(Clearwisdom.net) Confucius read the book Yi (also called Zhou Yi, Yi Jing and translated as The Book of Changes). He heaved a sigh when reading the chapter that dealt with predictions of bad or good luck.

Zixia, one of his students, noticing him sighing, approached and asked, “Teacher, why did you sigh?”

Confucius replied: “I was enlightened a lot from the wisdom in the Yi. It told me that weak people should become more confident and conceited people should become aware of their behavior. That’s why I sighed in admiration.”

Zixia asked, “Can they learn to improve from studying?” Confucius answered, “No. The universe's laws would not allow such a success to be long-lasting.”

Confucius' words mean that success can be fleeting. If people study hard and with a humble attitude, they are likely to learn more. But if they are not humble in seeking knowledge, no amount of knowledge will do them any good.

Confucius continued, “When the Emperor Tangrao was given a kingdom to rule, he still treated others with respect and humility, and was strict with himself. His country was strong and his merits are known even today. Kunwu (a head of the Xia Dynasty) regarded himself as infallible. When he reached the highest position, he got ever greedier for more, and soon he fell.

Everything goes in cycles. When the sun is at its brightest at noontime, it is also when it begins its decline. When the moon is full, it is about to start on its way to being a crescent.

A sage should not become arrogant. When there are three people in a carriage, he should step out and let the others ride. If there are two people, he should be courteous and respectful to the other. He needs to be willing to adjust his behavior to suit the situation, and only thus would he be a sage for a long time.”

Zixia listened carefully to Confucius’ lecture and said, “Good! I will remember what you taught me for the rest of my life.”

Thoughts from the author:

Confucius was enlightened by Yi Jing’s words of wisdom and he understood that modesty and humility are virtues.

Lastly, Confucius said: “The universal law states that no success lasts forever.” He believed that only those who were modest and humble could succeed for the long term, but even then, no one can be successful forever.

As cultivators, no matter how well we have cultivated, we shouldn't consider ourselves extraordinary, but always respect Teacher and the Fa.

Reference from Shuo Yuan by Liu Xiang of Han Dynasty.