Once, the King of the State of Wu wanted to invade the State of Chu.
The King of Wu warned his ministers:
"If anyone should dare to dissuade me from invading Chu again, I will put him to death."
One young hanger-on of his wanted to dissuade him but didn't dare. He carried a slingshot, and for three consecutive days paced up and down in the King's back garden. The dew wetted his clothes all through.
One day, the King of Wu called him:
"The dew has wetted your clothes to such a state. Why should you bear such hardship?"
The young man replied:
"There is a cicada on a tree in this garden. The cicada is high above, chirping leisurely and taking in the dew freely, not knowing that a mantis is right behind it. The mantis, pressing its body close in a concealed place, is intent on catching the cicada, not knowing that a siskin is hiding right behind it. The siskin is stretching out its neck to peck at the mantis, not knowing that a man carrying a slingshot is under it. These three small creatures make every effort only to get the benefit before them but ignore entirely the disaster behind."
Having heard the young man's words, the King of Wu suddenly saw the light and said:
"What you said is right!"
Consequently, the King of Wu dropped his plan to invade the State of Chu.