Chinese Idioms - 高山流水
Understanding and Appreciative Friends (高山流水 gao shan liu shui)
Understanding and Appreciative Friends
During the Spring and Autumn Period(770-476B.C.).there was a man whose name was Yu Boya. Yu boya famous music master at that time, having a good command of the temperament and superb skills in playing the musical instrument. He was bright and eager to learn when he was young. He had formally acknowledged several experts as his teachers,and his skills in playing the musical instrument had already reached a fairly high level. But he still felt that he could not superbly express the various things which had deeply impressed him. Knowing what was in his mind, his teacher took him to the penglai Island, a fabled abode of immortals, on the East China Sea by boat. On the island,his teacher let him enjoy the natural scenarios and listen to the roaring of the great waves. looking into the distance, Boya saw that the waves were turbulent and that the white breakers leapt skywards. Sea birds were circling in the air, and their crying was very pleasant to the ear. Trees were green and intriguing feeling welled up in his mind, as if he had heard the harmonious and charming music of nature. He couldn't help taking his musical instrument and playing it . He followed his inclinations while he was playing,and incorporated the beautiful nature with his music,thus reaching a realm of thought he had never experienced before. Seeing this,the teacher said to him,''You have mastered the art of playing."
Once,on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, he was boating for sight-seeing. The moon was bright and a cool breeze was blowing gently. With myriads of thoughts welling up in his mind, he began to play the musical instrument. The melodious music became more and more beautiful when a man on the bank shouted "bravo!" Hearing the shouting, Boya came out of the boat,and saw a woodcutter standing on the bank. He knew that this man was keenly appreciative of his talents, because he understood his music. He immediately invited the woodcutter to his boat and , full of zest, he played the musical instrument for him. When Boya played a piece of music eulogizing the high mountains,the woodcutter said,"wonderful!The melody is as magnificent and dignified as Mount Tai which reaches to the sky!" When he played a piece of music depicting the turbulent waves,the woodcutter said,"Wonderful!The melody is as vast and mighty as the great rivers!"Boya was excited,and said,"Bosom friend! You are really my bosom friend!" That woodcutter was Zhong Ziqi. Since then,they had been very good friends.
This story appears in The Works of Lie Zi.From this story,people have derived the set phrase "high mountain and running water" to refer to understanding and appreciative friends. This set phrase is also used to refer to melodious music.
gao1 shan1 liu2 shui3
高 山 流 水
New lesson idea? Please contact us.