Posts filed under ‘.China’
There was a frog that lived in a small, deep well. He knew nothing but the world he lived in. His well and the sky he could see above it were his entire universe.
One day he met a frog who lived in the world above. ‘Why don’t you come down and play with me? It’s fun down here,’ the frog in the deep well asked.
‘What’s down there?’ the frog above asked.
‘We have everything down here. You name it. The streams, the undercurrent, the stars, the occasional moon, and we even get flying objects coming down from the sky sometimes,’ the frog in the well answered.
The frog on the land sighed. ‘My friend, you live in a confined world. You haven’t seen what’s out here in the bigger world.’ The frog below was very annoyed. ‘Don’t you tell me that you have a bigger world than ours! My world is big. We see and experience everything the world has to offer,’ the well frog said.
‘No, my friend. You can only see the world above you through the size of the well. The world up here is enormous. I wish I could show you how big it is,’ the frog above replied.
The frog in the well was angry now. ‘I don’t believe you! You are telling me lies! I’m going to ask my dad.’ He told his dad about his conversation with the frog ont eh land. ‘My son,’ he said with a saddened heart, ‘your friend is right. I heard there is a much bigger world up there, with many more stars than we can see from here.’
‘Why didn’t you tell me about it earlier?’ the little frog asked.
‘What’s the use? Your destiny is down here in the well. There is no way you can get out of here,’ the father frog replied.
The little frog said, ‘I can, I can get out of here. Let me show you!’ He jumped and hopped, but the well was too deep and the land was too far above.
‘No use, my son. I’ve tried all my life and so did your forefathers. Forget the world above. Be satisfied with what you have, or it will cause you such misery in life.’
‘I want to get out, I want to see the big world above!’ the little frog cried determinedly.
‘No, my son. Accept fate. Learn to live with what is given,’ his dad replied.
So the poor little frog spent his life trying to escape the dark, cold well. But he couldn’t. The big world above remained only a dream.
“Dad, are we in a well?” I asked.
He thought for a while. “Depends on how you look at it. If you look at where we are from heaven above, yes, we’re in a well. If you look at us from below, we’re not in a well. Will you call where we are heaven? No, definitely not,” he replied.
Chang E was a beautiful young girl working in the Jade Emperor’s palace in heaven, where immortals, good people and fairies lived. One day, she accidentally broke a precious porcelain jar. Angered, the Jade Emperor banished her to live on earth, where ordinary people lived. She could return to the Heaven, if she contributed a valuable service on earth.
Chang E was transformed into a member of a poor farming family. When she was 18, a young hunter named Hou Yi from another village spotted her, now a beautiful young woman. They became friends.
One day, a strange phenomenon occurred — 10 suns arose in the sky instead one one, blazing the earth. Hou Yi, an expert archer, stepped forward to try to save the earth. He successfully shot down nine of the suns, becoming an instant hero. He eventually became king and married Chang E.
But Hou Yi grew to become a despot. He sought immortality by ordering an elixir be created to prolong his life. The elixir in the form of a single pill was almost ready when Chang E came upon it. She either accidentally or purposely swallowed the pill. This angered King Hou Yi, who went after his wife. Trying to flee, she jumped out the window of a chamber at the top of palace — and, instead of falling, she floated into the sky toward the moon.
King Hou Yi tried to shoot her down with arrows, but without success. Once on the moon, Chang E became a three-legged toad, as punishment from the Queen Mother, according to one version of the legend. Her companion, a rabbit, is constantly pounding the elixir of immortality in a large mortar.
The moon is also inhabited by a wood cutter who tries to cut down the cassia tree, giver of life. But as fast as he cuts into the tree, it heals itself, and he never makes any progress. The Chinese use this image of the cassia tree to explain mortal life on earth — the limbs are constantly being cut away by death, but new buds continually appear.
Meanwhile, King Hou Yi ascended to the sun and built a palace. So Chang E and Hou Yi came to represent the yin and yang, the moon and the sun.
Christine Amber Tang, 2002, 7 min 3 s