Sometime later, a high-ranking official went out on a tour of inspection, carried in a sedan-chair by his men. He was carried everywhere, surrounded by a great concourse of shouting and yelling retainers, beating drums and gongs. Wherever they went the people bowed and made was for them. His path lay by the mason's door. Puffed up with an upstart's pride, the mason refused to bow himself or kowtow. "I've got just as many servants as he! Why should I bow to him?" he said. Outraged by such impertinence, the official had him bound with ropes, beaten, and fined.
Painfully getting up, the mason said, with a sigh, "So, high-ranking officials are certainly more powerful than I!" Thereupon he swore he wanted only to be a great official.
Again the fairy heard his desire and made him a great official. He was beside himself with joy when the change took place. Following the example of the official he had seen, the mason now rode roughshod over his district, and made all the people hate him.
One day he and his henchmen came to a hillside where they saw a group of pretty young girls. Down they pounced like tigers on helpless lambs. The girls screamed and called, and in the twinkling of an eye, a great crowd of Chuang people rushed up from all sides, bearing swords, axes, and hoes, and did not let him go without giving him a sound thrashing.
Such rough handling from the people put an end to his evil-doing. "Officials, however powerful, are nothing to the Chuang people," he said ruefully, and he longed to be changed back into a Chuang. Once again the fairy heard his desire and helped to bring about the change. The mason was all smiles when it came about.
Every day he went to the hillside with his people, ploughing and sowing from morning to night. It was summer, and the sun was as hot as a ball of fire. It scorched his back while he worked, until his head swam. It was indeed past human bearing. In the great waves of heat even the birds and wild beasts hid themselves deep in the mountains, and the water-buffaloes buried themselves up to the neck in muddy water. Only the glistering green rice shoots stood, like the Chuang people, unyielding. The mason came to the conclusion that the sun must be the ruling power in the universe and started to dream of becoming a sun himself. The fairy heard his desire and made him a sun in the sky. To everybody's horror he kept sending forth scorching flames.
Then it so happened a thick black cloud came drifting from the west and his the sun from the earth. "Well," sighed the mason. "Who would have thought that a black cloud is stronger than the sun?" So a black cloud was what he wanted to be now. Again the fairy satisfied him by turning him into a cloud freely scudding across the sky.
What should happen but that a fierce wind arose and blew the cloud to pieces! "I never knew that the wind was so powerful," the mason exclaimed in dismay. "I can hardly find a place to exist in! Let me become a fierce wind, I pray!" Again the fairy helped, and made him into a gale. He blew like a typhoon, uprooting trees and tearing down houses. He blew like a terror.
But as he rushed over the land he was suddenly stopped in his course by a huge rock. However hard he blew, the rock was unmoved. "Well, even a gale can do nothing to a rock," thought the mason. "No one could ever dare bully me any more if I were a rock."
Immediately the fairy turned him into a great rock on top of a high mountain. He no longer had any fear of being bullied. After some time, however, there came a group of masons to the peak where he lay. They looked at the rock and considered it useful material, and started cutting it. The bewildered mason, terrified, turned to the fairy for help. "You'd better be your old self," said the fairy. So he was a mason again.
From then on he worked with a devotion he never knew before, and he became ever faster and better at his trade. More and more people wanted to hire his skill. As time went on, he became very well known, and as a great mason, was held in high respect by everybody in his homeland.
Folk Tales from China, second series (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1958), pp. 89-92. No copyright notice.
Stone Proverbs and Quotes
Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. ~ Dale Carnegie (American lecturer, author, 1888-1955)
Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road ~ Voltaire (French Philosopher and Writer, 1694-1778)
Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O sea! And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (English poet, 1809-1892)
All loves should be simply stepping stones to the love of God. ~ Plato (Ancient Greek Philosopher, 428 BC-348 BC)
March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path. ~ Kahlil Gibran (Lebanese born American philosophical Essayist, Novelist and Poet. 1883-1931)
We say nothing essential about the cathedral when we speak of its stones. We say nothing essential about Man when we seek to define him by the qualities of men. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French Pilot, Writer and Author of 'The Little Prince', 1900-1944)
Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. ~ Henri Poincar
We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them. ~ William Arthur Ward (American dedicated scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher)
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now. ~ Henry David Thoreau (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862)
When you see the value of continued growth, the circumstances around you become stepping stones. ~ Clyde M. Narrimore
It is only the tree loaded with fruit that the people throw stones at. ~ French Proverb
Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love. ~ Ben Okri (Nigerian author who uses magic realism to convey the social and political chaos in his country)
Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral. ~ John Burroughs (American Essayist and Naturalist, 1837-1921)
Commonly, people believe that defeat is characterized by a general bustle and a feverish rush. Bustle and rush are the signs of victory, not of defeat. Victory is a thing of action. It is a house in the act of being built. Every participant in victory sweats and puffs, carrying the stones for the building of the house. But defeat is a thing of weariness, of incoherence, of boredom. And above all of futility. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French Pilot, Writer and Author of 'The Little Prince')
Failures to heroic minds are the stepping stones to success. ~ Thomas C. Haliburton (Canadian Writer, 1796-1865)
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. ~ Chinese Proverb
Life's up and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals - Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want. ~ Marsha Sinetar
Some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond reading the words on the page, they don't understand that the words are merely stepping stones placed across a fast-flowing river, and the reason they're there is so that we can reach the farther shore, it's the other side that matters. ~ Sparky Jose Saramango (Portuguese novelist and man of letters, 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, b.1992)
Clay. It's rain, dead leaves, dust, all my dead ancestors. Stones that have been ground into sand. Mud. The whole cycle of life and death. ~ Martine Vermeulen
He who pelts every barking dog must pick up many stones. ~ Proverb
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~ William Shakespeare
To persecute the unfortunate is like throwing stones on one fallen into a well. ~ Chinese Proverb
Use missteps as stepping stones to deeper understanding and greater achievement. ~ Susan Taylor
Many people cannot refrain from picking up stones of a slightly unusual color or shape and keeping them … without knowing why they do. It is as if the stone held a mystery in it that fascinates them.
Men have collected stones since the beginning of time and have apparently assumed that certain ones were the containers of the spirit of the life-force with all its mystery. ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
The stone symbolized something permanent that can never be lost or dissolved, something eternal that some have compared to the mystical experience of God within one’s own soul.
It symbolizes what is perhaps the simplest and deepest experience, the experience of something eternal that man can have in those moments when he feels immortal and unalterable . ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
We know that even unhewn stones had a highly symbolic meaning for ancient and primitive societies. Rough, natural stones were often believed to be the dwelling places of spirits or gods, and were used in primitive cultures as tombstones, boundary stones, or objects of religious veneration. ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
Very early in history men began trying to express what they felt to be the soul or spirit of a rock by working it into a recognizable form. In many cases, the form was a more or less definite approximation to the human figure – for instance, the ancient menhirs with their crude outlines of faces, or the hermae that developed out of boundary stones in ancient Greece, or the many primitive stone idols with human features. The animation of stone must be explained as the projection of a more or less distinct content of the unconscious into the stone. ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
Medieval alchemists, who searched for the secret of matter in a prescientific way, hoping to find God in it, or at least the working of divine activity, believed that this secret was embodied in their famous “philosopher’s stone”. But some of the alchemists dimly perceived that their much-sought-after stone was a symbol of something that can be found only within the psyche of man…… ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
Scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional ‘unconscious identity’ with natural phenomena…
Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god… No river contains a spirit… no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants and animals, nor does he speak to them thinking they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied. ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. ~ William Shakespeare
Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly, even if they roll a few stones upon it. ~ Albert Schweitzer
As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster. ~ Thomas Guthrie
As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser. ~ Plato
Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail: a fragile shoot between two stones that grows brave toward the sun though warmth and brightness fail, striving and faith the only strength it knows. ~ Frances Rodman
Crystals grew inside rock like arithmetic flowers. They lengthened and spread, added plane to plane in an awed and perfect obedience to an absolute geometry that even stones - maybe only the stones - understood.~ Annie Dillard
Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. ~ Dale Carnegie
Failures to heroic minds are the stepping stones to success. ~ Thomas Chandler Haliburton
For one country is different from another; its earth is different, as are its stones, wines, bread, meat, and everything that grows and thrives in a specific region. ~ Paracelsus
I remember the evacuee children from towns and cities throwing stones at the farm animals. When we explained that if you did that you wouldn't have any milk, meat or eggs, they soon learned to respect the animals. ~ Mary Wesley
I'd rather break stones on the king's highway than hem a handkerchief. ~ Anne Sullivan Macy
If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone. ~ Anne Bronte
In the end, it all comes to choices to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. ~ Amber Frey
Life's up and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want. ~ Marsha Sinetar
Like stones rolling down hills, fair ideas reach their objectives despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them. ~ Jose Marti
March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path. ~ Khalil Gibran
Memories are like stones, time and distance erode them like acid. ~ Ugo Betti
Men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things. ~ Zane Grey
Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral. ~ John Burroughs
Not houses finely roofed or the stones of walls well built, nay nor canals and dockyards make the city, but men able to use their opportunity. ~ Alcaeus
People think that computer science is the art of geniuses but the actual reality is the opposite, just many people doing things that build on each other, like a wall of mini stones. ~ Donald Knuth
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow firm there, firm as weeds among stones. Charlotte Bronte
Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. ~ Henri Poincare
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. ~ William Faulkner
The stones themselves are thick with history, and those cats that dash through the alleyways must surely be the ghosts of the famous dead in feline disguise. ~ Erica Jong
Then Christ shall be clothed with all the beauty of the elect as if with a long tunic variously adorned, in which He shall shine as if covered with all manner of precious stones. ~ Saint Bonaventure Sequoyah
There are plenty of ruined buildings in the world but no ruined stones. ~ Hugh MacDiarmid
There are two kinds of stones, as everyone knows, one of which rolls. ~ Amelia Earhart
Use missteps as stepping stones to deeper understanding and greater achievement. ~ Susan Taylor
We say nothing essential about the cathedral when we speak of its stones. We say nothing essential about Man when we seek to define him by the qualities of men. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
What the eyes perceive in herbs or stones or trees is not yet a remedy; the eyes see only the dross. ~ Paracelsus
Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me. ~ Kublai Khan
With the stones we cast at them, geniuses build new roads with them. ~ Paul Eldridge
Would that I were a dry well, and that the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking. ~ Khalil Gibran
You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. ~ Saint Bernard
Coming in January 15 update, a review of Michael's book, Tales of Power, from Lear Books, UK