The old peasant’s powers
There was once a chief minister called Hua, who was feared by the whole country. He employed strong and intelligent officials and soldiers, and he encouraged them to bully everyone they encountered. If an official or soldier proved particularly good at instilling fear in people, Hua rewarded him richly.
An old peasant called Kai decided to visit Hua’s mansion. When he arrived, Hua’s officials and soldiers noticed his weather-beaten face and emaciated body, and decided to humiliate him; they called him rude names, and hit him with sticks. Kai showed no anger or fear, and eventually they grew tired of their sport.
Hua came out of his mansion. As a joke he pointed to the roof of his mansion, and said: ‘If anyone can jump off my roof, I shall reward that person with a hundred pieces of gold.’ Kai climbed up onto the roof, and jumped off. He fell slowly through the air like a feather, and landed safely. Hua rewarded him.
Hua then threw a diamond ring into the river, and challenged Kai to fetch it out. Kai dived into the water; and several minutes later he emerged, with the ring in his hand. Hua gave him the ring.
A few days later Hua’s storehouse caught fire. Hua begged Kai to go into the flames, and rescue his fine brocades. Kai walked calmly into the burning storehouse, and one by one took out the brocades.
Taoism and Confucianism