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Min Tzŭ-ch’ien had a hungry look

When Min Tzŭ-ch’ien first appeared before the Master, he had a hungry look. Later on he had a well-fed look.

Tzŭ-kung asked him, "At first you had a hungry look, while now you have a well-fed look. Why is this?"

Min-tzŭ said, "I had come out from the ‘reeds and rushes’ and entered the Master's gate. Now the Master, within, was ‘cut and polished' by filial piety, and, without, he displayed for me the methods of the ancient kings (?). In my heart I secretly rejoiced. I went out and saw plumed chariot canopies and dragon flags, silken banners and fur garments following one another, and in my heart I rejoiced also at these. When the two feelings were mutually opposed in my breast, I was not able to bear it. This is why I had a hungry look. By now I have become deeply imbued with the Master's culture, and, thanks to you gentlemen, I have been ‘cut and polished’ and brought forward. Inside, I am clear about what is proper to leave and what to take up. Outside, the sight of plumed chariot canopies and dragon flags, fur garments and silken banners following one another is in my eyes no more than excrement or dirt. This is why I have a well-fed look."

The Ode says,
As from the knife and the file,
As from the chisel and the polisher!



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