A Man of Modesty Will Extend His Good Fortune
(Clearwisdom.net) Editor's Note: The following story is about the Duke of Zhou from the Zhou Dynasty (1122 B.C. - 256 B.C.), known as one of the most virtuous rulers in the history of China.
The Duke of Zhou (or Zhou Gong in Chinese Pinyin) was the brother of King Wu of Zhou in ancient China. Only three years after defeating the Shang Dynasty, King Wu died, leaving the task of consolidating the dynasty's power to the Duke of Zhou. The Duke of Zhou fought with the rulers of eastern states who joined with the remnants of the Shang to oppose the Zhou. The east was conquered in five years. According to Chinese legend, he annotated the 64 hexagrams and completed the classic I Ching, established the Rites of Zhou, and created the Yayue of Chinese classical music. In 2004, Chinese archaeologists reported that they may have found the tomb complex of Zhou Gong in Qishan County, Shaanxi Province.]
The Duke of Zhou assisted both King Wu and King Cheng (King Wu's young son) in ruling the Zhou Dynasty by virtue. He established proper codes of conduct for everyday life. In fact, he was revered as a saint by Confucius. King Cheng of Zhou once offered to give him the state of Lu, but he refused to accept the gift. King Cheng then decided to give the state of Lu to Bo Qin, the third son of the Duke of Zhou. When Bo Qin was about to leave for the state of Lu, the Duke of Zhou advised him solemnly, "You must never be proud or willful and you must never give in to your worldly desires. You must be modest at all times because that's the only way to rule your estate well and extend your good fortune."
Then the Duke of Zhou told Bo Qin, "Go. Don't act proud because you have been given the state of Lu as your estate. Don't neglect your manners when you are with the intellectuals there. I am a son of King Wen, a brother of King Wu and an uncle of King Cheng. I also shoulder the important responsibility of assisting King Cheng in ruling the country. I am in a very high position by many standards, but I continue to be frequently interrupted by guests when I am shampooing my hair or when I am having dinner just like the old days. In order to receive visitors properly, I often have to come out of the bathroom three times when I shampoo my hair or stop eating dinner three times a night. Nevertheless, I still worry about being rusty at social etiquette with intellectuals. I was told that a highly virtuous man will attain glory and honor if he is modest, that a man of many estates will have the richest soils in his estates if he regulates his desires and leads a frugal life, that a man of high stature will advance to higher places if he acts modestly, that a general with a large army will triumph if he knows fear, that a smart and intelligent man will learn from other people if he acts like he knows nothing and that a learned man with a photographic memory will expand his breath of knowledge if he is modest. These are the virtues of modesty. A wealthy ruler who owns the Four Seas stands to lose everything, including his own life, if he is not modest. King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty and Jie of the Xia Dynasty were both killed because of their arrogance. How could you not be modest or discreet? According to I Ching (The Book of Changes), there is a way to protect the world if you comply with it in a big way, to protect a nation if you comply with it in a medium way and to protect oneself if you comply with it in a small way. That is modesty. Heaven and Earth favor modest men and despise arrogant ones. Ghosts, spirits and mankind all loath arrogant men and take delight in modest men. You must bear my words in mind! You must never neglect your manners with the intellectuals because you have been given the state of Lu as your estate!"
The Duke of Zhou also told his sons, "A virtuous gentleman may be as strong as a bull, but he will never attempt to wrestle with a bull to prove that. A virtuous gentleman may be as fast as a horse, but he will never race with a horse to prove that. A virtuous gentleman may be as wise as a highly learned man, but he will never rival a learned man to prove that."
There are numerous benefits of being modest. A man who treats others with modesty will win himself even more respect. A man who regulates his material desires and lives a frugal lifestyle will bring himself peace in the long run. A modest man will rise to higher places. A modest man is more likely to triumph. A modest man who does not brag about himself will be a role model. A modest man will broaden his horizon. Today's people will also benefit from being modest in the way they conduct themselves, interact with others, and learns new things.