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  Ancient Chinese Fables

His Spear against His shield

In the State of Chu, there was a man who shouted loudly to praise his spear and shield which he was offering for sale. "My shield is so strong that nothing can go through it. And my spear is so strong that it can go through anything" he sang loudly. A man walked by and asked: "What would happen if you use your spear to pierce your shield?" He could not answer the question.
An impenetrable shield cannot coexist with a spear that can go through everything.

( Hanfeizi )

The Vigil of the Tree Stump

During the Song Dynasty, there was a farmer who had a field where a tree stump stood in the middle. One day, a hare running across the field, hit the stump, broke his neck and died. The farmer then abandoned farming and decided to wait by the tree stump for another hare. He ended up without any more hare but became the laughing stock of the country.

( Hanfeizi )

A Tiger behind the Fox

A tiger caught a fox one day and was about to eat him. The fox said: "You cannot dare to eat me. Do you know I am sent by god to rule over the animal kingdom? If you eat me, you will be going against god's mandate. Do you think I'm lying? Come and walk behind me. You'll see all the animal will flee when they see me."
The tiger followed the fox's plan walking behind the fox. All the animals fled when they saw them coming. The tiger believed that the animals were really afraid of the fox. He did not realize that he himself was the reason why the animals ran away.

Zhanguo ce (Strategies of the Warring States)

Blessing or Curse

There was a man who practiced Taoism and lived near China's northern border. One day, his horse escaped and ran to the territory of the northern tribes for no particular reason. Everyone commiserated with the man.
His father said: "Perhaps this will soon turn out to be a blessing."
A few months later, the horse came back, bringing a fine horse from the north with him. Everyone congratulated the man. His father said: "Perhaps this will turn out to be a cause of misfortune."
The son gradually became well-off and owned many horses. He was fond of riding. One day, he fell off a horse and broke his leg. Everyone felt sorry for him.
His father said: "Perhaps this will soon turn out to be a blessing."
One year later, war happened between their country and the northern tribes. All young men were sent to the battlefield. Nine among ten of them died. The son did not join the army because he was crippled and so both father and the son survived the war.

Zhanguo ce (Strategies of the Warring States)

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