The family discussed the proposal. Their dyeing business had brought them less than 1,000 yen. The offer was more than 10 times their normal business. So they decided to sell the instructions, prescription, and medicine to this traveler. The traveler took the medicine to the northern part of China and told a local king that he had a special method to treat chapped hands for soldiers who fight in the winter. Recognizing that this would give their soldiers an advantage against their enemies, the local king hired him as an army surgeon. He soon became an army general surgeon, thanks to the effectiveness of this medicine. His kingdom continued to win wars against their enemy, thanks to this medicine. Finally, the traveler became a premier of this kingdom.
In contrast to this traveler, the family spent all the money from the sale of this medicine and returned to their old dyeing business. They remained in a dyeing business and never became rich or held high position.
This is a story appears in ancient Chinese philosophy book of Taoism, Zhuangzi. The medicine, powerful enough to raise the traveler to the number two position in a kingdom, was, when treated as just a medicine for a dyeing business, not an effective tool in making the original family successful.
The story is somewhat scary to consider. We may be in the possession of something as powerful as this medicine, but, unlike the traveler, we are not using its effectiveness to the full. Many of us are more like the original family in this story. We do not realize the powerful nature of the thing in our possession and waste its value. I believe that the story teaches us the importance of paying attention to the real nature of things and analyzing how to use them. In addition the story tells us the importance of thinking outside of the box. It is amazing to think that this story was written more than 2000 years ago.
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