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Shang Jung would not eat unearned food

Shang Jung had once held the feather and flute. Relying on horse and foot soldiers, he wished to attack the tyrant Chou, but was unable to do so. As a result he went into hiding in T’aih-sing. When King Wu conquered Yin and set himself up as Son of Heaven, he wished to make him one of the Three Grand Dukes (san-kung). Shang Jung refused, saying, "I once relied on horse and foot soldiers, wishing to attack the tyrant Chou, but was unable to do so. That was stupidity. That I went into hiding without fighting was due to a lack of courage. Stupidity and a lack of courage are not sufficient qualifications for a san-kung." He persisted in his refusal to the end and would not accept the king's command.

On hearing of this, the superior man says, "Of Shang Jung it can be said that having examined himself he did not falsely represent his abilities. He was a superior man indeed. He put away from himself unearned food." The Ode says,

O that superior man!
He would not eat unearned food!

Master Shang is an example of this.

商容尝执羽龠,冯于马徒,欲以伐纣而不能,遂去,伏于太行。及武王克殷,立为天子,欲以为三公。商容辞曰:“吾常冯于马徒,欲以伐纣而不能,愚也;不争而隐,无勇也;愚且无勇,不足以备乎三公。”遂固辞不受命。君子闻之曰:“商容可谓内省而不诬能矣!君子哉!去素餐远矣!”《诗》曰:“彼君子兮,不素餐兮。”商先生之谓也。

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