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Know the Vegetative Power of the Pine and Cypress (是以知松柏之茂也)
03-25-2013, 12:14 PM
Post: #1
Know the Vegetative Power of the Pine and Cypress (是以知松柏之茂也)
When Confucius was reduced to extreme distress between Khan and Tshâi, for seven days he had no cooked meat to eat, but only some soup of coarse vegetables without any rice in it. His countenance wore the appearance of great exhaustion, and yet he kept playing on his lute and singing inside the house.

Yen Hui was outside, selecting the vegetables, while Tsze-lû and Tsze-kung were talking together, and said to him, 'The Master has twice been driven from Lû; he had to flee from Wei; the tree beneath which he rested was cut down in Sung; he was reduced to extreme distress in Shang and Kâu; he is held in a state of siege here between Khan and Tshâi; any one who kills him will be held guiltless; there is no prohibition against making him a prisoner. And yet he keeps playing and singing, thrumming his lute without ceasing. Can a superior man be without the feeling of shame to such an extent as this?' Yen Hui gave them no reply, but went in and told their words to Confucius, who pushed aside his lute, and said, 'Yû and Tshze are small men. Call them here, and I will explain the thing to them.'

When they came in, Tsze-lû said, 'Your present condition may be called one of extreme distress.' Confucius replied, 'What words are these! When the Superior man has free course with his principles, that is what we call his success; when such course is denied, that is what we call his failure. Now I hold in my embrace the principles of benevolence and righteousness, and with them meet the evils of a disordered age;-- where is the proof of my being in extreme distress? Therefore looking inwards and examining myself, I have no difficulties about my principles; though I encounter such difficulties (as the present), I do not lose my virtue. It is when winter's cold is come, and the hoar-frost and snow are falling, that we know the vegetative power of the pine and cypress. This strait between Khan and Tshâi is fortunate for me.' He then took back his lute so that it emitted a twanging sound, and began to play and sing. At the same time Tsze-lû, hurriedly, seized a shield, and began to dance, while Tsze-kung said, 'I did not know before the height of heaven nor the depth of the earth.'

The ancients who had got the Tâo were happy when reduced to extremity, and happy when having free course. Their happiness was independent of both these conditions. The Tâo, and its characteristics!-- let them have these and distress and success come to them as cold and heat, as wind and rain in the natural order of things. Thus it was that Hsü Yû. found pleasure on the north of the river Ying, and that the earl of Kung enjoyed himself on the top of mount Kung.


孔子穷于陈蔡之间,七日不火食,藜羹不糁,颜色甚惫,而弦歌于室。颜回择菜,子路、子贡相与言曰:“夫子再逐于鲁,削迹于卫,伐树于宋,穷于商周,围于陈蔡,杀夫子者无罪,藉夫子者无禁。弦歌鼓琴,未尝绝音,君子之无耻也若此乎?”颜回无以应,入告孔子。孔子推琴喟然而叹曰:“由与赐,细人也。召而来,吾语之。”

子路、子贡入。子路曰:“如此者可谓穷矣!”

孔子曰:“是何言也!君子通于道谓之通,穷于道谓之穷。今丘抱仁义之道以遭乱世之患,其何穷之为!故内省而不穷于道,临难而不失其德,天寒既至,霜雪既降,吾是以知松柏之茂也。陈蔡之隘,于丘其幸乎!”孔子削然反琴而弦歌,子路扢然执干而舞。子贡曰:“吾不知天之高也,地之下也。”

古之得道者,穷亦乐,通亦乐。所乐非穷通也,道德于此,则穷通为寒暑风雨之序矣。故许由娱于颖阳而共伯得乎共首。
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