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Tseng Shen

Tseng Shen (550-435BCE), courtesy name Tzu yü, was a Chinese philosopher, and a disciple of Confucius. He was the teacher of Tzu Ssu (483-402 BCE), the Grandson of Confucius. He is credited as the transmitter of the Great Learning, an important work that was incorporated in the Book of Rites.  He is also with having authored the Book of Fillial Piety.

Tseng Shen was a fillial son. When he was young, Tseng Shen was very poor, he had to cut wood for fuel from the mountain. Once when he was away on the hill, a visitor came to his home. His mother didn't not know how to treat the visitor, so she bit her finger. Tseng Shen suddenly felt pain in his heart. He immediately realized that his mother was calling! No later his action than his thought, and he quickly returned home, found that he had a visitor at home, and his mother was in distress.

Tseng Shen was honest and strictly keep his promise even to his child. One day, when Tseng Shen's wife was going to the market, their son cri…

The man acts; the result belongs to the will of God

The Prince of the Ch'u State having invited Confucius to visit him, the Master proceeded thither to pay his respects. His way lay through Ch'en and Ts'ai; and the high officials of those States consulted together, saying, "Confucius is an inspired and good man; his counsels will consist of attacks upon the vices of us nobles; and if that should be the case, our States would be in danger."

Accordingly, they arranged for a number of armed men to obstruct the Sage's way and to prevent him from continuing his journey.

His party were cut off from supplies for seven days, nothing being allowed to reach them. Broth made from leaves was not sufficient, and all fell ill except Confucius himself, whose spirits rose higher than usual, as he lectured, recited, played, and sang without giving way. He called Tzu-lu to him and said, " We read in the Odes,
We are neither wild cattle nor tigers,
That we should be kept in these desolate wilds  Has my doctrine of Eternal R…

Clever trickery is not equal to stupid sincerity

One day, when Meng Sun was out hunting, a fawn was captured. Meng Sun bade his huntsman put it on a cart and take it home; but the dam followed and bleated so piteously that the huntsman could not bear to be unkind to the animal, and let the fawn go. When they got home, Meng Sun asked where the fawn was, and the huntsman said, "I could not bear to be so unkind, and I gave the fawn back to its dam." Meng Sun was furious at this, and dismissed the man from his service; but three months later he recalled him, and appointed him to be tutor to his son. Upon this, an official of the Court said, "Not long ago, you punished this man, and now you appoint him to be tutor to your son; how is this?" Meng Sun replied, "If he cannot bear to be unkind to an animal, how will he bear to be unkind to my son?"

Brutality versus humanity

Yo Yang was a general in the army of the Wei State. When he attacked Chung-shan, his son was in the beleagured city. The prince of Chung-shan boiled this son alive and sent some of the broth to his father, who received it sitting in his military headquarters and drank up a whole cupful. The marquis of Wei, speaking in commendation, said to an officer, "Yo Yang ate his son's flesh for my sake." "If he ate his own son," replied the officer, "who is there whom he would not eat?" When Yo Yang had captured Chung-shan, the marquis duly rewarded him, but became suspicious of his loyalty.

Circumstances alter cases

OF old Mi Tzu-hsia was much attached to the Prince of the Wei State, where there was a law that any one who should furtively ride in one of the royal chariots would be punished by having his feet cut off. Now when Mi's mother was ill and her illness was reported to him, he went boldly off in one of the Prince's chariots to see her. On hearing of this, the Prince entirely approved, saying, "Filial piety! For the sake of his mother he risked the loss of his feet."

On another occasion. Mi was strolling with the Prince in a fruit-garden; and finding that a peach, of which he had partly eaten, was unusually sweet, he offered the remaining piece to the Prince. The Prince said, "Love for me! He forgets himself."

Mi's face fell, and his attachment abated. The Prince added, "He furtively rode off in one of my chariots, and now he wants to feed me with the balance of his peach." (Han Fei Tzu)

The Duke liked it, and therefore his Ministers did it

Of old, Duke Wen liked his soldiers to wear coarse clothes; and therefore all his Ministers wore sheepskin robes, leather sword-belts, and caps of rough silk, both when having audience and when on duty at Court. Why did they do this? The Duke liked it, and therefore his Ministers did it.

Of old, Duke Ling liked his soldiers to have small waists; and therefore his Ministers made it their rule to have only one meal a day. They drew in their breath before buckling on their belts; they held on to the wall to help themselves to get up; and by the end of a year they were all in danger of turning black from starvation. Why did they do this? The Duke liked it, and therefore his Ministers did it.

Of old, Prince Kou Chien liked his soldiers to be brave, and instructed his Ministers to train them accordingly. When they had followed out these orders, the Prince set fire to a ship in order to test the soldiers, crying out, "All our State jewels are on board!" He then beat the Drum for a…

Until we meet in the Underworld

In 721 B.C., the mother of Duke Chuang of the Ch'ing State conspired against him, with a view to put her younger son on the throne. The plot failed.

Then the Duke placed his mother under restraint, swearing to her the following oath: "Until we meet in the Underworld, I will not look upon you again," an oath of which he shortly repented. Later on, one of the frontier officials, who had heard the story, came to pay his respects. The Duke entertained him with a meal, and noticed that he put aside a portion of the meat served to him. On the Duke asking him why he did so, the official replied, "Your servant has a mother, who always shares his food; she has never tasted your Grace's meat, and I beg to be allowed to keep some for her." The Duke said, "Ah, you have a mother to whom you can give things; alas! I have no mother." The official ventured to ask how this could be; and the Duke told him, adding that he now repented of his oath. "This need n…