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13: CHAPTER XI. Wrong Notions about Happiness

CHAPTER XI. Wrong Notions about Happiness (Fu-hsu). 

People universally believe that he who does good, meets with happiness, and that the evil-doers are visited with misfortune. That Heaven sends down happiness or misfortune in response to man's doings. That the rewards graciously given by the sovereigns to the virtuous, are visible, whereas the requital of Heaven and Earth is not always apparent. There is nobody, high or low, clever or imbecile, who would disagree with this view. Only because people see such deeds recorded in books, and witness that sometimes the good really become happy, they come to believe this, and take it as self-evident. Sometimes also sages and wise men, with a view to inducing people to do good, do not hesitate to assert that it must be so, thus showing that virtue gets its reward. Or those who hold this view, have themselves experienced that felicity arrived at a certain juncture. A thorough investigation, however, will con- vince us that happiness is not given by Heaven as a favour. 

King Hui of Ch'u, 1 when eating salad, found a leech upon his plate, and forthwith swallowed it. He thereupon felt a pain in his stomach, and could eat nothing. On his premier asking him, how he had got this disease, he replied: — "Eating salad, I found a leech, I thought that, if I scolded those responsible for it, but did not punish them, I would disregard the law, and not keep up my dignity. Therefore, I could not allow my subjects to get wind of the matter. Had I, on the other hand, reproved and chastised the defaulters, strict law would have required the death of all the cooks and butlers. To that I could not make up my mind. Fearing, lest my attendants should perceive the leech, 1 promptly swallowed it." 

The premier rose from his seat, bowed twice, and congratulated the king, saying, " I have been told that Heaven is impartial, and that virtue alone is of any avail. You have benevolence and virtue, for which Heaven will reward you. Your sickness will do you no great harm." 

1 487-43UB.C. 

Wrong Notions about Happiness. 1 57 

The same evening, when the king withdrew, the leech came out, and an ailment of the heart and stomach of which he had been suffering for a long while, was cured at the same time. Could not this be considered an evidence of Heaven's partiality for virtue? — No. This is idle talk. 

If King Hui swallowed the leech, he was far from being what a sovereign should be, and for unbecoming deeds Heaven does not give marks of its favour. King Hui could not bear to reproach the guilty with the leech for fear, lest his cooks and butlers should all have to suffer death according to law. A ruler of a State can mete out rewards and punishments at pleasure, and pardoning is a prerogative of his. Had King Hui reprimanded all for the leech found in his salad, the cooks and butlers would have had to submit to law, but afterwards the king was at liberty not to allow that the lives of men were taken merely for a culinary offence. Thus to forgive, and to remit the penalty, would have been an act of great mercy. If the cooks had received their punishment, but were not put to death, they would have completely changed for the future. The king condoning a small offence, and sparing the lives of the poor devils, would have felt all right, and not been sick.  But he did nothing of that sort. He ate perforce something obnoxious to his health. Allowing his butlers to remain ignorant of their fault, he lost his royal dignity, because he did not repress their bad conduct. This was objectionable in the first place. 

If cooks and butlers in preparing a dish do not make it sweet or sour enough, or if an atom of dust no bigger than a louse, hardly perceptible or visible to the eye, falls into the salad, if in such a case a sovereign in fixing a penalty takes into consideration the mind of the offender, and therefore abstains from divulging his fault, one may well speak of clemency. Now, a leech is an inch or more long and 1/10 inch or more broad. In a salad a one-eyed man must see it. The servants of the king showed an utter want of respect, taking no care to cleanse the salad. Theirs was a most serious offence. For King Hui not to reprimand them was a second mistake. 

In a salad there must be no leech. If so, one does not eat it, but throws it to the ground. Provided one is anxious, lest the attendants should discover it, he may hide it in his bosom. Thus the leech can escape observation. Why must one eat it coûte-que- coûte? If something uneatable is by inadvertence in a salad so, that it can be concealed, to eat it by force is a third mistake. 

158 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

If Heaven had rewarded an unbecoming act, an unworthy person would have been the recipient of Heaven's grace. The inability to reprove for the sake of a leech is, in the eyes of the world, something very excellent. Now, there is many an excellent man, whose deeds are similar to the swallowing of a leech. If for swallowing a leech Heaven grants liberation from sickness, excellent men must always be without ailings. The virtue of this kind of men is, however, small only and not to be compared with the perfect character of the true sages and their guileless demeanour.  There are many sages who would push their kindness of heart so far as to put up with human faults. Yet the Emperor Wu Wang was of a weak health, and Confucius seriously ill. Why has Heaven been so inconsistent in the distribution of its favour? 

It may be that after King Hui had swallowed the leech, it came out again in a natural way of itself. Whenever anybody eats a living thing, it will inevitably die. The stomach is hot inside. When the leech is gulped down, it does not die instantaneously, but owing to the high temperature of the stomach it begins to move. Hence the pain in the stomach. After a short while, the leech dies, and the pain in the stomach ceases also. 

It is in the nature of leeches to suck blood. King Hui's heart and bowel complaint was probably nothing but a constipation of blood. Therefore this constipation was cured along with the death of the blood-sucking animal, just as a men suffering from the skin disease known as " rat " can be cured by eating a cat, because it is natural to cats to eat rats. The various things overcome one another. Remedies and antidotes are given on the same principal.  Therefore it cannot be a matter for surprise that by eating a leech a disease should be removed. Living things, when eaten, will die. Dead, they invariably come out in a natural way. Consequently, the re-appearance of the leech cannot be an act of special grace. 

The premier seeing the kindheartedness of King Hui and knowing that the leech after entering the stomach must come forth again, when dead, therefore bowed twice, and congratulated the king upon his not being injured by his disease. He thereby showed his power of forethought, and pleased his sovereign. His utterance is in the same style as that of Tse Wei, 1 who said that a star 

1 Astrologer at, the court of Duke Ching of Sung (515-451) who venerated him like a god. 

Wrong Notions about Happiness. 159 

would shift its place,1 and of the "Great Diviner,"2 who asserted that the earth was going to move. 

A family in Sung had for three generations never swerved from the path of virtue. Without any apparent reason a black cow belonging to this family dropped a white calf, Confucius was asked, and said that it was a lucky omen, and that the calf ought to be sacrificed to the spirits, which was done accordingly. After one year, the father of the family became blind without a reason.  The cow then produced a white calf a second time. The father sent his son to ask Confucius, who replied that it was a propitious portent, and that the animal must be immolated, which was done again. After a year, the son lost his eye-sight, nobody knew why.  Subsequently, Ch'u attacked Sung, and besieged its capital. At that time the besieged were in such a distress, that they exchanged their sons, and ate them, breaking their bones, which they used as firewood.3 It was but for their blindness that father and son were not called upon to mount guard on the city wall. When the enemy's army raised the siege, father and son could see again.  This is believed to be a proof of how the spirits requited great deserts, but it is idle talk: — 

If father and son of that family in Sung did so much good, that the spirits rewarded them, why must they first make them blind, and afterwards restore their sight? Could they not protect them, if they had not been blind and always seeing? Being unable to help men, if not blind, the spirits would also be powerless to protect the blind. 

Had the two commanders of Sung and Ch'u made such a furious onslaught, that the weapons were blunted, the dead bodies covered with blood, the warriors captivated, or killed never to come back, then blindness might have afforded an excuse for not going to the front, and that might have been construed as a divine protection. But before the armies of Sung and Ch'u came to blows, Hua Yuan and Tse Fan 4 made a covenant, and went back. The two forces returned home unscathed, and the blades of the swords, and the points of the arrows were not blunted by use. The duty 

1 The planet Mars (cf. p. 127). 

2 The "Great Diviner" of Ch'i, on whom vid. p. 112. 

3 This fact is mentioned in the Shi-chi chap. 38, p. 14v. The siege took place from 595—594 b.c. The whole story seems to be a quotation from Lieh Tse VlII, 6v.  or from Huai Kan Tse XVIII, 6 who narrate it with almost the same words. 

4 Hua Yuan was the general of Sung, Tse Fan that of Ch'u. Both armies being equally exhausted by famine, the siege was raised. 

160 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

of mounting the city wall did not entail death, consequently the two good men could not have obtained the divine protection, while this duty was being performed. In case they had not been blind at that time, they would not have died either. The blind and the not blind all got off. What benefit did those good men derive then from their blindness, for which the spirits were responsible ?1 

Were the families of the blind alone well off, when the State of Sung was short of provisions? All had to exchange their sons with the families which mounted guard on the wall, and they split their bones. If in such straits such good people alone were still blind and unable to see, the spirits in giving their aid have failed to discriminate justly between the good and the wicked. 

Father and son had probably been blinded by exposure to cold wind, a mere chance. When the siege was over, they owed their cure to chance also. The world knowing that they had done good works, that they had offered two white calves in sacrifice, that during the war between Sung and Ch'u they alone had not mounted the wall, and that after the siege they regained their sight, thought this to be the recompense of virtue, and the protection granted by the spirits. 

When the minister of Ch'u, Sun Shu Ao 2 was a boy, he beheld a two-headed snake, which he killed and buried. He then went home, and cried before his mother. She asked him, what was the matter. He replied: — "I have heard say that he who sees a two-headed snake must die. Now, when I went out, I saw a two-headed snake. I am afraid that I must leave you and die, hence my tears." Upon his mother inquiring, where the snake was now, he rejoined: --- " For fear lest others should see it later, I have killed it outright, and buried it." 

The mother said: --- "I have heard that Heaven will recompense hidden virtue. You are certainly not going to die, for Heaven must reward you." And, in fact. Sun Shu Ao did not die, but, later on, became prime minister of Ch'u. For interring one snake he received two favours. This makes it clear that Heaven rewards good actions. 

1 According to Lieh Tse and Huai Nan Tse the two blind men were, in fact, saved from death by their blindness. Lieh Tse loc. cit. adds that over half of the defenders of the city wall were killed, and Huai Nan Tse says that all except the two blind men were massacred by the besiegers. Wang Chung follows the Shi-chi in his narrative of the salvation of the city. 

2 6th cent. B.C. 

Wrong Notions about Happiness. 161 

No, it is idle talk. That he who sees a two-headed snake, must die, is a common superstition, and that Heaven gives happiness as a reward for hidden virtue, a common prejudice. Sun Shu Ao, convinced of the superstition, buried the snake, and his mother, addicted to the prejudice, firmly relied on the heavenly retaliation.  This would amount to nothing else than that life and death were not depending on fate, but on the death of a snake. 

T'ien Wen 1 of Ch'i, Prince of Mêng Ch'ang, was born on the 5th day of the 5th moon. 2 His father T'ien Ying expostulated with his mother saying, why do you rear him? She replied: — " Why do you not wish to rear a iifth month child?' T'ien Ying said: --- " A fifth month son will become as high as a door, and kill both his father and mother." She rejoined: --- "Does the human fate depend on Heaven or on doors? If on Heaven, you have nothing to complain of, if on a door, he must become as high as a door.  Who ever attained to that?"3

Later on, T'ien Wen grew as high as a door, but T'ien Ying did not die. Thus the apprehension to rear a child in the fifth mouth proved unfounded. The disgust at the sight of a two- headed snake is like the repugnance to rear a child of the fifth month. Since the father of such a child did not die, it follows that a two-headed snake cannot bring misfortune either. 

From this point of view, he who sees a two-headed snake, does not die, as a matter of course, but not on account of having buried a snake. If for interring one snake one receives two favours, how many must one obtain for ten snakes? Sun Shu Ao by burying a snake, lest other persons should look at it. showed an excellent character. The works of excellent men do not merely consist in burying snakes. Sun Shu Ao may have accomplished many other meritorious acts, before he buried the snake. Endowed with a good nature by Heaven, people do good under all circumstances. Such well deserving persons ought to see propitious things, instead of that he unexpectedly falls in with a snake that kills man. Was perhaps Sun Shu Ao a wicked man, before he beheld the snake, and did Heaven intend to kill him, but condoned his guilt, and spared his life upon seeing him burying the snake? 

1 Died 279 b.c. 

2 This day is still now regarded as very unlucky in many respects, although it be the Great Summer Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival. On the reasons cf. De Groot, Les Fêtes annuelles á Émoui. Vol. I, p. 320. 

3 A quotation from the Shi-chi, chap. 75, p. 2v. 

Lun-Hêng. 11 

162 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

A stone is hard from the time of its formation, a fragrant flower has its perfume from the time, when it came out. If it be said that Sun Shu Ao's virtue became manifest, when he buried the snake, then he would not have received it from Heaven at his birth. 

The Confucianist Tung Wu Hsin and the Mêhist Ch'an Tse 1 met, and spoke about Tao. Ch'an Tse extolled the Mêhist theory of the help of the spirits,2 and as an instance adduced duke Mu of Ch'in. His excellent qualities were so brilliant that God granted him an age of ninety years. 3

Ch'an Tse gets into trouble with Yao and Shun, who were not favoured with a long life, and Chieh and Chou, who did not die young. Yao, Shun, Chieh, and Chou belong to remote antiquity, but in modern times likewise duke Mu of Ch'in 4 and duke Wên of Chin 5 are difficult to account for. 

The posthumous name expresses man's actions. What he has done during his life-time, appears in his posthumous title.  Mu is an expression for error and disorder,'' Wen means virtue and goodness. Did Heaven reward error and disorder with long years, and take the life of him who practised virtue and benevolence ? 

The reign of Duke Mu did not surpass that of Duke Wen of Chin, and the latter's posthumous title was better than that of Duke Mu. But Heaven did not extend Wen of Chins life, he only granted longer years to Duke Mu."^ Thus the retribution 

1 A scholar of the Han time. 

2 Demons and spirits who reward the virtuous, and punish the perverse, play an important part in the doctrine of Mê Ti. (Cf. Faher, Micius, Elberfeld 1877, p. 91.) 

3 The parallel passage in chap. XXVII speaks of nineteen extra years, with which the Duke was rewarded. 

4 658-619 B.C. 

5 634-626 B.C. 

6 The Mu in the Duke of Ch'in's name = 穆 does not mean : - error and disorder, it signifies: --- majestic, grand, admirable. But this Mu is often replaced by the character 缪, which has the bad meaning given by Wang Ch'ung. I presume that in the original text of the Lun-hêng the latter character was used, whereas we now read the other. In the parallel passage chap. XXVII 缪公 is actually written, and so it is in the Shi-chi chap. 5, p. !)v. et seq. 

7 The Shi-chi knows nothing of such a miracle. Duke Mu was a great warrior as was Duke Wên, but the latter's rule is described by Sse Ma Ch'ien as very enlightened and beneficial. (Cf. on Duke Mu: - Chavannes, Mém. Historiques.  Vol. 11, p. 25-4t5 and on Duke Wên. Vol. IV, p. 291-308.) 

Wrong Notions about Happiness. 163 

of Heaven would appear as capricious and perverse as Duke Mu himself was. 

Under heaven the good men are few, and the bad ones many.  The good follow right principles, the bad infringe Heaven's commands. Yet the lives of bad men are not short therefore, nor the years of the good ones prolonged. How is it that Heaven does not arrange that the virtuous always enjoy a life of a hundred years, and that the wicked die young, or through their guilt? 

164 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical.