WHEN Duke Huangong, the ruler of the state of Qi, was reading in the hall, a wheelwright was making a wooden carriage wheel outside the hall. The wheelwright put down his tool and came into the hall. "May I ask what book is Your Majesty reading?" he asked the Duke.
"I'm reading the books of the sages," said Duke Huangong. "Are the sages still living?" the wheelwright asked again. "They died a long time ago," the Duke said. "That means Your Majesty is reading the trash of the ancients," said the wheelwright. Duke Huangong was very angry. He said, "How dare you, an artisan, come here and talk nonsense. Tell me what made you say so, and I may let you go. Otherwise, you'll die for it."
Unhurriedly, the wheelwright answered, "Take my work of making a carriage wheel. I cut the wood with an axe, neither too fast, nor too slow. What the mind thinks what the hands do. When the wheel is finished, it is sturdy and turns smoothly. This skill can only be learned through long years of practice. I can't teach my son the skill by words of the mouth only. Nor can my son learn it without practice. This shows that since the sages were dead, what they left behind in the books are things of the past. What is Your Majesty reading, if not the trash of the ancients?"
The Book of Zhuang Zi