The Duke and a Wheelwright by Zhuangzi

Once there was a duke 

sitting under his canopy 

reading philosophy.

Nearby, there happened to be 

a wheelwright making a wheel.

The wheelwright put down his tools

and walked over to the duke. 

The wheelwright said,
“Sir, may I ask what you’re reading?”

“Philosophers and professors,” said the duke.

“Living or dead?” asked the wheelwright.

“Long, long dead,” replied the duke.

“Well, then, sir,” said the wheelwright,
“you’re reading only the dust they left behind.”

“What would you know about it?” said the duke.
“You’re a wheelwright. Don’t be impertinent!”

“Look at it from my point of view,”

said the wheelwright. “I make a wheel.

If I don’t try, it falls apart. If I try too hard,

it’s too tight. When I just relax and do it,

the wheel comes out just fine.

It’s not something I can describe.

I can’t even explain it to my son.

You just have to feel it.

All those old, wise philosophers,

they took what they really knew

with them to the grave. 

All they left behind is dust.”

 

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