Lessons From Mythology: “Carp Leaping Over Dragon’s Gate”

2 min


Mythologies are fascinating to read, not only for inspiring others creatively, but for teaching us timeless lessons about life. The following Chinese myth serves to illustrate a basic but essential fact about life’s struggles.

Carp Leaping Over Waterfalls

According to Chinese Mythology, the Dragon’s Gate can be found at the very top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain. Carp are said to combat the strong current of the river as they swim upstream, attempting to leap over the waterfall. However, only a small amount of fish have the strength and courage to attempt to make the jump, but the struggles are worth it, for if a carp does leap over the Dragon’s Gate, it is transformed into a magical dragon.

This old tale of transcending one’s self is long considered a symbol for perseverance and accomplishment in Chinese culture. The struggle might be harsh and sometimes a little unfair, but it challenges every part of our being to exceed our limits. If we perservere, we are radically transformed and become exponentially more powerful.

In the Pokemon Franchise, a fish Pokemon called Magicarp (Magic-Carp), considered to be one of the weakest monsters in existence, was designed based on this mythology. It is tedious to train it, as it is easily defeated in battles. With enough patience and perserverence, however, it eventually evolves into a powerful, dragon-like Pokemon named Gyarados.

The idea remains the same, the ordinary can become extraordinary, but a lot of strenuous effort is required.


Luck may play a role in our lives, but it is not the deciding factor. Yes, some people are born with pre-dispositions to achieve greatness in certain fields, like Albert Einstein in science or Akiane Kramarik in art, but they still had to ‘climb the waterfall’ in order to unlock their true potential.

If we consider that every ‘dragon’ was once a ‘carp’, we can learn to admire and respect people who succeed, since their struggles were not so different from ours. After all, we are all fighting the same current (life’s struggles). We just have to move forward with courage and take a leap of faith. Perhaps one day we can overcome the waterfall.

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