Losing a Bow

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When King Chu lost his treasured bow when he was hunting, his subordinates searched everywhere but failed. He said to them: “You don’t have to look anymore. I have lost a bow, but a citizen of Chu will eventually find it, which means the country has not lost any bows. There is nothing to be pitied.”

Confucius heard of this and commented, “When someone loses their bow, someone else may find it. Is it only restricted to the Chu people?”

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When Lao Tzu heard this, he said, “If you lose your bow, anyone can gain it. Why should a human being be the only one? If a man drops his bow, an ape may pick it up. The ape plays with it and has a good time with it. Even if the ape does not find it, heaven and earth will have it. The bow is in the arms of heaven and earth and returns to nature. It feels warm and safe as if it comes back home. What’s the pity of losing a bow? Why must there be a person to receive it?

Lao Tzu expressed the idea of the unity of man and nature. All things are in heaven and earth, without gain or loss, without favor or disgrace.




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