Sui sat on the swing underneath the big tree feeling depressed. Looking up at the sky, she let the swing sway by itself. The blue sky, seen through layers of branches, twigs, and green leaves of all shades, seemed covered up by a net and appeared scattered and broken. A wood pecker flew from tree to tree, pecking on one after another to diagnose their sicknesses. "Da, Da, Da, Da,..." The bird was really annoying. When the wind blew, all the leaves started to blab, making soughing sounds which made Sui feel even more restless and disquieted. She grumpily flipped open the book that was lying on her knees. Turning her face downwards, she flipped pages randomly. All of a sudden, she straightened up and stopped the swaying motion of the swing as her eyes focused on a parable in the book. Isn't that story an exact portrayal of her and Xiu?
The story was about Bei Gong Zi and Xi Men Zi. These two men were about the same age, came from similar family backgrounds, and had looked about the same. However, even though they did exactly the same things and said exactly the same words, people praised only Xi Men Zi and regarded him highly. Thus, Xi Men Zi became prominent, noble, wealthy, well-liked, and well-regarded, while Bei Gong Zi was poor, disheartened, and liked by few. Even Xi Men Zi gradually came to look down on him. Bei Gong Zi found it hard to remain imperturbed under the circumstances. He asked Xi Men Zi whether this was because Xi Men Zi had more virtue than he, Bei Gong Zi. Xi Men Zi not only affirmed it frankly, but also ridiculed him. Just like this morning when Xiu said to her, "Why don't you take stock of yourself? What nerve you have to compare yourself to me! Aren't you being shameless?" Those words were like arrows which immediately shattered her armor of self-esteem to pieces. She wanted to cry, but couldn't find any tears; she wanted to laugh, but to smile looked worse than crying. Being identical twins, she and Xiu looked almost the same; however, their characters were very different, and their
flower, dazzling and lustrous, adored by everyone; while she herself was but a tiny, ordinary ear of grain. Although, in order to restrain Xiu's arrogance, Mother often quoted Confucius' words, "How can it only blossom without bearing fruit?" to warn Xiu, yet, in any case, a flower is always more dazzling than a tiny ear of grain. Xiu was long lost in vanity. Thus she did not have much patience for her humble and reserved sister.
Sui's gaze wandered to the broken sky and then back to the book again, Helplessly, she turned another page. Oh? She sat up, continuing to read with concentrated interest. When the dejected Bei Gong Zi met up with Mr. Dong Guo, he told him about the ridicule he received from Xi Men Zi. Mr. Dong Guo went to find Xi Men Zi and scolded him, "Your prominence is not a result of your intelligence, and Bei Gong Zi's poverty is not due to his stupidity. It's all fate. You have become arrogant just because you have a good fate; that shows a lack of virtue. Bei Gong Zi is sufficient in virtue; nevertheless, he feels shame and remorse for his ill fate. Neither of you understand the principle of natural fate." Xi Men Zi was speechless upon hearing those words. As for Bei Gong Zi, he seemed to have been woken up from a dream of confusion. After he went home, he was able to live peacefully and happily despite his poverty. He no longer cared about gain or loss, nor discriminated between self and others. Nor did he notice whether glory or insult fell upon himself or others. Upon hearing this news, Mr. Dong Guo could not help but praise Bei Gong Zi as a person who had quickly awakened from a confused dream.
Sui excitedly opened her eyes wide, "That's it! Why should I always live under the shadow of Xiu? She relies on her good luck and never cultivates virtue. Good luck does not last forever. It is just like flowers; they wither in no time. That's not being smart. Though I am not so lucky, as long as I can have peace of mind and be gentle in my temperament in both principle and practice, I will be at ease and happy. What do the praise or ridicule that others show me have to do with me? If I am lost in the appearances of things, give rise to discrimination, and become confused about principles, am I not just looking for trouble for myself? It is said, ‘The wise never get confused.’ If my mind is free of impediments, then I will not be confined by the states I encounter; if my mind is unmoving, I will not be affected by the swaying motion of the outside world! She relaxed. Rocking the swing slightly, she looked straight up through the net of branches and leaves at the broken blue sky, gazing far into the distance. The sky beyond the cluster of trees was a great expanse of blue. A pair of matching couplets emerged in her mind:
Having a response means penetration:
in the waters of a thousand rivers are a thousand moons;
No heavenly secret is not revealed: for ten thousand miles,
there are no clouds, just ten thousand miles of sky.