One day, Hui Zi met Zhuang Zi and told him this story: "King Hui bestowed upon me some bottle gourd seeds which I planted in the earth. Soon afterwards a big gourd which could hold 5 dan of rice really grew in the field. Never before have I seen such a big gourd, so I was very happy. But it couldn't solve any of my practical problems. I was so disappointed that I smashed it.
When Zhuang Zi heard this, he felt very sorry and said: "It's really a pity that you smashed such a good gourd so rashly."
Hui Zi couldn't wait for Zhuang Zi to finish to ask: "You feel it is a pity, then what would you use it for?"
Zhuang Zi calmly told Hui Zi a story: "There was a man in our State of Song who could make medicine for preventing chilblains. For generations his family bleached and washed cotton wadding for others for a living. Someone heard of this and visited their house. He was willing to pay 100 catties of gold to buy the secret prescription handed down from their ancestors. The whole family discussed this matter: `I think we had better sell it to him. We have bleached and washed for others for generations with pitiful income. If we sell the prescription now, we can get a large sum of money at once. We mustn't miss this opportunity!’Consequently, the whole family agreed to sell the prescription."
Zhuang Zi continued: "The man who got the prescription felt as if he had gotten 1,000 pieces of gold. He went to the King of Wu to sell his idea. At the time, the State of Yue invaded the State of Wu. The King of Wu sent the man to lead his troops into battle.
"It was winter then, and the weather was very cold. The armies of the State of Yue and the State of Wu fought on water. As the Wu army had this secret prescription, not a single soldier in the army suffered from frostbite of hands or feet. In the end, they totally vanquished the Yue army. For this, the King of Wu rewarded that man generously and offered him a high post.
"Some people use the medicine for preventing chilblains to get high posts and titles, while others only use it to bleach and wash cotton wadding for others. Why? This is because some people can put inferior timber to big use whereas others put fine timber only to petty use."
Zhuang Zi stopped at this point, thought for a while, then continued again: "Sir, you should also learn to utilize your large gourd. I think, instead of using the gourd as a ladle for water, it would be better to use it as a yao zhou (floating aid) to cross rivers and seas. Won't it be better than the present state?"
After hearing this, Hui Zi nodded repeatedly and admitted that Zhuang Zi was wiser than he. He said with a sigh: "It seems that I am a person with a muddled head after all."