Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Dexterous Chef by Zhuangzi - A Lesson In FTW-U!
A cook was butchering an ox for Duke Wan Hui.
Every place his hand touched,
Every heave his shoulder made,
Every move his feet did,
Every thrust his knee applied pressure to,
Every slice he made in the flesh, came apart with a sound.
With his blade he followed the lead, making a noise
That never fell out of rhythm.
It harmonized with the Mulberry Woods Dance,
Like music from ancient times.
Duke Wan Hui exclaimed: "Ah! Truly Admirable!
How is it that your skill has advanced to this elevated level?"
The cook puts down the knife and answered:
"All your humble servant follows is The Way,
something beyond the advance of any undertaking;
and if I happen to find it in my craft, then so be it.
"When I first started butchering,
All I saw was nothing but the entire carcass.
After three years,
I ceased to see it as a whole.
"Nowadays, I meet it with my mind
Rather than see it with my eyes.
My sensory organs are inactive
While I direct the mind's movement.
"I Observe the natural contours,
Striking apart large gaps,
Moving through great cavities,
Following and taking advantage of its natural structure.
"Moving according to form,
I avoid the places where the tendons attach to bones
So that they give no resistance,
Even less than a great bone!
"A good cook goes through a knife in a year,
Because he cuts.
An average cook goes through a knife in a month,
Because he hacks.
"I have used this knife for nineteen years.
It has butchered thousands of oxen,
But the blade is still like it's newly sharpened.
"The joints have openings,
And the knife's blade has no thickness.
I apply this lack of thickness into the openings,
And the moving blade swishes through,
With room to spare!
"That's why after nineteen years,
The blade is still like it's newly sharpened.
"Nevertheless, every time I come across complicated joints,
I seize up its difficulty,
I pay attention and use caution,
My vision concentrates,
My movement slows down.
"With increasing subtly, I move the blade ever so slightly and-Flop!
It has already separated.
The ox doesn't even know it's dead,
and falls to the ground like a clod of earth.
"Then I stand up with the knife in hand,
And I look all around it.
I leisurely assess my work until it gives me much satisfaction.
I give the blade a thorough cleaning and then carefully put it away."
Duke Wan Hui said: "That is most excellent!
I have listened to the words of a cook
And learned the principle of how to nourish life."
-Lovingly Compiled by The Cuddliest Curmudgeon, Kutecy Kooper McKunt