A Qi Man's Worries About the Collapse of Heaven and Earth



A man from State Qi worried so much about the possible collapse of heaven and earth that he could neither sleep nor eat anything. Someone worried about his worry and came to explain it to him, “Heaven is the accumulation of air. Air has filled up everywhere and nowhere has no air. If you stretch your limbs and breathe, you are in heaven. Why do you worry about the collapse of heaven? The earth is the accumulation of blocks. Blocks have filled up in all directions. Nowhere has no blocks. How can you worry about the collapse of the earth?”

The man of State Qi then realized his foolishness and lived happily ever after. A Taoist thinker from State Chu heard the story and laughed, “Heaven and earth are a tiny thing in the space but the biggest one in all existences. It is too far from truth to worry about its collapse, but it is equally wrong to say it will not collapse. When it collapses how can we not worry?”

Lieh Tzu who lived in the fourth century BC heard this and laughed, saying, “It is ridiculous to say heaven and earth will collapse, and it is equally ridiculous to say heaven and earth will not collapse. We cannot know whether it will collapse or not. In the same way, death does not know life and life does not know death, come does not know gone and gone does not know come. Who cares whether it collapses or not? Why do we need to care at all?” ( Story adapted from Lieh Tzu, Chapter 1)