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Mair 14:4

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When Confucius was wandering westward in Wey, Yen Yuan {{Yen Hui}} inquired of Maestro Chin, {{Apparently a music teacher from the state of Lu.}} saying, "What do you think of the master's behavior?"

"It's a pity!" said Maestro Chin.  "Your master's end is imminent!"

"Why?" asked Yen Yuan.  "Before straw dogs {{These were placed before the gods during sacrifices to ward off evil spirits.  After the ceremony, they would be destroyed.}} are displayed at a sacrifice," said Maestro Chin, "they are packed in bamboo containers wrapped with patterned embroideries.  The impersonator of the dead fasts before taking them out.  After they have been displayed, passersby trample their heads and spines, grasscutters gather them for lighting cooking fires.  That's all they're good for.  If someone were to gather them up and pack them back into their bamboo containers covered with patterned embroideries, keeping them next to his side when he wandered abroad, stayed at home, and slept, he would certainly have bad dreams or repeated nightmares.

Now, your master has likewise gathered up the straw dogs displayed by previous kings and keeps them next to his side while he wanders abroad, stays at home, and sleeps with his assembled disciples.  Consequently, they had a tree they were resting under chopped down in the state of Sung and their traces obliterated in Wey, and they were impoverished in the capitals of the old Shang duchy and the Chou kingdom.  Weren't these his bad dreams?  When they were in the area of Ch'en and Ts'ai, {{Two small states, on the border of which Confucius once nearly lost his life.  This famous incident is recorded in many ancient works (Records of the Scribe, Analects, Mencius, Mo Tzu, and Hsiin Tzu) and occurs in the Chuang Tzu in the context of a whole series of disasters that plagued Confucius as he traveled from one state to another seeking a ruler who would put his doctrines into practice.

     The first story tells of Confucius going on a tour of the state of Sung.  He and his disciples stopped to rest under a large tree.  The master instructed his disciples to practice their ritual and etiquette.  Just at that moment, Huan T'ai, the minister of war for Sung, commanded that the tree be cut down and was about to have Confucius murdered when the latter fled.  Huan T'ai's enmity for Confucius is said to have stemmed from the master's criticism of his cruelty and excess in the construction of his own tomb.

     In the next story, the Duke of Wey permitted Confucius and his followers to enter his state, but he kept such a close watch on them that they decided to leave.  As they were departing, the people of a border town, mistaking them for a band of robbers who had raided the area not long before, surrounded Confucius and his disciples.  Only after five days did the local strongman release them, warning Confucius never to come back to the state of Wey.  The specific allusions to the Shang duchy and the Chou kingdom in this passage are not known, except to say that neither of these states heeded Confucius' counsel.  They were also probably unwilling to foot the considerable bill for the master and his entourage.

     The rulers of Ch'en and Ts'ai, afraid that Confucius would travel to help their powerful southern neighbor, the state of Ch'u, surrounded him when he passed through their states.  He is said to have been released only through the intervention of Ch'u.  It is reported that, while he was being detained, Confucius survived on chenopod soup for a week.  "Chenopod" is the Latinate equivalent of "goosefoot."  The Chenopodiaceae family includes pigweed, lamb's quarters, beets, spinach, the broom plant, and many common weeds.  In old China, chenopods were associated with famine and poverty.

     On page 303 there is reference to the story of Confucius having fled to Ch'i when there was chaos in Lu.  Duke Ch'ing of Ch'i was impressed by Confucius' political advice and wanted to enfeoff him, but was prevented from doing so by the prime minister of Ch'i, Yen Ying.}} Confucius and his disciples were besieged and went without cooked food for seven days, till they were on the verge of death.  Wasn't this his nightmare?

"For traveling on water, nothing is better than a boat, and for traveling on land, nothing is better than a cart.  A boat can travel on water, but if on that account you try to push it along the land, you wouldn't travel more than a few yards in a whole generation.  Aren't antiquity and the present like water and land?  Aren't the Chou dynasty and the state of Lu like the boat and the cart?  Now, if one were to aspire to practice the ancient ways of Chou in Lu, this would be like pushing a boat on land; it would be all toil and no accomplishment.  The person who tried it would certainly meet with misfortune.  He has yet to learn the random rotation that responds to things inexhaustibly.

"Haven't you seen a wellsweep?  When you pull on it, it goes down, and when you let go of it, it comes up.  Because it is pulled by men and does not pull men around, it can go up and down without committing an offense against men.  Therefore, the decorum and regulations of the three august sovereigns and five emperors were not prized because they preserved the status quo, but because they could bring good government.  Thus we may compare the decorum and regulations of the three august sovereigns and five emperors to the hawthorn, the pear, the orange, and the pomelo.  Although their flavors are quite different, they all taste good.

"Therefore, decorum and regulations should change with the times.  Now, you may take a monkey and dress him up in the robes of the Duke of Chou, but he's certain to bite them and tear them, and he won't be satisfied until he's completely rid of them.  If we observe the difference between antiquity and the present, it's like that between a monkey and the Duke of Chou.  Likewise, when the beauteous Hsi Shih had heart pain, she would frown at her neighbors.  An ugly woman of her village, seeing Hsi Shih do this, thought it made her look beautiful.  So she went home and, pressing her hands over her heart, frowned at her neighbors.  When the rich people of the village saw her, they would close their doors tightly and not go out.  When the poor people saw her, they would grab their wives and children and run away.  She knew that Hsi Shih's frowning was beautiful, but didn't know the reason why her frowning was beautiful.  It's a pity!  Your master's end is imminent!"
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