Yī yè zhàng mù
Translation: Use a leaf to cover one’s eyes.
Meaning: To be nitpicking, to focus on the small details and lose sight of the bigger picture.
There was in the State of Chu a poor scholar, who wanted very much to be rich. One day he read from a book that a mantis often hid behind a leaf to ambush its prey and that whoever was in possession of a leaf used by a mantis could become invisible. He looked and looked and finally found one. But to his dismay he accidentally dropped it, and it fell among many other leaves. He had but collected all of them and brought them home. He then put one leaf after another in front of his eyes and asked his wife if she could see him any more. Of course her answers were disappointingly a series of “Yes.” The poor scholar wouldn’t give up and continued trying the leaves and kept asking his wife if he was still visible. Frustrated and annoyed, the wife said “No.” She lied just to get rid of her pestering husband. The poor scholar thought she had told the truth. With the leaf, he rushed to the market and stole from the shoppers thinking that no one could see him. He was caught red-handed. Upon hearing his story, the magistrate couldn’t help bursting into a guffaw, saying, “You silly scholar! With a leaf covering your eyes, you can’t even see a mountain, but others can still see you as who you are!”
This proverb is to criticize one’s shortsightedness that makes him lose the big picture by concentrating on minute details.
|障||zhàng||to cover, to obstruct (V)|
|障碍||zhàng’ài||obstruction (N), to obstruct (V)|
|盲目||mángmù||to be blind (V)|
You can’t have your views overshadowed by trivial things if you want to make the problems clear.