Divinely-inspired Culture: Moral Integrity Without Greed
(Clearwisdom.net) Divinely-inspired culture is of the highest moral integrity. No worldly hardships or barriers, wealth nor lust would cause a person of moral integrity to change their moral conduct, code of brotherhood, or righteousness. To come up to this standard, one must control one's desires and greed. The following are stories about Confucius and his disciples that illustrate these principles.
Once when Confucius went to visit Prince Jing of the Kingdom of Qi, the prince gave him an area of land called Bingque for the purpose of supporting his livelihood. Confucius turned the offer down. After leaving the Kingdom of Qi, Confucius told his disciples, "Gentlemen shouldn't accept rewards without having earned them. Prince Jing didn't carry out my proposals, but offered me that piece of land instead. He didn't understand my teaching!" So he left the Kingdom of Qi.
Zengzi, also called Zengcan, was also one of Confucius's disciples. He always wore old, ragged clothes on the farm. The King of Lu sent his representative to offer him a manor. The representative said, "You should go get changed!" Zengzi rejected the offer. The King's representative came back many times to offer him the land. Still Zengzi maintained his refusal. The representative said, "This isn't what you asked for, but it's others who are trying to give it to you. Why don't you accept it?" Zengzi said, "I heard that when one accepts something from someone, one will be afraid of offending him. Even if the king were to give me something without showing his pride, wouldn't I be afraid of offending him?" Therefore, Zenzi never did accept any such gifts. After hearing the news, Confucius said, "With this kind of integrity, Zenzi has indeed preserved his nobility and moral integrity."
Zisi, Confucius's grandson, had a very hard time making a living when he was in the Kingdom of Wei. He could only afford nine meals within twenty days, and had hardly anything to wear. What he wore on his back was no more than rotten cotton clothes, and he didn't even have a jacket to wear. When Tian Zifang, the renowned scholar, the tutor of the Prince of the Wei Kingdom, heard about this, he had his representative bring Zisi some very warm clothing made of white fox's skin. Afraid that Zisi might not accept his offer, Tian Zifang added, "I always forget what I donate, just like throwing things away." However, Zisi refused the offer. Tian Zifang said, "You don't have what I do, why can't you accept it?" Zisi said, "I heard that giving things improperly to others is no better than throwing them away in a trench. Although I'm poor, I wouldn't want to be a trench, so I can't accept it."