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Tzŭ-lu was gathering firewood with Wu-ma Ch’i

Tzŭ-lu was gathering firewood with Wu-ma Ch’i at the foot of Mt. Yün. Among the rich men of Ch’ên there was one named Ch’u-shih with a hundred decorated chariots, who gave himself up to feasting on Mt. Yün.

Tzŭ-lu said to Wu-ma Ch’i, "If, without forgetting what you now know, but also without advancing any in what you now are capable of, you attained to such wealth as this, provided you would never get to go back and see the Master again, would you do it?"

Wu-ma Ch’i, looking toward Heaven with a deep sigh, stopped and threw his sickle to the ground saying, "I have heard from the Master that a brave gentleman never forgets that he may lose his head, while the determined gentleman or the man endowed with jên never forgets that his end may be in a ditch or a stream. Is it that you do not know me? Or are you trying me? Or is it perhaps your own intention?"

Tzŭ-lu was mortally ashamed and, shouldering his firewood, went home first.

Confucius said, "Well, Yu, why do you come back first when you went out in company?"

Tzŭ-lu told what happened a while ago when he was gathering firewood with Wu-ma Ch’i at the foot of Mt. Yün. He was mortally ashamed, and so he shouldered his firewood and came back first."
Confucius took up his lute and played on it, singing the Ode,

Su-su go the feathers of the wild geese,
As they settle on the bushy oaks.
The king's affairs must not be slackly discharged,
And so we cannot plant our millets;
What will our parents have to rely on?
O thou distant and azure Heaven!
When shall we be in our places again?

Shall my way not be practiced? If you are willing. . . ."



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