Emperors Yao and Shun Honored Xu You (Part 2)

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After Xu You left the swamp, he moved faraway with the intent of not letting Emperor Yao find him again. Emperor Yao continuously searched for Xu and finally located him one year later, farming on the foothills of Mount Ji in the central mountain region.

While working on the land one day, Xu heard someone approaching and yelling “Teacher.” Xu looked up and saw Emperor Yao, who saluted him. Xu was surprised and asked, “What does the Emperor come here for? What is the issue?” Emperor Yao said, “I planned to hand over the country to you last time because I was afraid that my poor ability and virtue might mislead the people. It was unexpected that Teacher declined the position and left. Over the past year, I was sincerely considering anyone with sublime virtues to assist me in ruling the country. After carefully thinking, no one is more virtuous than Teacher is. I thus come again to sincerely ask you to become the head of the Nine States (these were the territorial divisions of the nation at that time). It will be fortunate not only for me but for everyone in the country if you accept the position.”

Hearing this, Xu said, “I do not understand what you said. I have never heard of anyone being head of the Nine States, only the Emperor, and that is you.” Emperor Yao explained, “Originally, there was no such position. I created it for you to show my sincerity. Please accept it.” Xu declined again and moved away to live as a hermit. He could no longer be found. The people heard of this story and praised Emperor Yao for his generosity and humility, and Xu You for his virtue.

Before Shun became emperor, he farmed at Mount Li. He often gave away fertile lands to others as he paid attention to comity and righteousness. Within six months, farmers in the area were politely taking barren lands for themselves and leaving the fertile lands for others. Shun was well respected around Mount Li, so much so that he, instead of the government, was asked to judge and settle arguments. Because of him, many people moved to live in areas surrounding Mount Li, causing this outlying area to gradually grow into a prosperous region. Everyone there called Shun a sage, adding, “Everyone the sage meets will indeed be assimilated. The sage teaches us righteousness instead of selfishness, giving instead of taking.” The effects of Shun’s guidance were clearly visible.

When touring Mount Ji one time after farming, Shun saw an elderly man walking towards him. The man suddenly tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. Shun rushed over to help him. The elderly man thanked him repeatedly. Shun asked the man his name and where he lived given his old age. The man answered, “Why do you ask? I have not told people my name for ten years.” Shun was surprised and did not know what to say. Then the elderly man asked about his name.

When Shen told him his name, the man smiled and said, “Oh! You are the one. I have heard so much about you. Alright, I will tell you my name, but just keep it between us.” After Shun promised repeatedly, the elderly man said, “My name is Xu You, courtesy name Wuzhong.” Shun immediately knelt on the ground and bowed his head to show his respect. He said to Xu, “Where do you live? I will walk you home.” Xu smiled, “It is kind of you to offer to take me home. I live on the other side of Mount Ji. It would be troublesome for you.” Shun replied, “It is my honor to serve an elder. How can I consider it troublesome.” After helping Xu You traverse the mountain to his home, Xu expressed his gratitude and spoke to Shun some more. Shun requested to be Xu You’s student and Xu You accepted. The next day, Shun presented many household gifts to Xu for accepting him as his student. Shun learned many principles from Xu You, which helped guide him to become a virtuous and benevolent emperor.

帝堯、帝舜師事許由 ()

許由從沛澤遁出之後,為了不使帝堯再找到他,就跑到中岳嵩山穎水之陽、箕山之下,在那裏耕作隱居,不覺已過一年。帝堯到處尋訪,終於打聽到了許由的消息。一日,許由正在田間低頭幹活,忽覺有人走近來,高叫:「老師!」向他行禮。許由抬頭一看,哪知是帝堯,不覺詫異,就問道:「帝怎會跑到這裏來?有甚麼事?」帝堯道:「前番擬將天下讓與老師,原是為弟子無才無德,深恐誤盡蒼生,所以有此舉。不意老師匿跡潛蹤。擬懇求道德卓越之人,為弟子輔佐,但是仔細一想,道德卓越之人,仍舊無過於老師。所以今朝竭誠再來敦請老師,作九州之長,輔佐弟子,還望老師不要推辭,不但弟子一人之幸,實在是天下萬民之幸也。」許由聽到此,說「天子總理九州,就是九州之長。從古未聞天子之外,還有甚麼九州之長。帝之此言,某所不解。」帝堯道:「本來沒有這個官名,不過弟子請求老師輔佐,特設此官以表隆重,還請老師屈就。」許由再次推辭歸隱,使人再找不到他。但是帝堯對許由一次讓位,一次召為九州長,百姓們都知道了,人們都稱讚帝堯的胸懷和許由的境界。《莊子•讓王》篇記載此事雲:「堯讓天下,許由不受」。

舜耕於歷山時,把肥沃的土地讓給他人,講究禮讓,重視仁義,半年以後,那裏風氣大變,種田的人居然都知道自己取那磽瘠之地,而將那肥沃之地互相推讓了。人們個個都敬重舜。有時鄰居爭鬥,都要請舜裁判,舜的話比官令還要佩服。遠近的人聞風而搬到歷山去住的,竟有爭先恐後的情形,使偏僻之地逐漸成了繁盛之區。人們稱舜為聖人,說「真是‘聖人所過者化’啊。聖人只教我們以義,不教我們以利;聖人只教我們以讓,不教我們以爭。」可見舜化導的功效了。

舜在一次耕種之暇,來到了箕山遊覽,只見一個老者迎面而來,一不小心被石子絆足,跌在地上。舜看見了,忙過去扶了他起來,到一塊石上坐下,老者一再感謝。舜看他年紀甚高,就問他家在何處,又問他姓名。那老者道:「我已幾十年不說姓名了,你問它作甚?」舜聽了,覺得詫異,叫問不已。那老者道:「汝叫甚麼名字?」舜告訴了。那老者笑道:「原來是你,我亦久聞你的名字。罷,罷,我就告訴你,但是你不要告訴人。」舜連聲答應。老者道:「我姓許,名由,字武仲。」舜不等他說完,就拜了下去,許由止之不住,舜起身再道:「先生家在何處?我送先生回去吧。」許由笑道:「你願送我回去,也好,我家就在箕山的那一面,不過煩勞你了。」舜道:「得以伺候長者,正是求之不得之事,敢說煩勞嗎!」當下舜扶了許由過山,直到許由家中。許由深表感謝,又與舜交談,舜請拜許由為師,許由亦不推辭,就收舜為弟子。次日,舜送了許多日用之物給許由,以當束脩之貲。自此以後,耕種、貿易之餘,舜常去請教,許由給他講述了很多道理,舜後來成為德行感召天地,仁政澤被四方的聖君。

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