When Confucius was in the Ch'u State, the eccentric Chieh Yü passed his door, saying, "O phœnix, O phœnix, how has thy virtue fallen!—
- By thus issuing forth out of due season.
unable to wait for the coming years or to go back into the past.
- When you might be, or might have been, of use. The idea conveyed is that Confucianism was unsuited to its age. See Lun-yü, ch. xviii.
If Tao prevails on earth, prophets will fulfil their mission. If Tao does not prevail, they will but preserve themselves. At the present day they will but just escape.
"The honours of this world are light as feathers, yet none estimate them at their true value. The misfortunes of this life are weighty as the earth itself, yet none can keep out of their reach. No more, no more, seek to influence by virtue. Beware, beware, move cautiously on! O ferns, O ferns, wound not my steps! Through my tortuous journey wound not my feet! Hills suffer from the trees they produce. Fat burns by its own combustibility. Cinnamon trees furnish food: therefore they are cut down. The lacquer tree is felled for use. All men know the use of useful things; but they do not know the use of useless things."