Daily Archives: June 11, 2013

Confusing Name With Reality

From Lieh-Tzu, A Taoist Guide to Practical Living, (Eva Wong, Shambhala Publications Inc, 1995)

A man from the eastern provinces was traveling along a seldom-used road when he fainted. A robber happened to be passing by and noticed the man fallen by the wayside. Seeing that the traveler was still alive, the robber started to revive the man by offering him food and water.  After three mouthfuls, the man opened his eyes.  Seeing a gruff and fierce-looking man bent over him, he said, ‘who are you?’

The robber said, ‘I am Ch’iu of the region of Hu-fu.’

Startled, the traveler said, ‘You’re not that infamous robber who’s wanted everywhere are you?’

‘I am he.’

‘Then why did you give me food?  Did you help me because you associate me with your kind?  I am a man of virtue and will not eat anything that comes from a criminal.’

The traveler then tried to throw up the food the robber had given him.  Eventually he choked on his vomit and died.

Even if Ch’iu was a criminal, his intent and action in this situation was not criminal.  Although he might have committed unforgivable crimes, there was nothing criminal about the food and water.  Self-righteous people often follow a principle blindly without understanding it and in doing so confuse what is name and what is reality.