Chinese idiom 'Pao Ding Jie Niu' from Zhuang Zi 庄子
What and where is your 'durable knife' in your life? - like the knife of Cook Ding
Professor Roel Sterckx of Cambridge has introduced Cook Ding's durable knife in his book "Chinese Thought - From Confucius to Cook Ding". The book is published by London Penguin Books Ltd in 2019, and is now translated into Dutch. Mark Leenhouts wrote a book review on it, published today in #Volkskrant.
Professor Roel Sterckx talks about the most important thinkers and traditions of China and how they have shaped China today. He discusses what makes a person good; how can we create order in society; what strategies can we use to outsmart our enemies and competitors etc. He advocates people to learn more about Chinese thinking.
Mark Leenhouts indicates in his book review that two famous Sinologists Roel Sterckx and Jan De Meyer describe convincingly the "conflicting" Chinese philosophies of life. You might have heard this kind of statements that, every statement about China has its counterpart that is equally true. It might be that, when people talk about the happening taken place in different time, different places and contexts, with different group of people, and moreover, conclusions must be drawn! Then, various conclusions based on the specific situation were made. When those conclusions are put together, they may look conflicting. I think Chinese people are very good at change management. The Confucianism, holistic thinking, the awareness of a person's various roles in different relationship, and the community society, all play an important role.
A Chinese idiom Páo Dīng Jiě Niú 庖丁解牛 is used in the book. Cook Ding even appears in the title of the original English book. The story goes: Cook Ding was invited to dismember an ox for King Liang. He told the King that, after many years practice, he could just use his mind to dismember an ox and not necessarily use his eyes. A normal cook needs to change the knife once a month in order to dismember ox because they chop the bones, an advanced cook changes the knife once a year. How about Cook Ding, his knife has already been used for 19 years, it still works perfect.
It’s a matter of concentration! Hope we all could possess and sharpen our own 'durable knife' of our life.