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Plugging One’s Ears While Stealing a Bell

Jul 30, 2010
Cracked Liberty Bell

Cracked Liberty Bell

It’s bad when one deceives others; it’s stupid that one only fooled oneself when he tried to fool others. Lots of occasions in our everyday life, some people try to deceive others or disguise something by telling themselves the thing does not exist. And of cause, it could only fool themselves.

Two thousand years, Lü Buwei told a vivid story about one fooling himself.

Plugging One’s Ears While Stealing a Bell

During the Spring and Autumn period, in the State of Jin, noble clan Zhi Bo destroyed Fan clan. Taking advantage of this occasion, a man went to Fan’s family house and tried to steal something. As soon as the man entered the gate, he saw that there hung a big bell in the courtyard. The bell was cast in high-quality bronze, and was beautiful in design and shape.

Plugging One's Ears While Stealing a Bell

The thief was very glad, and decided to carry this beautiful bell back home. But no matter how hard he tried, he could not move the bell, because the bell was big and heavy. He thought and thought again, and believed there was only one way to solve the problem. He had to break the bell into pieces before he was able to carry them back to his home separately.

The thief found a big iron hammer, with which he struck the bell with all his might. The striking produced an enormous crashing sound, which made the thief terribly frightened that it’s telling people someone was stealing the bell.

The thief got flurried, thinking that it was too bad to have produced the crashing sound. He hugged the bell, trying to muffle the crashing sound with his arms. But how could the sound of the bell be muffled? The sound still kept drifting melodiously to distant places. The more he listened to the sound, the more frightened he became. He subconsciously shrank back, and covered his ears hard with his hands.

“Hey, the sound becomes fainter, inaudible!” the thief became cheerful at once, “Wonderful! The sound of the bell can not be heard when the ears are covered.”

Pluggin Ears While Stealing a Bell

He immediately got some odd bits of cloth, made two rolls with them, and had his ears plugged with the two cloth rolls. He thought that in this way nobody could hear the sound of the bell. Feeling relieved, he began striking the bell, one blow after another. The resounding sound of the bell was heard at distant places, and finally people caught the thief by gracing the sound.

Storyteller: This story comes from “Lüshi Chunqiu (Mister Lü’s Spring and Autumn [Annals])” written by Buwei Lü, just before the Qin Dynasty(221-207 B.C.)was founded. Allegedly, when Li Yuan, Emperor Gao Zu of the Tang Dynasty(618-907),read this story, he felt it simply ridiculous and said, “This is what is called plugging one’s ears while stealing a bell.”

Later, people have used the set phrase “plugging one’s ears while stealing a bell” to refer to the ignorance and foolishness of the person who deceives himself as well as others.

In fact, the objective world of things are there, will not disappear even if you close your eyes, block your ears noe cover your nose. “Deceiving” by closing yourself will just be self-defeating.

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