Stories from Ancient China: Fulfilling a Worthy Goal with a Modest and Unselfish Attitude

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Zheng Xuan (A.D. 127-200), also known as Kang Cheng, was from Gaomi, East Han (now situated in Gaomi County, Shandong Province). He was a renowned scholar, one who was well versed in the past and present history. He began to write explanatory notes on the ancient, historical classic Chun Qiu- Zuo's version1 but never completed his work.

One day, Zheng Xuan went on an outing. During his travels he happened to encounter a man named Fu Zishen, who was lodging at the same inn. Neither had known each other previously.

Standing outside the inn near a wagon, Fu Zishen talked to another person about his work on Chun Qiu - Zuo's version. Zheng Xuan listened attentively and realized that the majority of Fu Zishen's ideas on Chun Qiu - Zuo's version were similar to his own.

Zhen Xuan then walked over and said to Fu Zishen, "I have been working to put together commentaries on Chun Qiu - Zuo's version for quite a while but have not completed my work yet. After hearing your thoughts, I found most of them are similar to mine. I will give you the part of the work I have done."

Fu Zishen eventually completed the book: Chun Qiu - with Fu's Commentaries.

Zheng Xuan and Fu Zishen were contemporary scholars, noted for their knowledge of ancient classics and history. They had never met each other prior to the above encounter. But, on finding Fu's ideas so similar to his own, Zheng Xuan unconditionally offered support by giving away his own completed work, hence enabling Fu to complete the mammoth task. This assistance brought Fu much fame later on. Zheng Xuan's unselfish and modest attitude, which helped Fu Zishen to fulfill the goal, won people's great respect and admiration.


(1) Chun Qiu (Spring - Autumn), an historic classic, said to be first compiled and written by Confucius (A.D. 551-479). Zuo's version was more popular.

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