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Chinese Zodiac - The Origin of the Circle of Animals - Part 2
The Race For Position On The Circle Of Animals
After all the competitors had been invited, the only thing left was the Race.
All seemed to bode well for the Dragon to win. Yet, soon he fell behind. This was the result of his giving nature. While weaving his way through the clouds, he looked down from his lofty perch and saw that a group of poor villagers needed his help desperately. The land was parched. They looked to the Heavens for Rain and it was the Dragon that answered them.
After finishing his task, the Dragon sped onwards, but it was too late for him to take first place. In fact, the honourable and compassionate nature of the Dragon slowed him down even further when he got to the river. Here, he saw Hare, clinging to a log. Dragon exhaled and thus, with a puff of his mighty breath, blew the rabbit across the river and onto the shore before he, the Dragon waded across. Both his time of arrival and his good deeds resulted in the Dragon claiming the fifth position on the Circle; the Hare having taken fourth.
Meanwhile, the Ox and the Tiger had arrived ahead of the Dragon and the Hare. In fact, the Ox made it across the River early enough to earn second place on the Circle while the Tiger arrived to claim third position on the Circle. The Horse, a fleet and intelligent being was in line to be sixth. Instead, due to cunning behaviour of the Snake, the Horse was placed in Seventh position.
The shrewd Snake knew water would offer him the greatest challenge. Fortunately, he reached the River at the same time as another competitor – the Horse. Immediately, the Snake seized his chance. He threw himself at the foot of the Horse and hid on the hoof. Securely wrapped in place, he simply held his breath until the Horse crossed the River. Then, just before the Horse touched the bank, the Snake leaped out. This frightened the Horse, allowing him, the Snake, to arrive first. It was enough. The Snake and not the Horse was placed sixth on the Circle. The Horse had to accept seventh place.
Meanwhile, the Sheep (Ram), the Monkey and the Rooster decided to create a mutual support group. Each helped the other members along the route to the River. It was truly a team effort. It had been the Rooster who had had noticed a small raft on the shores of the River. All three animals had boarded it with the Monkey and Ram helping to clear the area of reeds so the raft could take them to the shore. As a result, the Buddha gave them eight, ninth and tenth on the Zodiac.
Meanwhile, the Dog decided to take a break. He decided the race was not more important than a bath. The Dog played and frolicked in the River water and left his sports only just in time. As a result, he earned the eleventh spot on the Circle. Now only one position remained to be filled.
The Pig was also careless when it came to timing. In fact, he let his stomach rule his desire to come in first. At the half-way point, he decided a meal was in order. Being a Pig, he overindulged and, after a good and filling meal, fell fast asleep. When he finally awoke from his nap, the Pig barely had enough time to cross the River and claim twelfth and last place.
And The Winner is…
But who, of all the creatures won the race? Who claimed the first place on the Ming Shu? Oddly enough, it was an unlikely competitor – the Rat. From the beginning, the intelligent Rat knew his limitations. He knew he was simply not as fast or as strong as the other animals. He could not fly or even swim well. His chance lay in his ability to outthink the others. His craftiness was to be his tool for winning the race.
As the Rat made his way towards the River, he saw the Ox coming along the path. With barely a hesitation, the Rat launched himself onto the back of the Ox. The Ox, unaware of his passenger, entered the River and began to swim strongly across to the other side. As soon as the shore was in sight, the Rat leaped off the Ox’s back. It was the Rat, therefore, who placed his paws first on land. In doing so, the Rat claimed first place on the Circle of Animals. In doing so, Rat also proved that intelligence was superior to brawn.