"Where do you like best to feed your flocks?" said a man to an old cow-herd.
"Here, sir, where the grass is neither too rich nor too poor, or else it is no use." "Why not?" asked the man.
"Do you hear that melancholy cry from the meadow there?" answered the shepherd, "that is the bittern; he was once a shepherd, and so was the hoopoe also,--I will tell you the story.
The bittern pastured his flocks on rich green meadows where flowers grew in abundance, so his cows became wild and unmanageable.
The hoopoe drove his cattle on to high barren hills, where the wind plays with the sand, and his cows became thin, and got no strength.
When it was evening, and the shepherds wanted to drive their cows homewards, the bittern could not get his together again; they were too high-spirited, and ran away from him.
He called, "Come, cows, come," but it was of no use; they took no notice of his calling.
The hoopoe, however, could not even get his cows up on their legs, so faint and weak had they become.
"Up, up, up," screamed he, but it was in vain, they remained lying on the sand.
That is the way when one has no moderation.
And to this day, though they have no flocks now to watch, the bittern cries, "Come, cows, come," and the hoopoe, "Up, up, up."
One day, Confucius led his disciples to the State of Chu. When crossing a stretch of forest, they saw a hunchbacked old man standing under a tree, catching cicadas with a bamboo stick. With each stroke he caught one cicada, just as easily as picking xiaogushi8.com it up at will. Confucius asked.
“You are very skillful at catching cicadas. You must have followed some pattern.”
“That’s right!” the old man answered.
“The cicada is a clever little insect. It would fly away at the mere xiaogushi8.com rustling of leaves in the wind. Therefore, to catch cicadas, one must, first of all, train one’s hand to hold the bamboo stick without shaking. When 2 pellets are put on the top of the bamboo stick and do not fall off, one has certain assurance in catching cicadas; when 3 pellets are put there and do not fall off, only one cicada out of ten can manage to escape; when 5 pellets are put there and do not fall off, t
hen catching cicadas is as easy as picking them up at will.”
He then added:
“But that is not enough. One must be good at hiding oneself. Now I am xiaogushi8.com standing under a tree, just like half of a tree stump, with my arm stretching out like part of a withered twig. Last of all, one must be attentive. When I am catching cicadas, I don’t think at all of the vastness of the universe, nor do I look at the numerous things around. I only see the two wings of the cicada. No matter what happens, nothing will distract my attention. As I xiaogushi8.com manage to accomplish all these, I can be so skillful at catching cicadas.”
Hearing this, Confucius turned to his disciples and said:
“Whatever you do, only when you persevere with concentrated attention and devotion, can you achieve the acme of perfection. This is the truth that this hunchbacked old man has taught us.”