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The following little story is a joke, in which the astute manipulation of cultural values allows one person to out-manipulate another. Understanding the joke depends upon three principles:
The following extremely brief text illustrates all of these points, as a son cleverly silences his mother's annoying chanting.
As elsewhere on this site, the simplified Chinese text is red and the traditional characters are blue.
|Stopping Mother’s Chanting||
Zhǐ Mǔ Niàn Fó
|1. Zhái Yǒnglíng’s mother became a fervent Buddhist.||
Zhái mǔ guī xīn Shì shì.
|2. She chanted sutras all day without stopping.||
Rì sòng fó, bùchuò shēng.
|3. Zhái Yǒnglíng pretended to call her.||
Yǒnglíng yáng hū zhī.
|4. His mother would answer.||
Mǔ yìng nuò.
|5. Then he would call again, without stopping.||
Yòu hū bùyǐ.
|6. His mother became angry and said:||
Mǔ yùn yuē:
|7. “You have nothing to say; why do you keep calling?”||
“Wúyǒu, hé pín hū yě?”
|8. Zhái Yǒnglíng replied: “I have called you three or four times and you’re unhappy.||
Yǒnglíng yuē: “Wú hū mǔ sān-sì, mǔ biàn bùyuè.
|9. But the Buddha gets called by you thousands of times a day.||
Bǐ Fózhě rì wéi mǔ hū qiān-wàn shēng.
|10. What must his annoyance be like?”||
Qí nù dāng hérú?”
|11. And this way his mother realized her mistake.||
Mǔ wéi shào wù.
Míng Dynasty Source:|
—Proprietor of the Studio of Fine Cups
— Fúbái Zhāi Zhǔrén "Yǎ Nuè"
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