.” said the ghost and he said ‘Come we shall go together.’ They went along for a while. After covering a mile the ghost said it was stupid of them to both walk when they could carry one another in turn. The ghost carried Tingpo for a mile and he put him down with a racking cough. ‘You are too heavy for a ghost.’ complained the ghost. Tingpo excused himself he was a new ghost so he was bound to weigh heavier. Tingpo offered to carry him next which he could do with ease since he was a ghost. Thus they walked each carrying the other in turn and Tingpo asked what made him most afraid of. The ghost answered,’Human saliva.’ Thus chatting away they went on till they reached a stream. Tingpo let the ghost go ahead and observed he made no noise at all. While he waded across the stream splashing. The ghost asked why he was making all that noise. Tingpo explained that he was a new ghost and he couldn’t quite manage a stream as he could.
They walked on as before carrying each other in turn. In the end they came at the outskirts of a town. The ghost turned himself into a goat. Tingpo spat on the goat and it could not change back into a ghost. Tingpo found a piece of rope to tie the goat. He sold it for fifteen hundred cash and went home.
Since then there is a saying by Shih Ts’ung ‘Tingpo sold a ghost for fifteen hundred cash’.
(From Soushenchi, Fourth Century)

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Wit of Yen Ying

Yen Ying who lived in the six century B.C was a scholar and a wit. He was a very short man. He was once sent by the ruler of Tsi as a diplomat to the kingdom of Chu. The king took one look at him and was displeased. In order to humiliate him he asked,”Are there no better persons in your country to send than you?”
“Of course there are,” answered the diplomat still keeping his poise,” why there are so many able men in our country that when they spread out their long sleeves they can hide the sun and when they perspire, it looks like rainfall.”
“Then why you?”
Yen Ying explained,” My government sends out diplomats to different countries according to the nature of the country to which they will be attached-the clever ones to clever rulers and stupid ones to stupid rulers. I am about the most stupid in my country.That is why I am sent to you.”
Later during the banquet two thieves were brought before the king. When found out that they were the diplomat’s country men from Tsi, the king turned to Yen Ying and asked ‘Why are there so many thieves in your country?”
Yen Ying replied,” Your Majesty, have you seen the little oranges that are grown north of the Huai River? They are from the same seed as the big oranges south of the Huai. It is the climate. People who are born and live in our country do not steal. But when they come to your country, I don’t know why, they go about stealing. It must be the climate of Chu, I suppose. ”
(Book of Yentse)

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Tsekung, a disciple asked Confucius,”Do the dead have consciousness?”
“Why don’t you wait till you are dead? Then you are bound to know.”
Confucius told the following story: Once I was walking in the mountains and saw a woman weeping by a grave that was fresh. I asked her what was her grief, and she dried her tears and replied,” We are a family of hunters. My father was eaten by a tiger. My husband was bitten by a tiger and died. And now my son.”
“Why don’t you move away from this place then?”
“No,” replied the woman.
“Why not?”
And the woman replied,”Because there are no tax-gatherers here.” (Family tradition of Confucius.)
Chiwentse said to Confucius,”I always think thrice before I act.”
Confucius replied,”To think twice is enough.”
Confucius said,”If a man does not say to himself, ‘What shall I do? What shall I do?’ Indeed I do not know what shall I do with such a person.”
Confucius said,”If a man discovers his mistake and does not correct it he is committing his second mistake.” (The Analects)
Tailpiece(being half of the wit of Confucius):
Mao Tse Tung on spotting Confucius went to him and introduced himself. ” Greetings. I am Chairman Mao. I have heard so much about you. Aren’t you pleased?”
The shade of Confucius politely, “I haven’t heard anything about you. Ahem, Am I not pleased?”

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China has indeed made a Great Leap Forward. Chairman Mao coined the slogan and what really happened was something else. Let us focus on very bright aspects of the China’s market socialism and a visitor looks at the stunning skylines of China’s redeveloped coastal cities and state capitals and he is impressed. He may not exactly remember he is on a guided tour. He is not allowed to traipse the length and breadth of China on a whim. A visitor sees, and the official who is in charge may write in his report he saw only what he was allowed to see or spoke to who are allowed to speak. There are restrictions now as then.

Notwithstanding let us not forget that the Chinese leaders make an impressive walk as they strut on the world stage. They need US as much as America need them. There is a new reality that ideological differences are as close as two sides of a coin. You spin for tail or head what you get spells ‘free enterprise.’ It is not frightening one would think George Washington would not tell a lie and he is at par with Mao. George was as noble as Mao the Great Helmsman who subscribed to the idea ‘end justifies the means.’ Each has impressed the nation it represents. Over the years Truth and Expediency have closed ranks over free trade.

China chose market socialism so it can hold its own as a superpower with USA. In one there are things like Free Press and Accountability and the highest of the realm can be impeached and thrown out. On the other it is the sole prerogative of the powers that be. How accountable are they? How free and transparent are their press?

If any one is interested in the environment safety record in China there are may articles relating to it. Reading them one is left with no doubt spirit of Chinese Communism is alive and well in the present leaders. Only it uses an euphemism: market socialism.


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