TSE-CHAN was Minister in Cheng, and governed for three years, and governed well.1
The good people complied with his injunctions, and the bad were in awe of his prohibitory laws. So Cheng was governed, and the princes were afraid of it.
Tse-Chan had an elder brother, Kung-Sun-Chow, and a younger, Kung-Sun-Mu. The former was fond of feasting and the latter of gallantry. In the house of Kung-Sun-Chow a thousand barrels of wine were stored, and yeast in piled-up heaps.
Within a hundred paces from the door the smell of drugs and liquor offended people s noses. He was so much under the influence of wine that he ignored the feeling of remorse, was unconscious of the safe and dangerous parts of the path of life ; what was present or wanting in his
[1 The famous minister of Cheng, Kung-sun-chiao, who lived about B.C. 550.]
house, the near or remote degrees of relationship,1 the various degrees of relationship, the joy of living and the sadness of death.
Water, fire and swords might almost touch his person, and he would be unaware of it. Within the house of Kung-Sun-Mu there was a compound of about thirty or forty houses, which he filled with damsels of exquisite beauty. So much was he captivated by their charms, that he neglected his relatives and friends, broke off all family intercourse, and retiring into his inner court turned night into day.
Within three months he only came forth once, and yet he still did not feel contented.
Was there a pretty girl in the neighbourhood, he would try to win her with bribes or allure ments, and only desisted with the impossibility of obtaining his desires.
Tse-Chan pondering over these things, stealthily betook himself to Teng-hsi to consult him, and said :
"I have heard that the care for one s own person has its influence on the family, and the care taken of a family influences the state. That is to say, starting from the nearest one reaches to what is distant. I have taken care of my kingdom, but my own family is in disorder. Per haps this way is not the right one. What am I
[1 The nine degrees of relationship are counted from the great-great-grandfather to the great-great-grandson.]
to do ? what measures am I to take to save these two men ?"
Teng-hsi replied :
"I have wondered for a long while at you. But I did not dare to speak to you first. Why do you not always control them ? Administer exhortations based on the importance of life and nature, or admonitions regarding the sublimity of righteousness and proper conduct."
Tse-Chan did as Teng-hsi had advised, and taking an opportunity of seeing his brothers said to them :
"That in which man is superior to beasts and birds are his mental faculties. Through them he gets righteousness and propriety, and so glory and rank fall to his share. You are only moved by what excites your sense, and indulge only in licentious desires, endangering your lives and natures.
"Hear my words. Repent in the morning, and in the evening you will have already gained the wage that will support you."
Chow and Mu said :
"Long ago we knew it and made our choice.
"Nor had we to wait for your instructions to enlighten us.
"It is very difficult to preserve life, and easy to come by one s death. Yet who would think of awaiting death, which comes so easily, on account of the difficulty of preserving life ?
"You value proper conduct and righteousness in order to excel before others, and you do violence to your feelings and nature in striving for glory. That to us appears to be worse than death.
"Our only fear is lest, wishing to gaze our fill at all the beauties of this one life, and to exhaust all the pleasures of the present years, the repletion of the belly should prevent us from drinking what our palate delights in, or the slackening of our strength not allow us to revel with pretty women.
"We have no time to trouble about bad reputations or mental dangers. Therefore for you to argue with us and disturb our minds merely because you surpass others in ability to govern, and to try and allure us with promises of glory and appointments, is indeed shameful and deplorable.
"But we will now settle the question with you.
"See now. If anybody knows how to regulate external things, the things do not of necessity become regulated, and his body has still to toil and labour. But if anybody knows how to regulate internals, the things go on all right, and the mind obtains peace and rest.
"Your system of regulating external things will do temporarily and for a single kingdom, but it is not in harmony with the human heart, while our method of regulating internals can be extended to the whole universe, and there would be no more princes and ministers.
"We always desired to propagate this doctrine of ours, and now you would teach us yours."
Tse-Chan in his perplexity found no answer.
Later on he met and informed Teng-hsi.
Teng-hsi said :
"You are living together with real men without knowing it.
"Who calls you wise ? Ch-eng has been governed by chance, and without merit of yours."