One day, Chuang Tzu was fishing in the Pu river with his bamboo pole enjoying the tranquillity. He was approached by two senior officials from the court of the Prince of Chu who presented him with a formal document containing a message. The Prince wished to appoint Chuang Tzu Prime Minister.
Chuang Tzu listened to the message and kept a firm grip on his bamboo pole. With his eyes on the river tumbling by, he said:
“I am told there is a sacred tortoise offered and canonised three thousand years ago, venerated by the prince, wrapped in silk, in a precious shrine on an altar in the temple.”
The officials confirmed this was indeed the case, and Chuang Tzu continued:
“Tell me. Is it better to give up one’s life and leave a sacred shell as an object of veneration in a cloud of incense for three thousand years, or to live as a plain turtle dragging its tail in the mud?”
“For the turtle,” replied the officials, “better to live and drag its tail in the mud!”
“Shove off, then!” said Chuang Tzu. “Leave me here to drag my tail in the mud.”
>A classic Taoist teaching from When the Shoe Fits: Stories of the Taoist mystic Chuang Tzu by Osho