Once on a faraway mountainous land, there lived three brothers. Everyone there lived in caves, which got the three brothers thinking one day. They sought out their mother.
“Why do we all live in caves?” they asked.
“It is because of the Earthquake God,” she told them, “If we build a house, he would come and wreck it.”
“What if we build a house he cannot wreck?”
“No one knows how,” she replied.
The brothers resolved to build such a house, but they could not agree how to go about it. So each set off far from the other to build his own.
The oldest brother built his house from large stone blocks cemented with mortar. “It is as strong as a mountain,” he thought with satisfaction. The middle brother used heavy timber to build his house, believing it to be strong as a huge tree.
Then one day, the Earthquake God appeared before the oldest brother’s house. “So! They are now building abodes for themselves, are they?” he rumbled. Then he stamped his feet.
The earth shook mightily. The mortar began to crack, the stone blocks came loose and the house gave way. Somehow, the oldest brother maged to get out and make a run for it. He ran and ran for days until he reached his brother’s house of wood.
But before long, the Earthquake God arrived there and stamped his feet again. The house shuddered, its heavy wooden pillars spped, the thick planks on the ceiling and walls collapsed in a heap.
The two brothers now fled to the youngest brother’s house. When they saw it was made of bamboo, cane and cord, their hearts sank.
Very soon, the relentless Earthquake God followed them there and began his destructive act. As he stamped on the ground with terrific strength, the house swayed. The bamboo pillars wobbled, the cane walls vibrated and the joints tied with cord strained to the utmost. But after every mighty shake, the house sprang back straight.
Enraged, the Earthquake God stamped harder and harder. The house took all the punishment and remained standing.
At last, the Earthquake God beat a retreat, a spent force.
The brothers heaved tremendous sighs of relief. The two elder brothers then asked the youngest, “How did your house stand when ours did not?”
“You tried to make your houses stronger than the Earthquake God. I, however, made mine weaker,” explained the youngest brother. He had seen that whatever bends does not break. More importantly, he had understood that weakness, at times, can be strength.