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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!

闵子骞始见于夫子,有菜色,后有刍豢之色。子贡问曰:“子始有菜色,今有刍豢之色,何也?”闵子曰:“吾出蒹葭之中,入夫子之门,夫子内切瑳以孝,外为之陈王法,心窃乐之;出见羽盖龙旗裘旃相随,心又乐之;二者相攻胸中,而不能任,是以有菜色也。今被夫子之文寖深,又赖二三子切瑳而进之,内明于去就之义,出见羽盖龙旗旃裘相随,视之如坛土矣,是以有刍豢之色。”《诗》曰:“如切如瑳,如琢如磨。”

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