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Yen-tzŭ made a visit of state to Lu

Yen-tzŭ made a visit of state to Lu. In ascending the hall he hastened. In presenting the jade he knelt. Tzŭ-kung was surprised at this and asked Confucius, "Does Yen-tzŭ know ritual (li)? He came today on a visit of state to Lu, and when he ascended the hall, he hastened; when he presented the jade he knelt. Why did he do this?"

Confucius said, "He had his reasons. Wait until he comes to see me, and I will ask him about it."
Soon afterward Yen-tzŭ came in, and Confucius asked him about it. Yen-tzŭ replied, "Now the ritual (li) of ascending the hall is for the minister to take two steps when the prince steps once. Today the prince went quickly—did I dare not hasten? Today the prince received my present on a low level. Did I dare not kneel?"

Confucius approved, saying, "In the canon of ritual there are even more rites. With the little experience you Tz’ŭ, have had in such matters, how can you be up to knowing ritual?"

The Ode says,

Li and ceremonies are all according to rule;
Every smile and word are as they should be.

Yen-tzŭ is an example of this.



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