Suffering Insults Modestly and Attaching the Most Importance to the Bigger Picture
(Clearwisdom.net) Kou Xun, also known as Kou Ziyi, was from Changping (now Beijing), Shanggu City in the Eastern-Han dynasty. He was a general who was highly trusted by the Guangwu Emperor, and he was very well known in the government for his knowledge of classical scriptures and his high morality. Many people praised him as a person with high virtue and believed that he had the capacity to become a prime minister. He always remained modest when he was confronted with insults and never argued with others for personal interests. He considered the bigger picture to be the most important.
Kou Xun was once the governor of Yingchuan county. At the time, there was a general Jia Fu, who was in charge of the guards of the emperor's palaces. When he was in Runan City, he heard from someone that one of his staff committed murder in Yingchuan county, and was arrested and executed by the local governor Kou Xun. Jia Fu was quite angry about this. When he passed by Yingchuan county on his return journey from Runan City, he said to his company, "Both Kou Xun and I are generals of the nation. As a great man, isn't it strange if I do not take my revenge when I am bullied by someone? I will definitely kill Kou Xun when I see him this time."
Upon learning of this, Kou Xun refused to see him. Gu Chong, nephew and a member of Kou Xun's staff, said to him, "As a soldier I will serve at your side with my sword in hand. If something improper happens, I will be strong enough to handle it."
Kou Xun said, "This is not right. In the old times, Lin Xiangru was brave enough not to yield to the King of Qin, but he yielded to Lian Po for the good of his nation. There were clearheaded people like him even in a kingdom as small as Zhao. How can I forget it?" Then he ordered the officials of his subordinate counties to serve well Jia Fu and his followers, while he tried to avoid seeing him. In the end, the followers of Jia Fu were so drunken that they could not chase down Kou Xun. They gave up their plan to assassinate him and left Yingchuan county for home.
Later, Kou Xun dispatched someone to go to the Guangwu emperor to tell him what had happened in his county. Kuangwu emperor then summoned Kou Xun to go to see him. When he arrived, he found Jia Fu already there. He attempted to evade Jia Fu, but the Guangwu emperor said to him, "The situation of the country has not yet been settled. How can two generals fight each other for personal interests?" The three sat together and talked freely. In the end, Kou Xun and Jia Fu left the emperor's home in the same carriage as good friends.
People who fail to take insults modestly will certainly nurture deeper hostilities and incur disaster, both to their undertakings and to themselves. History books commented on Kou Xun's attitude in different ways. Confucius said, "Bo Yi and Shu Qi do not dwell on previous hostilities. That is why they have very few personal enemies."
Kou Xun's action was not out of cowardice or weakness. On the contrary, he has a broad mind and far insight, and that is why he was regarded as a person of great accomplishment and high morality. Because he was modest, he was able to resolve the hostilities between Jia Fu and himself in the end. They become friends from being enemies and finally supported the Eastern-Han dynasty to unify China.