Shepherd Boy

>> Monday, July 23, 2007

I finally found the passage about the shepherd boy I was thinking about two weeks ago.

From The Te of Piglet, pages 196-7:

"As the following story by Chuang-tse show, the great man respects the child's mind, as well:

Accompanied by six of his wisest men, the Yellow Emperor journeyed to Chu-T'zu Mountain, to speak to the mystic Ta Kuei. In the wilderness of Hsiang Ch'eng, the procession lost its way. After wandering for some time, the men came upon a boy tending horses. "Do you know the way to Chu T'zu Mountain?" they asked him. "I do," the boy replied. "In that case," they said, "would you know where we might find the hidden dwelling of the hermit T Kuei?" "Yes," he answered, "I can tell you." "What a fascinating child!" said the emperor to his companions. "He knows this much...Let me test him." He stepped from his carriage, and called the boy to him.

"Tell me," said the Yellow Emperor. "If you were in charge of the empire, how would you go about ruling it?"

"I know only the tending of horses," the boy replied. "Is ruling the empire any different from that?"

Not satisfied, the emperor questioned him again:

"I realize that governing is hardly your concern. Still, I would like to know if you have ever had any thoughts about it."

The boy did not answer. The emperor asked him once more. The boy replied asking, "Is governing the empire different from tending horses?"

"Explain the tending of horses," said the Yellow Emperor, "and I will tell you."

"When taking care of horses," said the boy, "we make sure that no harm comes to them. In doing so, we put aside anything within ourselves that would injure them. Can ruling a nation differ from that?"

The Yellow Emperor bowed his head twice to the ground. "Heavenly Master!" he exclaimed.

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