Tao story that sets your mind thinking – Keeping to the Center is like keeping a flock of sheep

tao story - taoinyou.com


A man who is a Tao disciple meets the king.  He relates to his majesty what he has learned from his master.

“My master told me that nourishing life is like keeping a flock of sheep,” says the Tao disciple.  “You lash the straggles, and the rest will move along.”

“What does it mean,” asks the king.

“There was a man in the country of Lu named Shan Bao, who lived among cliffs and drank only water of highlands.  He was not in competition with anyone and always a happy man.  These explain why when he was in his 70s, his skin still gleamed with the complexion of an infant,” says the Tao disciple.  “Unfortunately, he met a hungry tiger and was killed and eaten up.”

“Then there was a man named Zhang Yi. He befriended everybody – the wealthy and the poor – and traveled far and wide. Unfortunately, in his forties he developed internal fever, fell ill, and died,” the man continues.

“Shan Bao nourished what was on the inside and the tiger ate up his outside.  Zhang Yi took care of his outside and the sickness attacked him from his inside.  Both these man failed to give a lash to the straggles,” concludes the man, with wisdom from his master.

Can you also learn something from the story?

This is one way to interpret it:  Hold to the center of your life, and watch out for the strays straggles.  Lash the strays or straggles, so that they will not run away or stay too far back and disintegrate the flock.  When the whole flock moves as one — you are in no danger, the rest of your life will fall into place.


*The story is adapted from Chuangzi‘s The Full Meaning of Life

Thank you Micolo J for the picture.

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