Once there was a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and his position in life. One day he passed a rich man's home. He saw all the possessions and the important people lined up to visit. The stone cutter became envious and wished he could be like the merchant.
To his surprise, his wish was granted; he suddenly became the rich man, enjoying luxury and power, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. While the material things were interesting, he became dissatisfied. Before long, a high official passed by on the street, carried in a sedan, accompanied by an entourage and led by soldiers banging gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow before the procession.
"How powerful that official is!" he thought, "I wish I could be a high official!"
With that thought, he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan, feared and hated by the people all around. At first, the crowds paying him homage were flattering, but before long he grew bored. Because it was a hot summer day, he became uncomfortable in the sedan. He looked up at the sun, shining proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence.
"How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"
Then he became the sun, shining down fiercely on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. In time, a huge black cloud moved between he and the earth so that his light no longer beat down on everything below.
"How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish I could be a storm cloud."
The he became a storm cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But he soon found he was being pushed away by an unseen force and realized it was the wind.
"How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish I could be the wind!"
Then he became the wind, blowing off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering rock.
"How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish I could be that rock!"
Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed.
"What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.
He looked down and saw far below him, the figure of a stone cutter.