Town is a small place with very few venues for entertainment,
so each time when a circus comes to visit, it becomes an
occasion of festivity.
Whenever possible, we young
monks would choose such a day coming down the hill to
do some shopping at the marketplace, then stand behind the
crowd watching the show.
The circus tours the villages and market towns, and visits
Watery Town once in ten days. When they come they set the
stage in an open space at the east end of the town, with
no curtain and no ticket required; audience just come and
go as they please, and contribute fares or decline to pay
as they wish.
There is nothing extraordinary about the show, but the people
in the town enjoy the play tremendously, in particular when
an actor finally does a wire
walking (走钢丝), which is forever the highlight of the
whole performance. The audience would all get excited and
cheer with thunderous applause.
But not everyone is impressed with this particular “high”
In the audience, there is a man surnamed Li who is one of
the richest people in the town. Every time when the tightrope
walker reaches the safety of the other side, he would become
extremely disappointed and wretched.
Once as I stood next to him watching the show, I enquired
just what exactly troubled him so much.
“You know, It bothers me like hell,” returned him, stony
faced. “Why on earth he never falls off the wire?”
Later when my master learned of this episode, he commented:
If Mr Li can only finds his enjoyment in other people's misfortune,
how can he ever gain true happiness?
Rape of Nanjing