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Emperor Yao's First Visit with Shun

A short story on balancing loving-kindness with wisdom.

In ancient China, Emperor Yao was looking for a successor to his throne. He heard rumors of a person named Shun, who had great moral character and served his parents with utmost filial piety despite receiving terrible treat from them.

Yao decided to dress up as a common citizen and go visit Shun's residence. When he arrived, he saw a young man tilling the soil with the aid of a black cow and a brown cow. The two cows were in the front dragging a tilling tool, while Shun held the tool at the back. 

(The tool looks somewhat like big tool in the picture. Two cows are be tied to the tool at the front. When the cows walked forward, they dragged the tool, which would then till the soil.)

But Yao noticed something strange about Shun's method. Usually, farmers would whip the cows to make them walk. However, Shun put his large sun hat on the tool and whipped the hat. So Yao asked Shun,

"Young man, why are you whipping that hat?"

Shun replied,

"When I whip the hat, it makes a loud sound. The brown cow thinks the black cow is getting hit, and the black cow thinks the brown cow is getting hit. That motivates both of them to keep working hard."


Sometimes, we lack loving-kindness, which creates conflict. Other times, we want to help others, but we don't know how, and our lack of wisdom results in problems. Shun shows a great example of balancing loving-kindness with wisdom.


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