Reflection on a Thousand-year-old Fable “The Story of Fu Ban”
(Minghui.org) The fable, “The Story of Fu Ban,” was written over one thousand years ago by Liu Zongyuan, a famous writer and poet in China’s Tang Dynasty.
It tells the story of an insect, Fu Ban, who does nothing but pick up everything it finds along its way, and piles it up on its back. To prevent things from falling off, it has to straighten up its head. The load on its back keeps accumulating, but it never stops collecting things until it collapses. If the load is cleared off its back, it immediately resumes its routine of picking things up. It does this throughout its life, until its death.
Fu Ban resembles many people in our modern society – with strong pursuit for profit and gain. They seek every opportunity to make money and pile up their wealth, not knowing that excessive desire for profit and gain can negatively impact their lives. Their greed drives them to use all tactics, including illegal means, to gain more profit.
Conducting illegal affairs brings these lawbreakers to court, and they stand to lose everything. Nonetheless, they continue their routine once given the opportunity again. Their daily goal is to increase financial gain or to be promoted. Their desire to constantly accumulate financial gain puts them at risk of losing everything and collapsing, like Fu Ban.
Liu Zongyuan wrote this fable to warn the corrupt officials in his era. However, I believe his fable also reflects upon modern society. From the perspective of a cultivator, ordinary people constantly pursue extra loads that they carry on their backs – the more they pursue, the heavier the load becomes; the more they carry, the deeper they sink, until they become completely lost.
Everything begins with human attachments. Like the life of Fu Ban, the better one’s life in the human world, the more fame and sentiment one acquires, the heavier the load.
For cultivators, we should be the opposite – we should let go of our attachments. The less we carry on our backs, the less burdened we are by worldly things and the higher we can elevate.