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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related_15-計販駿馬;16-塞翁失馬》_ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Proverb Related

(15) An Expert Sells Best

         A herdsman once took a horse to a country market for sale. The whole morning no one came to look at his horse. He was disappointed.

He thought of a way in the afternoon. He paid a special visit to the famous expert for superior horses, Bo Le (伯樂), and begged him for help.

“Please come to look at my horse and me just briefly tomorrow morning. I will reward you handsomely.” He pleaded and promised.

It was a bright sunny day the next morning.

Bo Le came as he had agreed. He patted the horse by the neck and nodded at the herdsman before going to other parts in the market.

In an instant, people crowded in to inquire about the horse and the price.

         The horse was sold after a few biddings. The yielding price was far higher that what the herdsman had expected.
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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in the book 戰國策 (Strategy of the Warring States). The original title 計販駿馬 explained the art of marketing, an ancient wisdom more than 2000 years ago.
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Proverb Related

(16) Disaster and Blessing

Long ago, a man lived with his father near the border of northern China where a horse was of great value.

One day, the family horse ran away for no reason. Both father and son grieved for days over their misfortune. An elder in the village consoled them, saying: “May be this is a blessing.”

A month later, the horse returned, bringing a fine nomad stallion. The man and his father were overjoyed. The elder saw the new arrival and commented: “May be this means an impending disaster. One can never tell.”

Surely, the man loved the stallion so much that he galloped with it often. The beast ran extremely fast and threw its master to the ground, breaking his hip and injuring his spine. He was devastated. The elder learned about it and came over to console father and son. He said: “Who is sure that this isn’t a blessing?”

Some months later, war broke out between China and the Nomads. Men of all ages went to war to defend the motherland. The fighting continued for nearly three years. In the end, China lost nine of every ten men in the frontier region.

The man and his aging father survived, taking care of each other. He was not conscripted to fight because he was a cripple. The elder saw them often after the war. He used to say: “Changes evolve in life, taking turns. When a man looses his horse, who can be sure it is not a blessing? When he gains a fine stallion by chance, it can just be a disaster.”

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Note: This is an English narration of a passage in the book 列子》. It teaches us to accept reality as it comes, taking a moderate stand. This philosophy is ingrained in the DNA of the Chinese people, shown in their ability to adapt to any environment. The first requirement of adaptation is not to repel or be frightened by what is new, but to accept it as ground for wise response. The original story precipitates a well known proverb: 塞翁失馬,焉知非福. It used to be taught in the language lessons in elementary schools.

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