Don’t treat a sea bird as if it’s a king – Story of Chuang Tzu

The Sea Bird - Chuang Tzu “How do you treat others?” Asks the Master to the new class. “Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself,” the disciples shout almost in unison. The Master, nevertheless, did not seem to resonate.  Without commenting on what they say, the Master goes on to tell a story of Zhuangzi. “Once upon a time, there was an extraordinary bird who flew from the sea and landed on the countryside of a small kingdom.  It was large, beautiful and elegant. People simply called it the Sea Bird. The King soon got wind of it and ordered to have it brought to the palace. He was astounded by the beauty of the bird. He liked the bird so much that he decided to give it whatever royal treatments he himself had been bestowed. In addition to the elegant abode in the palace temple; he had his musicians played the best music for its amusement and his chefs prepared royal feasts for its consumption. The Sea Bird, unfortunately, was not at all impressed. On the contrary, it was thoroughly confused. It was frightened by the sound and depressed by its captivity. Despite the King’s best effort, it refused to eat the fine meat and drink the vintage wine. After three days, it died. The King was upset. He honored the Sea Bird with the best music and feasted it with the best food. What he got, however, was a melancholy and unappreciative guest.” “What have you learned from the story of the Sea Bird?” The Master asks the class. The class is in total silence. “The King’s good intention is poisonous to the Sea Bird,” sighs the Master. “He’s so naive, not knowing that the Sea Bird is happy only if it’s allowed to live its own nature.” “So treat others as you would want to be treated yourself,” says the Master. “If you don’t like others to impose their will on you, don’t do this to others.”

2 thoughts on “Don’t treat a sea bird as if it’s a king – Story of Chuang Tzu”

  1. So the lesson is not to treat others “as you want to treated yourself” (which is the Golden Rule;) rather, the lesson may be to “treat others as they wish to treat themselves” (the Platinum Rule.) Platinum is even more challenging than Golden because we often think we know best, but our best may be another’s worst.

Leave a Reply to Amy Dahan Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top