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Showing posts from January, 2017

Left his mother to die for his prince

When the Governor of Po, of Ch’u, was in difficulty, there was a certain Chuang Chih-shan, who took leave of his mother to go die for his prince. His mother said, "Is it right to leave your mother to die for your prince?" He said, "I have heard that in serving his prince, a man takes pay for his own family but devotes his person to someone outside his family. Now what I use to support my mother is the salary I get from my prince. I beg to go die for him." On the way to the court he thrice fell down in his chariot. His servant said, "If you are afraid, why not turn back?" He said, "Fear is my personal feeling. To die for my prince is my public duty. I have heard that the superior man does not let personal feelings interfere with his public duty." Then he went and died for him. When the superior man hears of this he says, "Who really loves his duty (i) must, alas, carry it out." The Ode says, If deep, I will go through with

A mother does not weep at her son's death

When Kung-fu Wên-po of Lu died, his mother did not weep. Chi-sun, hearing of this, said, "Kung-fu Wên-po’s mother is a virtuous woman. If she does not weep at her son's death, there must be a reason." He sent a man to make inquiries. The mother replied, "Formerly I had this son of mine serve Chung-ni. When Chung-ni left Lu, in sending him off my son did not go beyond the suburbs of the capital of Lu; in making him presents, he did not give him the family's precious objects. When my son was sick I did not see any gentleman come to visit him, and when he died I did not see any shed tears for him. But on the day of his death there were ten of his female attendants who, putting on sackcloth and white mourning clothes, followed him to the grave. This shows that toward gentlemen he was lacking, and toward women too generous. This is why I did not weep," The Ode says: Here is this man, With virtuous words, but really not good. 鲁公甫文伯死,其母不哭也。季孙闻之,曰:“公甫文伯之母、贞女也

Yüan Hsien dwelt in Lu

Confucius’ disciple Yüan Hsien dwelt in Lu in a house only one room surrounded by four walls; it was thatched with grasses; the door was a mat, and the window the mouth of a broken pot; a bent mulberry tree served as door support; above, the roof leaked, and below the floor was wet. After seating himself correctly, he would play the lute and sing. Another disciple of Confucius Tzŭ-kung came to see Yüan Hsien, with fat horses to his carriage and wearing light furs, deep purple inside and undyed outside. Since his high chariot could not get into the lane, he walked up to call upon him. Yüan Hsien answered the door, wearing a cap of ch’u bark and carrying a wooden staff. He straightened his cap and the string broke; he adjusted the lapel of his gown and his elbows came out; he put on his shoes and the heels burst. Tzŭ-kung said, "Eh, sir, what ails you?" Yüan Hsien looking up answered, "I have heard that to be without property is termed poverty, and that to be unabl

Confucius was traveling south on his way to Ch’u

Confucius was traveling south on his way to Ch’u when he came to the declivity of A-ku, where a maiden who wore a semi-circle of jade at her belt was washing clothes. Confucius said, "No doubt yonder woman can be approached?" He drew out a cup and handed it to Tzŭ-kung saying, "Address her politely, that we may see what she says." Tzŭ-kung said to the woman, "I, a humble northerner on my way south to Ch’u, find the weather hot. Ardently I think of you; I wish to beg a drink to demonstrate my feelings." The woman replied, "This declivity of A-ku [holds] a winding stream, whose water is alternately clear and turbid as it flows on its way to the sea. If you wish to drink, then drink. Why ask a woman?" She took Tzŭ-kung's cup, went to the stream and dipped it in against the current; then she threw out the water with a splash and dipped it in again with a splash, following the current, and filled it to overflowing. Kneeling she placed it on the

Diplomat Tang Ju defended the dignity of his country

Towards the end of the Warring States Period, the whole world had learned about the greed, power and ruthlessness of Qin, and all was careful not to get in its way. Qin had the most ferocious soldiers, the finest weapons, all the money and endless supply of grains and stock, and all it lacked was the excuse to attack. It was its custom to raise some ridiculous demands, and upon being denied, to make wars. In this fashion it has swallowed many states, big and small. The remaining states held their breaths in utter fear, as if they lay at the edge of a gigantic mouth and one misstep would lead to their final destruction. Just then the State of Han disappeared and the State of Wei also disappeared. The militant Qin “ate” both without spitting the bones. The State of An Ling could hardly be considered a state, for it was only a satellite of Wei, established when the Duke of Wei carved out a piece of land for his half brother and named him the duke of An Ling. The land was altogether fift

Flattery and Personal Bias Could be Very Harmful

At the time of the Warring States Period, there lived in the state of Qi a man called Zou Ji, who was six feet tall and very handsome. One day he put on beautiful clothes and hat, and looked at himself in the mirror with satisfaction. He asked his wife, “Between me and Mr. Xu from the north part of the town, who is more handsome?” His wife looked at him with love and said, “Of course, you are by far the more handsome!” Zou Ji could not believe what he heard, as Mr. Xu was widely known in this country for his outstanding looks. He then asked his concubine, “What do you think?” His concubine stood behind him and said in a small voice, “How can Mr. Xu be compared with you, sir?” Two days later, a guest came to stay, and Zou Ji asked him the same question. The guest also said with assurance, “Why, Mr. Xu is not as handsome as you.” A few days later, Mr. Xu himself called on Zou Ji. The two men talked and laughed at leisure. Zou Ji secretly studied his rival, and decided that by all measure

The Humourist Kun Chun-yu

Kun Chun-yu was taken in by his bride's family in the State of Qi. He was less than five feet four inches tall. He was humorous and argumentative. He had been an ambassador to other countries many times and never once let the State of Qi get insulted. The King  of Qi loved to party all night, and indulged himself in wine and women and let his officials take care of his job. There was much corruption in his government. The neighbouring countries all invaded the State of Qi. Qi's destruction was imminent. No officials in the king's court dared to give the king any advice. Kun Chun-yu advised the king with the following fable, "There is a big bird in Qi which is resting in the king's court. It has not flown or crowed for three years. Can Your Majesty identify the bird?" The king said, "This bird may not fly. But once it flies, it will shoot into the sky like a rocket. The bird may keep silent. But once it crows, it will surprise everyone." Consequ

The Phoenix Terrace

Long ago, in the state of Qin, there was a man named Xiao Shi, who loved playing the music instrument Xiao. The Xiao he played might be the vertical singular bamboo flute, or the Paixiao which consists of many pipes of gradually increasing length, each pipe producing one note. I guess the instrument Xiao Shi played must be the latter, because It is shaped like the wings of a phoenix, and it is said that when he plays the xiao, its melodious tune attracted white cranes and peacocks to dance around him, even phoenix come down from the heaven to listen! Thus, this instrument is also called phoenix pipes. In that same state, the great Duke Mu of Qin had a beautiful daughter. For a child’s first birthday, the Chinese have a custom of setting out a plate filled with different objects for the baby to grab. In this small ritual, the parents hope to get a glimpse of the child’s future inclination. The plate held money, ink brush, jewels, books and other treasures. The Duke’s daughter’s smal

The King Who Lit the Beacon to Trick the Lords

King You of Zhou was a bad man, who neglected his country and spent his whole life eating, drinking and flirting with women. His favourite of them all was the concubine named Bao Si, whom he adored greatly. However, Bao Si never smiled, and the King was annoyed about this. He offered a huge reward on whoever made Bao laugh. An obsequious official, Guo, thought of a nasty idea. To defend China from the barbarous tribe, about twenty beacons had been built along the mountains from the frontier to the capital. When the the barbarous tribe attacked China, the first beacon would be lit. The second beacon would be lit at the sight of the first, and so on. When nearby lords, who owned land and power in the feudalist society, saw the lit towers, they would send an army to assist the king. Guo told the King to light the beacons in order to trick the lords. They did as planned. The lords, thinking that their country was in danger, brought their army to fight the barbarous tribe. When they arr

Calling a deer a horse

When the Emperor of Qin died of illness in Shaqiu, there were three persons with him: the Prime Minister Li Si, the Eunuch Zhao Gao, and Prince Huhai. Li Si was the left hand man of the Emperor Qin, who had helped the emperor defeat his enemies and rule China. Huhai was the second son of the late emperor. Zhao Gao was a lowly eunuch who was hungry for power. Zhao Gao suggested killing the Heir Apparent Fusu by faking a letter from the late emperor and letting the second son Huhai become the next emperor. Li Si, who was concerned whether Fusu would support him, accepted. Huhai, who was unwise, accepted as well. After declaring Huhai as the Emper Qin Er Shi, he decided to control the entire government. The man brought a deer to a meeting. He showed that deer in front of the emperor and the officials, and said it was a great horse. The emperor, who regarded Zhao Gao as a teacher and therefore trusted him completely, thought it was a deer, and many officials thought so too. Some were

The Moon Lady Chang-O

According to legend, Chang'e and her husband Houyi were immortals living in heaven. One day, the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transformed into ten suns, causing the earth to scorch. Having failed to order his sons to stop ruining the earth, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi, using his legendary archery skills, shot down nine of the sons, but spared one son to be the sun. The Jade Emperor was obviously not pleased with Houyi's solution to save the earth: nine of his sons were dead. As punishment, the Jade Emperor banished Houyi and Chang'e to live as mere mortals on earth. Seeing that Chang'e felt extremely miserable over her loss of immortality, Houyi decided to journey on a long, perilous quest to find the pill of immortality so that the couple could be immortals again. At the end of his quest he met the Queen Mother of the West who agreed to give him the pill, but warned him that each person would only need half the pill to become immortal. Houyi brou

The frog of the well

The frog lived down in a well where there was all he had to live. One day, a softshelled turtle came by and told him about the sea. 'The sea? Hah! It's paradise in here. Nothing can be better than this well. Why don't you come down and share my joy?' The turtle tried, and failed as the mouth of the well was too small. 'Why don't you go see the sea instead? During Yu the Great's reign, there was flooding for nine out of ten years, yet the sea barely grew an inch. During Tang of Shang's reign, droughts were experienced in seven out of eight years, yet the sea hardly shrank. Being unaffected by such disasters is the joy of living in the sea.' Moral: Some ignorant people know nothing aside from their own world.

Bian He's Jade Disc (He Shi Bi)

Bian He was a jade master from the state of Chu. He was entrusted with the task of finding the best jade for Chu. He climbed many a mountain and turned over every stone that he came across. One day he came to Mount Jin, where, according to legends, a pair of phoenixes frolicked on slate. Bian He believed that there must be treasure in this mountain. After an exhaustive search, he came upon a large piece of stone that looked unremarkable at first. But upon close inspection of its grains and veins, Bian He was convinced that it was a rare piece of jade. He brought it back to King Li of Chu. King Li asked his court workmen to check it out. The king’s men told the king that it was an ordinary stone not deserving the attention of a king and Bian He was a cheat. Emperor Li ordered the men to chop off Bian He’s left foot and dump him onto the street. Bian He dragged himself back to Mount Jin. In spite of the tremendous pain, he never lost the conviction that the stone was jade. He waited p

Boyi and Shuqi Ashamed of Eating Five Grains of Zhou

Once upon a time, in the east of the Empire of Shang, in a small state of of Gu Zhu, King Ya Wei had three sons. The eldest was called Bo Yi, the second Ya Ping, and the third Shuqi. King Ya Wei loved his youngest son, Shuqi, the best and indicated that Shuqi should be the crowned prince instead of the eldest son, Boyi. When the king died, Shuqi did not want to displace his older brother, and he ran away. Boyi did not want to violate his father’s wish and he also ran away. They lived on the shore of the Northern Sea. The countrymen made the second son Ya Ping the king. In the west of Shang, there was a thriving tribe called Zhou. Boyi and Shuqi learned that King Wen of Zhou was wise and able, and his people were known to be kind to their elders. Boyi and Shuqi heard the rise of King Wen and said to each other, "Why do we not go to him! I heard that the Lord of the West, King Wen, is good at honouring and caring the Old". The two brothers decided to subject themselves to K

The Cuckoo Bird and the Emperor

Duyu (杜宇 Cuckoo Bird) descended from Heaven and resided in Zhuti (朱提), he married a lady called Zhu Li (朱利), who was born in a well. Duyu ascended to the throne after Yu Fu (魚鳧 Fisher Bird), and reigned for a hundred years the ancient kingdom Ba and Shu (巴 蜀) , which encompassed the SiChuan basin. His imperial title was Emperor Wang (望帝) . Du Yu was a kind-hearted king, and he loved his people as much as he loved his siblings and children. He taught his people to plow and sow, and harvest according to seasons and people of Shu adored and trusted him as if he were their father. One year, flood engulfed the country of Shu and people and crops became the food of fish and dragons. Du Yu tried all he could, but the flood continued to rage. When he realized that he could no longer provide security and happiness to his people, and was in great distress, he met a young man called Bie Ling (鳖灵 the Tortoise Spirit). Bie Ling told Emperor Wang that he came from Jing (荆). He was drowned and hi

Emperor Wang and the Cuckoo Bird

Emperor Wang, whose given name was Du-yu, sent his minister Bie Ling to work on irrigation and flood control, and in Bie Ling's absence had an adulterous affair with Bie Ling's wife. On Bie Ling's return, Emperor Wang was overcome with shame. He departed, abdicating his throne to his minister Bie Ling and was transformed in to a cuckoo. The unfaithful and carefree Cuckoo birds lay their eggs in other bird's nests and leave them to bring up the offspring. Emperor Wang was so ashamed that he keeps calling "cuckold" day and night ever since he died and transformed into the cuckoo birds.

Chinese Zither

One day the White-Silk Maiden played on a fifty-string zither for the sage-ruler Fuxi, and the sound was unbearably mournful. To find relief from this sound, Fuxi broke the zither in half, creating the latter-day twenty-five-string zither.

The Laughing Ghost 秀才驅怪

Siu Long-mountain was one of the most celebrated students of the district of Perfect-flowers. Having mastered the mysterious theories of the ancient Classics, he took a fancy in the researches of the Taoist magicians, whose temples may be found in the smallest villages of the Empire. He soon discovered that, for the greater number, they were impostors; and, being proud of his newly acquired science, he concluded that none of them possessed any occult power. When he came to this somewhat hasty conclusion, he was seated alone in his library; the night was already advancing; a small oil lamp hardly illuminated his books on the table he was sitting at. "Yes, there is no doubt; nothing exists outside the material appearances. There is nothing occult in the world, and nothing can come out of nothingness." As he was saying these words half aloud, he was startled by an unearthly laugh which seemed to come from behind his back. He turned quickly round; but nothing was to be seen.

Love's-Slave 愛奴

In the City-between-the-rivers lived a young student named Lan. He had just passed successfully his second literary examination, and, walking in the Street-of-the-precious-stones, asked himself what he would now do in life. While he was going, looking vacantly at the passers-by, he saw an old friend of his father, and hastened to join his closed fists and to salute him very low, as politeness orders. "My best congratulations!" answered the old man. "What are you doing in this busy street?" "Nothing at all; I was asking myself what profession I am now to pursue." "What profession? Which one would be more honourable than that of teacher? It is the only one an 'elevated man' Kiu-jen of the second degree, can pursue. By the by, would you honour my house with your presence? My son is nearly eighteen. He is not half as learned as he should be, and, besides, he has a very bad temper. I feel very old; if I knew you would consent to give him the ri

The Patch Of Lamb's Skin 某公

In the twenty-fourth year K'ang-hsi lived in a remote district of the western provinces, a man who could remember his former lives. He was now a "tsin-shi," "entered-among-the-learned," renowned, and much considered by his friends. When speaking of the existences he had gone through, he used to say: "As far as I remember, I was first a soldier—it was in the last days of the Ming dynasty; my regiment was encamped at The-Divided-roads on the Ten-thousand-miles-great-wall. My remembrances are not very clear as to whom we fought with, but I remember the joy of striking the enemy, the hissing of the arrows, the yelling of the charging troops. "I was still young when I was killed. After death, of course I was called before the tribunal of The-King-of-shadows. Closing my eyes, I can still see the big caldrons full of boiling oil for the trying of criminals; the Judge in embroidered dress seated behind a red table; the satellites everywhere, ready to act on

Unknown Devils 山魈,荍中怪

Suen Pure-whiteness was privileged with the possibility of seeing distinctly all the creatures of the other world, who, for the greater part of humanity, remain always mysterious and invisible. One night he slept in a mountain monastery; he had closed and barred the door; the full moon illuminated the window; everything was quiet. He had slept an hour, when he was awakened by the hissing of the wind; the gate of the monastery seemed to be thrown open; after a while the door of his room was shaken, the bar dropped down, and the heavy wood turned on its hinges. Pure-whiteness thought at first that it would be better to close his eyes and to wait; but his curiosity was aroused, he looked intently; after a few seconds he could see a big devil, so big that he was obliged to stoop in order not to break his head against the ceiling, and who was coming slowly towards the bed. His face had the colour and general appearance of an old melon. His eyes were full of lightning and his mouth was big