Ci­cada in Chi­nese Lit­er­a­ture

That's China - - That's China 城市漫步 -

The wolf has a win­ning game when the shep­herds quar­rel. The man­tis stalk­ing the ci­cada, un­aware of the ori­ole be­hind.

The lit­er­ary root of the Chi­nese proverb “螳螂捕蝉,黄雀在后” (lit.‘The man­tis stalk­ing the ci­cada, un­aware of the ori­ole be­hind’) is Zhuangzi, an an­cient Chi­nese text from the late War­ring States pe­riod (476–221 BC) which con­tains sto­ries and anec­dotes that ex­em­plify the care­free na­ture of the ideal Daoist sage. The proverb is still widely used by to­day’s Chi­nese peo­ple to warn oth­ers of the haz­ard of reck­less­ness and greed. Like the many philo­soph­i­cal pieces of all of the 33 sur­viv­ing Zhuangzi chap­ters con­tain­ing fa­bles and al­le­gories, the story about a man­tis stalk­ing a ci­cada also man­i­fests the au­thor’s re­sent­ment of greed and his be­lief that the key to true hap­pi­ness is to free one­self from the world and its stan­dards through the prin­ci­ple of "in­ac­tion" (wúwéi 无为 ) - ac­tion that is not based on any pur­pose­ful striv­ing or mo­tives for gain.

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