“The Peasant and the Hare” or “To Wait on Chance and Not Show Initiative”

Long ago during the Song Dynasty, a peasant was laboring in the fields. A large tree stump sat to the side of his field. One day, a hare darted across the field and accidentally ran into the tree stump, snapping its neck and dying almost instantly. The peasant was delighted that he had obtained a hare by mere chance. From then on, the peasant set aside his farming tools and began to spend all his time guarding the stump, hoping for another hare to crash into it. Yet in the end he didn’t get any more hares. Instead, his behavior became a fodder for jokes, soon to spread across the whole of the Song kingdom.

Original English translation by Patrick Nowlin, Copyright 2013.