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Confucius was studying the lute under the music master Hsiang-tzŭ

Confucius was studying the lute under the music master Hsiang-tzŭ, but made no progress. Master Hsiang-tzŭ said, "It is within your power, sir, to make progress."

Confucius said, "I have already grasped the melody, but as yet I have not got the structure of this music."

After a while Hsiang-tzŭ said, "It is within your power, sir, to make more progress."

Confucius said, "I have already grasped the structure, but as yet I do not have its meaning."

After a while Hsiang-tzŭ again said, "It is within your power, sir, to make more progress," and Confucius said, "I have already got its meaning, but I have not yet got the man."

After a while (Hsiang-tzŭ) again said, "It is within your power, sir, to make (more) progress," and (Confucius) said,

"I have already got the man who composed the piece, but I still have not managed to place him." For a while he gazed off into the distance, lost in deep thought. Then he said, "Pensive and majestic is he who must have composed this music. Darkly black, and grandly tall he rules the empire and attracts to his court the feudal lords: it can be no other than King Wên."

Master Hsiang-tzŭ withdrew from the mat, bowed twice, and said, "Good. Music masters attribute this song to King Wên."

So it was that Confucius, in apprehending the sounds composed by King Wên knew what he must be like as a man.

Master Hsiang-tzŭ said, "I venture to ask how you knew the song was by King Wên?"

Confucius said, "A man characterized by jên values repression; (?) a harmonious man values decoration; a wise man values simplicity, (?) and a man with the intention of being sincere values beauty. (??) This is how I knew it was song by King Wên."

Traditionally, that man is a saint who penetrates to the true nature of a thing from having experienced only its external manifestations.



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