20 SEC READING: How to level out the world

Once when Confucius was traveling with his disciples, he heard about a very intelligent boy who was living in a particular village.

Confucius went to speak with him and asked him jokingly:

‘How would you like to help me correct all the irregularities and inequalities in the world?’

‘But why?’ asked the boy.
‘If we flattened the mountains, the birds would have no shelter. If we filled up the deep rivers and the sea, the fish would die. The world is vast enough to cope with differences.’

The disciples left feeling greatly impressed by the boy’s wisdom. But Confucius said:

‘I’ve known many children who, instead of playing and doing the things appropriate to their age, were busy trying to understand the world.

‘ Not one of those precocious children did anything of any great significance later in life because they had never experienced the innocence and healthy irresponsibility of childhood.’


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  1. gellie says:

    ‘ Not one of those precocious children did anything of any great significance later in life because they had never experienced the innocence and healthy irresponsibility of childhood.’

    …. and I’m one of those children who hadn’t experienced the innocence and healthy irresponsibility of childhood. Nevertheless, I’m praying I won’t be one of those who don’t do any great significance later in their life..

  2. Andriy says:

    After I read the paragraph, I’m actually not sure how I would feel. If I would be happy knowing that the child knows a lot of things in this world despite his tender age, or if I would be sad knowing that he lost his innocence in a way that he knows difficult things just like how he managed to answer Confucius in an adult’s point of view.

  3. Clarize says:

    Is it just me or was Confucius saddened because the boy had wisdom? And it was the boy he meant when he spoke of precocious children too busy understanding the world?

  4. petu says:

    when i was studying in design school we had this course where we were taken to a village and were asked to study it and make sketches of the world around us(no photography was allowed)
    i was one day sketching a basket-maker’s house beside the banks of a river and suddenly three small children; a girl and two boys came right over in front of my view and were looking at what i was doing. I tried persuading them to stand on the side but they could not understand i guess and so just stood there looking at me amusingly. so i hit upon an idea; i took out drawing sheets and pencils and invited them to sketch along with me. the process involved me making a sketch of something and gesturing them to do the same on their sheets. my first sketch was of a fish- the usual side view. the girl who was older than the two boys reacted first. she drew the fish from the top view and i realized that this was the way she would see fishes in the river- from the top view
    such an obvious thing but it fascinated me

  5. Tents says:

    The boy is very wise to be able to know this kind of stuff. He is even wiser compared to other adult people nowadays.

  6. aisya says:

    somehow this story makes me sad, in the sense that I feel there’s nothing good enough in this world. i feel for the child….

  7. Rabbits says:

    When I read this I was really amazed how the child was able to see past things. The child has good wisdom, he is indeed right that when the mountains have flatten the birds will have no shelter. But despite the child’s innocence his eyes was open to the world surrounding him.

  8. Thanks for this. It was a gentle reminder that it’s great to be intrigued by the world’s greatness but enjoy your own greatness because you only on this planet in this form once!

  9. cliverd says:

    Thanks Karen
    I love this so simple child-like innocent and insightful…

  10. Sheela Nandini says:

    I believe I am having more fun in my life now than I did in my childhood,for various reasons.Although looking back,it wasn’t too bad either.My sis and I were discussing this period in our lives sometime last month and between us, thanked our parents for the good times and the lifestyle we had-wasn’t luxurious but so much to be grateful for.About being generous with ourselves,and with others around.

    That fun aspect comes in the guise of 4 year old Moonface(what would I do without him next door?)and now another new friend-a 9 yr old-who I discovered on 4th July has a pet-parrot called Ramu!!!

    Moonface demands attention no matter what I am doing-whether it’s about returning the cricket ball that falls on our side of the wall or when he just has something to share and in his version of English(LOVE it)-and he’ll yell out lustily-sheela auuntttyyyyyyy !I drop everything and run to him<3<3<3

    Thank You,God,for the children in my life!


    1. CG says:

      Dear Sheela,
      this is a very heartwarming little story from your life and I love it.
      It shows that children are little lights in our life (sometimes even great :)). We have to take care of them!

      Be blessed, Sweetie,