As Confucius was travelling through many regions of China, he ran out of food in the Chen and Cai areas. Facing such difficulties, he still sang, played music and composed songs between two pillars.
His student Zi Lu said, "You still sing even under such circumstances. Is this a requirement for being polite and respectful?" Confucius didn't answer him until he finished the song. He said, "Zi Lu, under such circumstances, a noble person plays music to eliminate his arrogance while a wicked person plays music to eliminate his fear. Are you following me without truly knowing me?" Confucius gave him a shield and asked him to dance using it as a prop. After dancing three times, Zi Lu calmed down.
Zi Gong said, "Your cultivation way achieves a very high level. That's why it's not easy for ordinary people to accept. Can you lower your standard a little?" Confucius said, "Zi Gong, a good farmer is good at planting, but this does not guarantee that he will have a good harvest. A good craftsperson can do an excellent job, but not everyone will be pleased with his work. A noble man promotes righteousness and hopes all people will follow the right path and the heavenly principles. How can he lower the standard to please worldly people? If you give up your righteous path and instead are only concerned about how to be accepted by everyone, it is because your goal is not far-sighted and high."
Yan Hui said, "Your cultivation way achieves a very high level. That's why it's not easy for ordinary people to accept. Despite this, you still try your best to promote the most righteous path and save people with compassion and virtue. Although you encounter difficulties and some people can't accept you due to their jealousy, it doesn't affect your way. This is precisely why the righteous path is precious. Only a noble man can remain unmoved under all circumstances. It is our shame if we don't cultivate along a righteous path. It is their shame if we promote a righteous path and people don't accept it." Confucius said approvingly, "It is marvelous that you have such insight."
At that moment, the breeze brought the fragrance of flowers. Confucius followed the fragrance and found a field of blue orchids in a deep valley. They were beautiful and elegant. They grow here unknown to anyone, but their fragrance still overflows. Confucius said to his students, "The blue orchids live in a deep valley. They don't stop spreading their fragrance just because no one notices. They don't change their nature under any circumstances. They are righteous, strong and pure. They are truly noble!" He then wrote an article "Praising the Orchid" and composed accompanying music. His students were all encouraged and inspired. Confucius continued, "The principle of welcoming adversity is like the process of going from the cold winter to the warm spring. Only a person with virtue can understand this. Others cannot comprehend it." Zi Gong asked, "Why can't some people understand it?" Confucius said, "People who don't have goals are short-sighted. They don't believe in anything that they cannot see with their eyes. However, those who have virtue and noble goals will not be moved by their environment because they have principles in their hearts. Therefore they are far-sighted and wise. Often times they use adversity to their advantage." His students were all encouraged, and the next day their problem was solved.
Confucius persistently followed his principles throughout his life. He promoted "Follow the heavenly principles and righteous ways, and govern with compassion," "Try your best and follow God's will." A noble man has determination and firmly believes in what he does. Noble men have noble goals and dare to safeguard the truth, take social responsibility, and have a mission. They will awaken many people with their compassion.
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