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Why was this time not before me or after me?

Mencius exercised his eloquence on King Hsüan of Ch’i, who was not pleased. Ch’un-yü K’un was in attendance. Mencius said, "Today I exhorted your ruler, but he was not pleased. I suppose that he does not know what good is?"

Ch’un-yü K’un said, "Master, it is only that you are really not good. Of old when Hu-pa played the cither, the fishes of the deep came out to listen; and when Po-ya played the lute, his six horses raised their heads from their feeding. If even fishes and horses know what is good, how much the more must a prince know it."

Mencius said, "Lightning and thunder occur and split bamboo, break trees, and convulse the empire, but they are not able suddenly to make the deaf have hearing. The brightness of sun and moon everywhere illumines the world, but it is not able suddenly to make the blind have sight. Now it is like this with your ruler."

Ch’un-yü K’un said, "Not so. Of old when I-fêng lived in Kao-shang, the people of Ch’i were fond of singing. When Ch’i Liang's wife grieved and wailed, people praised her voice. Truly, ‘There is no sound so faint as not to be heard, and no conduct so secret as not to show.' If you, Master, are living as a sage in Lu, how is it that the state of Lu is being dismembered?"

Mencius said, "If the sage is not employed, the result is ruin; how can there be only dismemberment? The fish large enough to swallow a boat does not dwell in a shallow pool, nor does the gentleman of capacity dwell in a polluted world. Just as plants, when winter comes, must wither, so have I too my seasons."

The Ode says,

Why was this time not before me?
Or why was it not after me?

Is this not said of one who encountered a time of withering?



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