Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals
King Wen-gong of the State of Jin rewarded the officials who had followed him
during his exile. The officials who exaggerated their contributions all received
large rewards. Zhi-tui Jie did not mention his contribution, so the king did not
reward him. When the king could not find food during the exile, it was Jie who
fed the king by cutting his own flesh.
Jie said, "The father of King Wen-gong, Xian-gong, had nine sons. Only King Wen-gong
survives. King Hui-gong and King Huai failed to appoint good officials, so the
people inside and outside of the State of Jin disregard their authority. If the
not to abandon the State of Jin, he will give the State of Jin a good king. Who
else, except Wen-gong, deserves to be in charge of Jin's ceremony of worshipping
the Creator? It was the Creator who arranged for Wen-gong to be the King of Jin. My colleagues claimed it
to be their accomplishment. Was this not completely contrived? One is called a
thief if he steals other people's money or possessions. To claim the Creator's work as
one's own contribution is an even greater offense. The officials in the king's
court regarded their crimes as noble deeds, and the king rewarded criminals. It
is too difficult for me to associate with them because the king and officials
deceive each other to gain false honor."
His mother asked, "Why don't you ask for a reward as well? To whom can you
complain if you don't?" Jie replied, "Imitating other people's faults is an even
greater crime. Since I have complained about the king, I can by no means accept
his appointment." His mother asked, "Why don't you let the king know your
opinion?" Jie said, "Words are a tool to decorate oneself. Now that I have
decided to seclude myself from the world, why do I need words for adornment?
Furthermore, if I were to tell the king my opinion, it would show that I am
looking for recognition."
His mother said, "If you can really follow your ideals, I will retire from
the world with you." From then on, Jie led a secluded life on Mian-shang
Mountain until he died.
The King of Jin tried to search for Jie on Mian-shang Mountain, but it was in
vain 1. Consequently, he appropriated the income from Mian-shang
Mountain to cover the expense of honoring Jie. The king said, "I use the
memorials to remind me of my fault and to pay homage to a good man."
1 When the king could not find Jie on Mian-shang
Mountain, someone suggested, “If you set a fire on the mountain, Jie will appear because he cares about his
mother.” Consequently, the king set the fire. However, Jie and his mother never