One day, Confucius led his disciples1
to the State of Chu. When crossing a stretch of forest, they saw a hunchbacked old man standing2
under a tree, catching3
cicadas with a bamboo stick. With each stroke he caught one cicada, just as easily as picking it up at will. Confucius asked: "You are very skillful at catching cicadas. You must have followed some pattern."
"That's right!”the old man answered. "The cicada is a clever little insect. It would fly away at the mere4 rustling5
of leaves in the wind. Therefore, to catch cicadas, one must, first of all, train one's hand to hold the bamboo stick without shaking. When 2 pellets are put on the top of the bamboo stick and do not fall off, one has certain assurance in catching cicadas; when 3 pellets are put there and do not fall off, only one cicada out of ten can manage to escape; when 5 pellets are put there and do not fall off, then catching cicadas is as easy as picking them up at will."
He then added: "But that is not enough. One must be good at hiding oneself. Now I am standing under a tree, just like half of a tree stump6
, with my arm stretching out like part of a withered7 twig8
. Last of all, one must be attentive9
. When I am catching cicadas, I don't think at all of the vastness of the universe, nor do I look at the numerous things around. I only see the two wings of the cicada. No matter what happens, nothing will distract my attention. As I manage to accomplish all these, I can be so skillful at catching cicadas."
Hearing this, Confucius turned to his disciples and said: "Whatever you do, only when you persevere10
with concentrated attention and devotion, can you achieve the acme11
of perfection. This is the truth that this hunchbacked old man has taught us."