成語故事

Three in the Morning and Four at Night

There once lived a man called Mr. Jiu, who loved to raise monkeys. Mr. Jiu prepared for his monkeys a very comfortable place to live, and personally fed them everyday. Therefore, Mr. Jiu knew his monkeys very well, and the monkeys understood everything that he said.

However, Mr. Jiu's monkeys ate so much food that soon there was not enough left for his family. And so Mr. Jiu was forced to decrease the amount of food he fed his monkeys.

Mr. Jiu first went to talk to his monkeys. He told them that from then on, he would give them each three chestnuts every morning, and four every night. Realizing that their food supply was about to be decreased, these monkeys began to jump up and down with displeasure. So Mr. Jiu said, "Well, then, four in the morning and three at night, OK?" And thinking that this was a greater amount than before, the monkeys nodded their heads in agreement.

Today, "three in the morning and four at night" is used to describe a person who is always changing his mind, so that one can never depend on what he says.

朝三暮四

通達事理的人知道天下就是那麼一回事,因此不會為了得到什麼而特別追求,做起事來總是心平氣和。總是心平氣和去做事的人,會漸漸體察到這個道理,體察到了,也就離道不遠了。做而無求。

不知道這個道理而勞心費神的人,叫做『朝三』。什麼叫『朝三』呢?有一個養猴子的人給猴子喂栗子吃,說:「早上三顆,晚上四顆。」猴子都非常生氣。主人便說:「既然這樣,那麼早上四顆,晚上三顆好了。」猴子們都很高興。實質沒有什麼差異,只是情緒發生了改變。

所以聖人沒有高興和不高興的,只是隨自然規律而行,我是我,事情是事情。

「朝三暮四」告誡人們要注重實際,防止被表面假象蒙騙。現指人說話、辦事反覆無常、經常變卦。


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