The Man beside Me is not a Monarch, but a Contemptible Man

Shi Kang (师旷) was a famous musician of the Jin (晋) State in the Spring-Autumn Period. He was a hereditary official musician, and his position was called “Taishi” (太师). He was a straightforward man, and hated despotism.

In 559 BC, Wei Xian-Gong (卫献公), the monarch of the Wei (卫) State, was expelled, because he was not respectful to two prime ministers. Jin Dao-Gong (晋悼公) heard the news, and said to Shi Kuang, “The people of the Wei State expelled their monarch. didn’t they go too far?” Shi Kuang said, “Their monarch went too far. God cherishes the common people profoundly. Is he willing to abandon the law of nature and let a person be presumptuous above the common people? He won’t do so.”

After the death of Jin Dao-Gong, Jin Ping-Gong (晋平公) ascended the throne. One day, Jin Ping-Gong banqueted ministers. Shi Kuang was playing a seven-stringed musical instrument (七弦琴) beside him. Ping-Gong was in drink, and laughingly said to the ministers, “No one is happier than a monarch, because the words of a monarch cannot be disobeyed.”

Shi Kuang was infuriated at the words. He held the musical instrument in his arms and hit Jin Ping-Gong. Ping-Gong felt amazed and hurriedly dodged. The instrument hit the wall and broke. Ping-Gong wiped the cold sweat from his brow, and angrily asked Shi Kuang, “Taishi, who did you want to hit?” Shi Kuang answered, “A contemptible man talked nonsense beside me, so I wanted to hit him.”

Ping-Gong felt embarrassed and said, “Do you mean me?” Shi Kuang said indignantly, “Your words were not the words of a monarch.” The guards of Ping-Gong thought that the action of Shi Kuang endangered the safety of their monarch, so they said to Ping-Gong and suggested to punish Shi Kuang. Jin Ping-Gong refused the suggestion, and he said, “Don’t blame him. I should remember the lesson.”

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