Exercise Self-restraint, Leave Benefits to Others
(Clearwisdom.net) Emperor Guangwu Di (6 B.C.-57 A.D.), the first emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, established an advanced institute for the teachings of Confucianism. The institute's principal learned teachers were called Boshi. Among these teachers was Zhen Yu, a clean-hearted, upright scholar who had few desires and who often modestly declined personal benefits.
At the end of every year, the emperor routinely issued an order to award each Boshi with a lamb. The official in charge of distributing lambs hesitated about how to get the job done because the lambs varied greatly in size: some were big, some were small, some were fat, and some were thin. So he suggested to either kill the lambs to divide the mutton or to draw lots on the lambs.
Hearing his words, Zhen Yu stepped forward, and directly asked for the smallest and thinnest lamb.All the other teachers felt ashamed about themselves on seeing this. Since then, there was never an argument about how to divide lambs.
Emperor Guangwu Di heard about this, and he appreciated Zhen Yu's manner very much. Once, he inquired specifically about Zhen Yu at the royal court. "Where is that thin-lamb Boshi?" he asked. From then on, Zhen Yu got the nickname, "Thin-lamb Boshi," and was highly praised among government officials and citizens alike. Not long afterwards, he was promoted to the position of Teacher to the Princes, due to his virtue and talent.
It is virtuous and good self-cultivation to be willing to lose benefits or to restrain oneself and let others gain. Only those with upright spirits and clean behavior could do this. Later generations of Chinese have called those who can restrain themselves and let others gain benefits over themselves, "Thin-lamb Boshi."