Meaning of the Idiom
bu chi xia wen（not feel ashamed to ask and learn from one’s subordinates）
Confucius was a great thinker, educator, statesman and founder of Confucianism during the Spring and Autumn Period. People all respected him as a saint. However, even a sage such as Confucius did not have all the knowledge and needed to constantly consult others. Confucius never stopped asking questions from different people during his lifetime of learning.
Kongyu, who was at the same time as Confucius, is the minister of Wei. He is not only smart and studious, but also very modest. Kongyu made important contributions to the state of Wei. After his death, the king of the state of Wei gave him the title of “Wen Gong” in order to let future generations learn and carry forward his studious spirit. Later generations Revere Kongyu as Confucius and Confucius as Confucius.
One of Confucius’ students, Zi Gong, was also a man of Wei . He was not convinced that Kongyu was worthy of such a high honor. Once Zi Gong asked Confucius, “Sir, Kongyu is indeed very high in knowledge and talent, but there are many others more outstanding than him. Why should he be given the title of ‘Lord Wen’?” The Confucius answered with a smile, “Kongyu was very diligent and studious, clever and agile, and if he did not understand anything, even if the other person was not in his position or knowledge, he would be generous and modest to ask for advice, and would not be ashamed of it. Therefore, it would not be inappropriate to give him the title of ‘Lord Wen’.”
After this explanation, Zi Gong was finally convinced.
[bù chǐ xià wèn]，原意是不把向学问、地位等不如自己的人请教当成可耻的事。形容谦虚、好学。
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