When Confucius Received A Present

Confucius had a poor neighbor. One day, the poor man cooked food by an earthenware. He tasted the food, and thought it was very delicious. He thought he should let his wise neighbor taste so delicious food. So the poor man put much of the food into an earthen bowl, and presented it to Confucius. Confucius accepted the present delightedly as accepting a treasure. Zilu, one of his students, felt surprised and said, “The earthen bowl is cheap, and the food is not generous in fact. Why are you so delighted?” Confucius said, “If a man likes to advise others, he will often be worried about his monarch. And if a man gets delicious food, he will remember his parents first. I feel happy. It is not because how generous the food is. The real reason is that, when the man thinks his food is delicious, he can remember me first and he is glad to give it to me.”

Confucius went to Chu State and propagated his thoughts. One day, a fisherman brought a fish to him, but Confucius refused to accept it. The fisherman said, “Now the weather is hot, and the market is distant, so I am worried that no one will buy the fish. It is better for giving the fish to a gentleman than discarding it into muck. So I come here and present it to you.” Confucius heard these words, and he did obeisance two times for accepting the fish. He let his students make clean sweep, and he wanted to use this fish as a sacrificial offering for his ancestors. One of his students didn’t understand him, so he asked Confucius, “The fisherman even thought the fish might be discarded, but now you regard it as a sacrificial offering. Why?” Confucius said smilingly, “If a man treasures his gains but he is glad to donate the gains to others, he has a kind heart. Since the fish is a gift from a kindhearted man, why not offer it to our ancestors?”

One day, Confucius visited Lu Ai-Gong who was the monarch of Lu State. Lu Ai-Gong gave him a peach and some rice. Confucius ate the rice first and then he ate the peach. All of other people who were present felt very surprised, and soon they couldn’t refrain from laughing. Lu Ai-Gong told Confucius, “The rice is for wiping the down of the peach, not for eating.” Confucius smiled and said, “I know, too. However, I think rice is more valuable, because it belongs to one of the most important sacrificial offerings. Peaches can’t be used as sacrificial offerings, so they are valueless. It is not proper to waste valuable things for valueless things.”

Confucius was such a man. Sometimes he seemed to be pedantic and funny, but in fact his brain was full of wisdom. He was not callous but likable.

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