After Dushu’s failure at being accepted into the temple he felt so ashamed at having failed to achieve his ambition that he decided never to go home again. So he went into a great forest and built himself a small cottage. There he stayed for five long years, and in those years nature would teach him many things. He learned patience, humility, tranquility, and the way of the mantis.
It happened on day when he was taking a long walk through the forest. He grew tired and decided to sit and rest near a large bush. As he sat there he noticed a praying mantis on one of the branches of the bush. The mantis was slowly and purposefully stalking its prey. Dushu grew more interested and got closer to better observe the ways of the strange creature. Dushu was fascinated by the graceful yet lethal movements of the mantis as he captured his prey.
Suddenly a small bird lighted upon the same branch as the mantis. Dushu was a little saddened as he thought his new found fascination was about to be eaten. But to Dushu’s surprise, the mantis stood his ground and began even stranger movements than Dushu had yet seen. The mantis’s two long, powerful arms slowly rotated around the front of its body. Then the bird, which was four times the size of the mantis, tried to catch the mantis in its beak, but the smaller mantis thrust up on his rear legs and pushed the bird’s beak to the side. Then the bird spread its wings and jumped at the mantis with its talons but the mantis jumped to the next branch. The bird followed but the mantis jumped again.
Each time the bird would jump at the mantis the mantis would get away at the last instant. Then the mantis jumped on the back of the birds head. The bird began to flutter its wings and hopped around madly, but the mantis held on with one of its powerful arms and began to saw frantically at the back of the bird’s neck with the other. And soon the bird began to bleed from the wound. Then the mantis jumped away and the bird followed, but the bird was so tired and hurt that when he tried to spear the mantis with his beak, he was easily fended off by the mantis’s large and powerful front legs. Finally, the bird, too tired and weak to fight any longer, flew away.
Dushu sat there fascinated and dumbfounded. He reached up to the branch that the mantis was on and captured him. Then he took him back to his small cottage and studied the mantis and its movements. Five years passed and Dushu learned much. By imitating the quick and powerful movements of the mantis, he had created his art.
To Be Continued…