A despondent prince stumbled into Tchouang Tseu’s hut early one morning, complaining of an inexplicable anguish he felt in his chest. The old man rummaged through his toolbox and brought out a large pair of rusty pincers, saying, lie down on the floor and i will rip this crooked emotion straight out of your heart! The prince was so startled, he forgot his troubles and dashed back into the street.
A few months later the prince’s mother died, and the despair which overtook him grew so great he again resorted to the unsettling philosopher. Upon hearing him out, Tchouang Tseu opened a cupboard and brought out a dusty vial, saying, drink this potion and you will forget you ever had a mother. No! cried the young man as he once more sprung for the door, i love my mother!
Later that year Tchouang Tseu heard this same prince had been passed over for a high position at court, so he set out to visit his acquaintance and offer condolences. On being shown into his chambers, the philosopher was shocked to see his host beaming with joy. Noticing his guest’s puzzled look, the prince laughed: My dear friend, this time i used my own knife and extracted my disappointment on the spot!