Yielding to Someone More Competent Is a Blessing

The Cultural Editorial Group

PureInsight | October 14, 2007

[PureInsight.org] During the Spring and Autumn Period, Qin Mu Gong, King of the State of Qin, sent merchants to transport salt with many oxen and carts. One merchant bought a slave, Bai Lixi, with black sheep skin and asked him to travel with the salt cart to the State of Qin.

When the salt carts arrived, Qin Mu Gong came out to inspect them. He found all the oxen were tired and skinny except for the one that belonged to Bai Lixi, which was very strong and well-fed.

Qin Mu Gong asked, "It is a long and dangerous journey and the salt is very heavy. How come your ox looks so good?"

Bai Lixi replied, "I let it eat regularly and treated it nicely on the road. Where the road was treacherous, I personally took care of him. That is about all I did."

Mu Gong heard that and knew that Bai Lixi was a gentleman. He immediately asked the servant give him a bath and let him put on some nice clothes. Sure enough, Bai Lixi looked handsome, refined, and no longer a lowly slave.

Qin Mu Gong had a nice conversation with Bai and even forgot his own fatigue.

One day, Qin Mu Gong was discussing government affairs with Gong Sunzhi. Sunzhi did not feel quite right and asked, "Your Majesty, you are clearheaded and have very good judgment today. Are you seeing a sage?"

Qin Mu Gong said joyfully, "Yes, I really like Bai Lixi. He is similar to a sage."

Gong Sunzhi went home and brought a wild goose as a gift.

He said to Mu Gong, "I come to congratulate you that our state has a sage."

Qin Mu Gong gladly accepted the gift.

The following day, Gong Sunzhi wanted to give his senior executive position to Bai. He said, "The State of Qin is located in a remote area and most people are uneducated. That is a fundamental problem and may cause the collapse of the kingdom. I am not as capable as Bai Lixi. I would like to give my position to him."

Mu Gong declined his resignation.

Gong Sunzhi said, "Your Majesty, you found someone so wise without any recommendation and it is your blessing. When I see someone who is talented and have an opportunity to give up my position that is my blessing. Now both you and I are blessed. Please let me get some advantage from this."

Qin Mu Gong still declined his offer.

Gong Sunzhi said again, "I am not very competent, so take this position. If the king loses the system for governing because of me that will be my fault.  Utilizing good people and retiring the less competent ones shows the greatness of Your Majesty. If I continue to occupy this position, I will hurt your virtue. If you refuse to accept my resignation, I have no choice but to run away and go into exile."

Qin Mu Gong could not help but accept his resignation and let Bai Lixi become the senior executive and Gong Sunzhi the assistant

Nowadays how many people can behave like Qin Mu Gong who overlooked Bai's status and chose him for his talent only? Even more admirable is Gong Sunzhi who was willing to give up a high ranking job and generous salary in order to recommend Bai Lixi. Putting the national interests ahead of personal interests is something indeed remarkable. And how many politicians can do that?

(From "Shuo Yuan")

Translated from:

Add new comment