After the First Emperor of Qin unified the six kingdoms, he searched for the magic of immortality. Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng, two Buddhist scholars, searched for immortal people and immortal medicine for the emperor for a long time, but they could not find them.
According to the law of the Qin Dynasty, failure to find the fairy medicine was punishable by death. Hou Sheng and Lu Sheng were afraid of being punished, so they secretly fled.
Qin Shi Huang was very angry and ordered the execution of hundreds of Confucian scholars who had been involved in the affair. This is the famous burning of books and burying scholars.
e guan man ying（a full record of crimes and misdeeds）
At the end of the Shang Dynasty, King Zhou of Shang was very cruel.
There was a vassal named Ji Chang, who stood for benevolence against the tyranny of King Zhou, and he had him arrested. Later, his son Ji Fa joined forces with the vassals to fight against King Zhou. The army crossed the Yellow River and marched to the commercial capital, where it met the king’s army at Muye. The popularity of Ji Fa led to a great deal of support from the people, who hated King Zhou’s army, resulting in a great defeat for Zhou, who burned himself to death and the Shang Dynasty fell.
Before Ji Fa led the army against King Zhou, Ji Fa made an oath to the whole army, listing Zhou’s crimes, saying that the evil he had done had come to an end, and that he should be punished for his crimes. Call on everyone to work together for the sake of the people.
fu shui nan shou（It is no use crying over spilled milk.）
Jiang Ziya was born in the Shang Dynasty. He was proficient in the art of war, and King Zhou was cruel and wicked. He had to retreat to a relatively remote place.
Jiang Ziya’s wife is surnamed Ma. She saw that Jiang Ziya was getting older and older, but he had not made any achievements. She did not want to live with him. Jiang Ziya tried to persuade her patiently at first, but Ma felt that Jiang Ziya was cheating her and refused to believe it anyway. Finally, Ma finally resolutely left Jiang Ziya. Jiang Ziya had no choice but to let her away.
Later, Jiang Ziya finally met Ji Chang, King of Zhou, who was on a cruise. Ji Chang thought him very talented and asked him to leave the mountain. Later, Jiang Ziya made great achievements and King of Zhou awarded him the land of Qi. Ma saw Jiang Ziya success, regret that he had left him, she came to ask for compound. But Jiang Ziya has seen through Ma’s personality, never want to get back together with her. Seeing Ma’s persistence, Jiang poured a pot of water on the ground and said to Ma: “If you can put the water back in the pot, I will get back together with you.”
Hearing this, Ma quickly fell to the ground to fetch water, but the water had already penetrated into the soil, where to get back. Ma struggled for a long time, but only pulled up some mud. At this time, Jiang said to her coldly, “What is done cannot be undone. Do you understand that my relationship with you is the same as that of this pot of water? Since it has been poured out, it is impossible to turn back.”
pao zhuan yin yu（throw out a minnow to catch a whale）
During the Tang dynasty, there lived a man named Zhao Gu, who was a very talented poet. Zhao Gu’s poems were so well-written that even famous poets of his time enjoyed reading them.
At that time, in a place called Wu, there lived a man named Chang Jian, who also liked to write poems. Chang Jian greatly admired Zhao Gu’s literary talent, and longed to know him personally. One day, Chang Jian heard that Zhao Gu would be travelling to Wu. He knew that Zhao Gu would definitely go visit Ling Yan Temple during his trip, because this was a very famous place which everyone who came to Wu went to see. So Chang Jian went first to the temple, and on the wall which was set aside for guests’ comments and ideas, wrote two lines of poem.
When Zhao Gu saw the two lines of poetry on the temple wall, he could not help adding another two lines, because Chinese poems are always composed of at least four lines. And so Chang Jian achieved his goal. He said, “My poem is a brick, and Zhao Gu’s poem is jade, I layed a brick, and attracted jade!”
This idiom is now a polite expression often used when giving an opinion or delivering a speech. It means that what one is offering is somehow lacking, and one is in hopes that others will, seeing it, offer something that is better.
ou xin li xue（to vomit one’s heart and shed one’s blood）
Li He was a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty.
It is said that Li He did not set up a topic first when composing poems, but paid attention to discovering materials in life. Every time he goes out, he always rides a skinny horse, takes a little boy with him, and carries a kit on his back. He thinks while walking, and when he recites a good sentence, he writes a scroll on the horse and puts it in the kit.
His mother waited for him to go home, checked all his pockets and found that he had written a lot, and often complained to him pitifully: “Don’t tell me you have to vomit all your hard work before you give up!”
Li He wrote poems too hard, which damaged his health. He died at the age of 27, but he left many poems with unique artistic style for later generations, which added splendor to the Chinese poetry world.
ke zhou qiu jian（to mark the boat in order to find the lost sword）
One day, a man of the State of Chu was crossing a river by boat. Due to carelessness, his sword which hung at his side fell into the water. Not in the least worried, he slowly took out a small knife and cut a mark on the side of the boat.
Someone on the boat asked him:
“Why don’t you jump into the water at once to fish for your sword? What’s the use of making this mark on the side of the boat?”
He pointed to the mark on the side of the boat, saying unhurriedly:
“There is no need to worry. My sword fell into the river at this marked place. As soon as the boat reaches the dock and pulls in to shore, I will jump down from here to retrieve my sword.”
No one understood why he did this, and they stopped asking him.
As soon as the ship reached the shore, the Chu man went into the water at the place marked on the ship to retrieve the fallen sword. The Chu people fished for a long time, but never saw the shadow of the sword. He was very surprised and said to himself, “Isn’t this where my sword fell? I made a mark here. How can I not find it now?”
When he said this, the men burst out laughing and said, “How can you find your sword when the ship is still moving and your sword is under the water and will not move with the ship?”
In ancient times, there was a woman, known as Liang Gu, who lived with her brother’s family with her two children.
One day, her brother went to work, and Liang Gu was at home alone to take care of one of her brother’s sons and her two children. While she was doing laundry in the courtyard, a raging fire broke out in the house, which blocked the three children in the house, and the situation was very critical.
Liang Gu rushed into the house and took the child out to take a look, but found that it was her son who was saved. At this time, the fire became more and more fierce, and if she went in to save the child, her own life was in danger. She was very anxious, thinking to herself: If I can’t save my brother’s child, but my own child is saved, won’t everyone know that I am a selfish person? she once again rushed into the burning house, but the child was not rescued, and she herself was burned to death.
During the Spring and Autumn Period, the Chu State relied on its strength and sent troops to attack the weak Song State. Seeing that the situation was critical, the king of Song State sent envoys to Jin State to ask for help. The king of Jin didn’t want to send troops for the time being, so he sent his envoy Xie Yang to Song, telling Song not to surrender, and Jin’s army would soon go to rescue them.
Unexpectedly, Xie Yang was arrested, and the king of Chu forced him to say the opposite to the Song people, and Xie Yang pretended to agree. Therefore, Xie Yang was under the city of Song State, and took the opportunity to convey the order of King Jin to Song State. Seeing that Yang had deceived himself, the king of Chu was furious and scolded him: “You don’t keep your promise, prepare to die!” Xie Yang replied calmly without fear: “I have accepted the order of our king. No promise. I pretended to agree to the king of Chu in order to fulfill my mission, and I would have no regrets even if I died.” The king of Chu admired Xie Yang’s loyalty and unyielding, so he let him go.
The state of Song and the state of Chu were in a stalemate, and the state of Chu was running out of food. When the King of Chu was about to retreat, Minister Shen Shushi said: “I heard that the people of the Song state have no food. We only need to let the soldiers build houses, grow food, and pretend to live here for a long time, and the Song army will collapse. We are afraid that they will not surrender. Is it?” The king of Chu thought it made sense, so he accepted his opinion.
That night, Hua Yuan, the general of the Song Army, sneaked into the camp of Chu. He called General Chu back and said, “We have now reached the point where we cannibalize human flesh and burn human bones. However, we would rather let the country perish than surrender. If you retreat for thirty miles, we can make peace.” Under Hua Yuan’s intimidation, Zifan had no choice but to agree to retreat. Zifan reported the matter to the king of Chu, who agreed.
The next day, the Chu army retreated thirty miles. Hua Yuan signed a covenant with the state of Chu, and the covenant wrote: “I will not deceive you, and you will have no danger to me.”
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.