“So this is an idiom. ‘Yu gong’ means foolish old man, ‘yi’ is to move, and ‘shan’ is mountain.
The story is like this: there was an old man whose house was in front of two mountains. These made it really inconvenient to go back and forth from work, so he asked his family to help him level the mountains. The neighbors kept calling him ‘foolish old man’ and he said to them, progeny quote, that ‘I have 2 sons, and my 2 sons will have sons,’ meaning it’s an endless loop, so one day the mountains can be moved. A spirit was overhearing this and was moved by the old man’s stubbornness, so it sent 2 immortals to move the mountains for him.”
This story asserts a few things: one, the importance of having a large family, preferably of sons, and two, the benefits of strong will. When the old man encounters a problem, he immediately is able to rely on his ‘progeny,’ the family that he has raised and who are now raising others. The Chinese concept of the group or family over oneself is necessary to the old man’s solution. The use of the word ‘son’ also ties in with the patriarchy of China and how having baby boys is preferable over having baby girls. The main purpose of this idiom, however, is to teach that strong motivation and hard work can solve anything, and even ‘move mountains.’ I believe that this idea is intrinsic to the work ethic of the Chinese people.