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Pao Chiao met Tzŭ-kung on the road

Pao Chiao's clothes were so worn his skin showed through; he was holding a basket and gathering vegetables when he met Tzŭ-kung on the road. Tzŭ-kung said, "My dear sir, what has brought you to this?"

Pao Chiao said, "In the empire there are a host of teachers who have abandoned virtue. How could I not have come to this? I have heard that the man who keeps on acting when the world does not know him is acting wrongly, and he who persists in taking part when his superiors do not use him is spoiling his integrity. If his conduct is wrong and his integrity spoiled, and even so he does not desist, it is because he is deluded by profit."

Tzŭ-kung said, "I have heard that one who finds fault with the time should not make his living on profit derived therefrom, and one who thinks his prince is impure should not walk in his territory. Now you, sir, thinking your prince impure, still walk in his territory, and finding fault with the times, you still gather vegetables produced therein. The Ode says.

Under the wide heaven,
All is the king's land.

Whose are these?"

Pao Chiao said, "Alas, I have heard that the sage is reluctant to take office but quick to withdraw, and that the scrupulous man is easily ashamed but thinks lightly of dying." Whereupon, casting away his vegetables, he forthwith stiffened in death on the bank of the Lo River.

When the superior man hears of this he says, "He was scrupulous indeed and unyielding."

Now "if a mountain is merely a pinnacle, it cannot be high, and if the water flows straight, it cannot be deep"; if one's conduct is scrupulous, its efficacy is not great. One who aspires to rank with Heaven and Earth—that person's case is not auspicious. It may be said of Pao Chiao's case that it was inauspicious. His limitations and endowments were just enough to bring him to this end. The Ode says,

So it is!
Heaven has done it;—
What then shall I say?

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