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									                     THE COOK‟S KNIFE

  There once was a Master Cook who served the Emperor. In those days, a
cook‟s duties were not only in the actual cooking of the food but in
butchering the animals that were to be cooked. It was considered, and rightly
so, that how the meat was cut was as important as how it was cooked. The
Master Cook was well known, not only for his delicate and fine tasting
healthy dishes, but also for this one amazing fact, his knife never got dull
and never needed sharpening.
   The Emperor, after years of enjoying and even thriving on the Master
Cook‟s meals heard this story and became quite curious. He had the Master
Cook brought before him and asked, “Are you a magician, that you can cut
thousands of times with that knife of yours and it never needs sharpening?”
“No”, said the Master Cook, “I am no magician and it is all quite simple. I
never really cut anything with my blade so it never needs sharpening.” The
Emperor was incredulous because he knew the Master Cook had used this
very same knife day in and day out for many years. “Then this must be a
magical knife that you use?” asked the Emperor. “No”, said the Master
Cook, “It is a quite ordinary knife, though it is very sharp.”
  Now the Emperor was even more curious and a little irritated, so he
commanded, ”Then tell me your secret Master Cook, why does your blade
never gets dull?” The Master Cook responded quickly to the Emperor‟s
command and said, “It is really a very simple thing. When I use my blade, I
allow it to go through the spaces between the joints, even the spaces between
the individual smallest parts of the meat. So you see, the blade really cuts
nothing; it only separates each part from the other. Nothing is hurt and
nothing is ever harmed.” “Ah” exclaimed the Emperor, ”This explains why
your cooking is always so pleasing and life enhancing for me”, for he
realized what great value this „no cutting‟ imparted to the food. “I will
reward you greatly for your fine skill.” Then, when the cook had gone back
to his kitchen, the Emperor thought to himself, “If only I could use my
imperial authority as well as this Master Cook uses his knife, I too, would be
a Master!”

    [Adapted from an ancient Chinese folk tale. Bob Wing, 2008]

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