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Chinese Idioms - 杞人忧天

Posted by vann0000 February 9, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, reason, sky, air, earth, fall, fear, worry, concern

The Man who Worried too Much (杞人忧天 qi ren you tian)

Once upon a time, there was a small kingdom called Qi (now Qi County in Henan Province). In this kingdom lived a man who had very little courage and always worried about everything. He thought about very strange things and everyone thought the man was very odd. He was worried that the sky would fall down and flatten his head like a pancake. He worried that the earth would sink and that he would be buried beneath it. The more he thought, the more frightened he was. During the day, he couldn't eat, and at night, he didn't dare to sleep.

In this way, the man became thinner and thinner and was unwell both in body and mind. A kindhearted man saw this and was worried that the frightened man would ruin his health. The good man went to speak to the cowardly man:

"The sky is all around us, made up of gases in the atmosphere. Every time you move or breathe, you have contact with the sky. Why are you afraid that the sky will fall down?"

The man from Qi half-believed, half-doubted the wise man's words: "If the sky is really just a collection of gases all around us, what about the sun, moon, and stars? Can they fall out of the sky?" The wise man replied, "No, no! The sun, moon, and stars are also made of gases and even if they fell out of the sky, they could not hurt anyone. You can relax."

The man from Qi asked, "But what would happen if the earth fell?" The kindhearted man answered, "The earth is made of solid dirt and rocks. North, south, east, and west, everywhere on the earth is made of dirt and rocks. You can walk, run, and jump everyday. There is much activity on the surface of the earth, but you see you have no reason to worry about it falling."

After the man from Qi heard this, he felt as though a 1,000 kilogram weight had been taken off his mind. His face lit up with a smile. The kindhearted man was also very happy because he had relieved the man from Qi's worries.

The moral of this story is that one should not worry about unnecessary matters or worry about something without a concrete reason. Although the kindhearted man's explanation of the sky, sun, moon, stars, and earth was not scientific (it just shows what the knowledge of science was at that time), his caring deeds and willingness to help others are worth praising.

杞人忧天(qǐ rén yōu tiān)

从前有一个小国家叫杞(今河南省杞县).杞国有一个人,胆子很小,整天胡思乱想(hú sī luàn xiǎng).他想的那些奇怪的问题,让人觉得很可笑.他一会儿担心天会塌(tā)下来,砸扁(zá piān)了脑袋;一会儿又担心地会陷(xiàn)下去,埋(mái)住了全身.他越想越害怕,白天吃不下饭,晚上不敢睡觉.

就这样,他越来越瘦了,弄得自己身心疲惫(pí bèi).有一个热心人看到他那忧愁烦心(yōu chóu fán xīn)的样子,担心他把身体弄坏了,就去劝导他说:

"天只不过是一股积聚(jī jù)的气体,上下左右到处都有.人的一举一动,一呼一吸都要和它接触.你整天在气体里活动,为什么还要担心它会掉下来呢?"


杞国人又问,"那么地陷下去怎么办呢?"热心人说:"地只不过是堆积(duī jī)起来的土块罢了.东西南北到处都有这样的土块.你东走西跑,蹦蹦(bèng bèng)跳跳,成天在地上活动,根本不必担心它会塌陷下去."

杞国人听了,心里好像放下了千斤重担(zhòng dàn),脸上露出了笑容.那个热心人,因为解除了杞国人的忧愁,也十分高兴.

这个成语表示不必要的或缺乏依据(yī jù)的忧虑(yōu lǜ)和担心.虽然那个热心人对天、地和日月星辰的解释是不科学的(只能代表当时的认识水平),但他那种关心别人、帮助别人的做法还是值得称赞(chēngzàn)的.

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