Skip to main content

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 Right been a failure? How have I come to this pass?" To this, Tzu-lu angrily replied, "The superior man can suffer no restrictions. To think that you, Sir, have ever failed in charity of heart is what I cannot believe; to think that you have ever acted unwisely towards others has not come within my experience. Besides, Sir, in other times I have heard you say that God will reward with happiness those who do good, and will punish with misfortunes those who do evil; and now for a long time you have been accumulating a splendid record of virtues and of duty towards your neighbour. How then should you be reduced to this extremity?" "My son," said the Master, "you have not understood me. I will tell you. If all depended on charity of heart, loyalty, and giving good counsel, many great heroes would have escaped suffering and death. But success and failure are matters of opportunity; the worthy and the worthless are distinguished by their talents. Superior men of wide learning and wise schemes, who have failed from want of opportunity, are many indeed; why should I be the only one? The epidendrum grows in the depth of the forest, but it is not wanting in fragrance because there is no one there to smell it; the superior man cultivates the doctrine of Eternal Right and exemplifies it in practice; but he does not give up his principles because he is reduced to extremities. The man acts; the result, whether life or death, belongs to the will of God."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE STORY OF MISS LI

Miss Li, ennobled with the title "Lady of Ch‘ien-kuo," was once a prostitute in Ch‘ang-an. The devotion of her conduct was so remarkable that I have thought it worth while to record her story. In the T‘ien-pao era there was a certain nobleman, Governor of Ch‘ang-chou and Lord of Jung-yang, whose name and surname I will omit. He was a man of great wealth and highly esteemed by all. He had passed his fiftieth year and had a son who was close on twenty, a boy who in literary talent outstripped all his companions. His father was proud of him and had great hopes of his future. "This," he would say, "is the "thousand-league colt" of our family." When the time came for the lad to compete at the Provincial Examinations, his father gave him fine clothes and a handsome coach with richly caparisoned horses for the journey; and to provide for his expense at the Capital, he gave him a large sum of money, saying, "I am sure that your talent is such that …

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.'

The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away.

Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.'

Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away.

The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance.

[This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'. 
Osers noted that this story was from oral tradition.…

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry."

"Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The old…