Shame Leads to Self-Discipline
(Clearwisdom.net) King Wen of Chu, called Xiongzi, was the son of King Wu of Chu, the "First King of Chu State in the Spring and Autumn Time (722 - 481 B.C.)." When King Wu of Chu was old and frail, he still put down a Sui State rebellion that was putting a wedge between the alliance of states. Alas, he died when traveling with his army to the Sui State. Fortunately, he had named Xiongzi, his son, to be crowned King. Xiong became the new King of Chu State in 689 B.C. Like his father before him, King Wen of Chu was very ambitious.
n his first year as ruler of Chu, King Wen neglected the affairs of state. He was more interested in being a playboy than ruling the land and thus rarely held court.
Once, King Wen of Chu was given a hunting dog named Ruhuang and sharp bamboo sticks called Wanlu. He fashioned arrows and then he and his dog went on a three month hunt to Yumenze. He met up with three beautiful women from the Danyang State and stayed with them for a year. His playboy days were in full swing. It was rumored that for King Wen, his dog, sharp arrows, and the Danyang beauties came first before the affairs of Chu.
Senior government ministers who had been appointed by King Wu were breaking their heads to turn King Wen into a ruler. Nothing they said or did turned King Wu's lifestyle around. Finally, Minister Shen and General Yuquan asked for an audience with King Wen. Despite facing the possibility of death, they tried again to reason with King Wen. Minister Shen said to King Wen, "Your departed father, King Wu, appointed me because he believed that I would be successful in helping you achieve all you can be and make Chu prosperous. Yet, once you were crowned King, you became a playboy and went hunting with Ruhuang for three months. Then, you took fancy to beauties from Danyang and continued to neglect affairs of state for a year. We have tried all in our power to turn you around, but were unsuccessful. Your father, Chu's previous King, ruled that if you neglected your duty to the Kingdom, you should be flogged."
King Wen said, "I was nobility since the day I was born. Would you please choose another way to dispense my punishment?"
Minister Shen knelt in front of King Wen and said "I have to follow orders as directed by our previous King and I dare not violate your father's trust in me. I rather offend you then violate the pledge I made to King Wu before his demise." King Wen responded, "I will submit to my punishment."
Minister Shen put a straw mat on the floor and asked King Wen to lay down on it. He raised the whip given to him by King Wu up high and brought it down lightly a few times. Then he said to King Wen, "I have done my duty. Please get up!"
King Wen said, "Now, since I have been flogged in name, please flog me as intended!"
Minister Shen said, "I heard that a gentleman only needs to feel ashamed and only ordinary people need to feel the physical pain. When a gentleman feels ashamed and refuses to change, then what good will the physical pain do?" Then he left and went into exile asking King Wen for a death sentence.
King Wen said, "I have brought it to this. What crime did Minister Shen commit?" With these words he mended his ways, sent his "three favorites" on their way and began to focus on the nation's affairs. He asked Minister Shen to return and serve his King. Now, the nation's affairs became King Wen's priority and he ruled his people wisely. Within a few years, Chu conquered thirty additional states, expanding the territory. Chu became a strong kingdom and the people of Chu became prosperous and lived happily during King Wen's rule.
May 14, 2007