Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 9 News List


The idiom first appeared in the Complete Record of the Transmission of the Lamp, a record of Chan (Zen) masters and other prominent Buddhist monks published in 1004AD by the monk Shi Daoyuan. Chapter 10 is on Chan Master Congshen, who it is said settled in the Guanyin Yuan Temple in northern China at the age of 80 and, for the next 40 years, taught a small group of monks there. According to Shi Daoyuan, on one occasion Master Congshen said to his monks, “This evening I will answer your questions; if there is anyone who needs something explained, please step forward.” When a monk came forward, the master looked at him and said 比來拋磚引玉,卻引得個墼子: “I was hoping to cast out a brick and be returned with jade: it seems what I have got is an unfired slab.” That was a bit harsh.

In English, a phrase with the meaning of using something of relatively little value to secure greater rewards or benefits is “set a sprat to catch a mackerel,” although it refers to a willingness to sacrifice the former for the possibility of gaining the latter. Another variant is to “throw out a minnow to catch a whale.” In terms of usage, the phrase “get the ball rolling” — to do something to commence an event — might be closer to 拋磚引玉. This is a colloquial expression dating to late 18th century Britain, and refers to bandy — a form of hockey — or rugby.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

OK, enough of the pleasantries, let’s get the ball rolling. Bob, could you share your thoughts on the Xinyi project?


This story has been viewed 4132 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top