Story from History: Righteous People Don't Seek Rewards

PureInsight | October 1, 2006

[]  Mo Zi,
also named Ju, was the founder of Moist School of thought in the Spring
and Autumn and Warring States Periods in China. He advocated harmony
and equality between people and opposed invasion and war.  Mo Zi
wished to save the world from danger and uphold righteousness.  He
believed that only righteousness could benefit people and
nations.  Therefore, he traveled around the states as an ascetic
monk.  He tried very hard not only to advocate his doctrine and
thoughts, but also to stop any unrighteous things from happening.

A famous carpenter named Gong Shuban made for the state of Chu a ladder
to scale a city wall. The king of Chu planned to use the weapon to
attack the state of Song. At that time, Mo Zi was living in the state
of Lu. Upon hearing the news, he immediately set out on a journey to
the capital city of Chu.  He walked ten days and nights to get
there. He then called on Gong Shuban. Mo Zi told Gong Shuban, "Someone
from the North insulted me. I want you to kill him for me.  Please
allow me to pay you 10 grams of gold as the reward."

Gong Shuban was not happy and said, "I act in a righteous way and never kill people at will."

Mo Zi stood up, bowed to him, and said, "I heard that you had made a
scaling ladder to attack the state of Song. What wrongdoing has the
state of Song committed? The state of Chu already has vast lands but
insufficient population.  You are going to sacrifice your
insufficient population in order to gain extra land, which you already
have too much to start with. It is unwise to do this.  The state
of Song hasn't done anything wrong that deserves the attack. It is not
compassionate to invade Song.  You understand the principle but
you don't try to stop the unrighteous thing.  It is
unpatriotic.  You say that you've never killed a person at will,
but you are going to kill every single person in Song. You are indeed
an unwise man."  

Gong Shuban agreed with what Mo Zi had said. But he had already
promised to help the king of Chu to attack Song. Upon Mo Zi's request,
he agreed to introduce Mo Zi to the king of Chu.

When he met with the King of Chu, Mo Zi talked to him about the
cardinal principles of righteousness. The king agreed with the
principles. But he still said, "Since Gong Shuban has made the scaling
ladder for me, I must attack Song."  

Mo Zi took off his belt and placed it in a circle like a city
wall.  He used some small pieces of wooden blocks to represent
tools to guard the city.  He asked Gong Shuban to hold a mock war
game with him. Gong Shuban tried several strategies and tactics to
mount attacks. But Mo Zi was able to repel each attack. Gong Shuban had
to admit defeat in the end.  

But he said, "I know a new tactic to defeat you, but I don't want to tell you."  

Mo Zi said, "I already know about your new tactic, but I don't want to tell you either."  

The King asked them what they had been talking about.  Mo Zi said,
"Gong Shuban wants to kill me.  If I die, he thinks there is no
one who can help Song defend itself. However, I have sent three hundred
students of mine to Song. They've already taken up weapons to defense
the city.  They are well prepared for your attack.  So even
if you kill me, you cannot kill all those who know about my defense
tactics.  As a result, Chu still won't be able to defeat Song."

Mo Zi successfully dissuaded the king of Chu from attacking Song. 
He then set on the journey back to Lu.  On his way home, it was
heavily raining when he passed by the state of Song. He wanted to seek
shelter from the rain in the city. But the guards wouldn't let him
in.  Nobody there knew that he had just saved Song from
disaster.  The people in the state of Song owed Mo Zi a huge debt,
but it never occurred to Mo Zi to seek reward from Song.

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