When Tzu Kung went south to the Ch’u State on his way back to the Chin State, he passed through Han-yin. There he saw an old man engaged in making a ditch to connect his vegetable garden with a well. He had a pitcher in his hand, with which he was bringing up water and pouring it into the ditch,— great labor with very little result.
“If you had a machine here,” cried Tzu Kung, “in a day you could irrigate a hundred times your present area. The labor required is trifling as compared with the work done. Would you not like to have one?”
“What is it?” asked the gardener.
“It is a contrivance made of wood,” replied Tzu Kung, “heavy behind and light in front. It draws up water as you do with your hands, but in a constantly overflowing stream. It is called a well-sweep.”
Thereupon the gardener flushed up and said, “I have heard from my teacher that those who have cunning implements are cunning in their dealings, and that those who are cunning in their dealings have cunning in their hearts, and that those who have cunning in their hearts cannot be pure and in-corrupt, and that those who are not pure and in-corrupt are restless in spirit, and that those who are restless in spirit are not fit vehicles for Tao. It is not that I do not know of these things. I should be ashamed to use them.”
At this Tzu Kung was much abashed, and said nothing. Then the gardener asked him who he was, to which Tzu Kung replied that he was a disciple of Confucius.
“Are you not one who extends his learning with a view to being a Sage; who talks big in order to put himself above the rest of mankind; who plays in a key to which no one can sing so as to spread his reputation abroad? Rather become unconscious of self and shake off the trammels of the flesh,–and you will be near. But if you cannot govern your own self, what leisure have you for governing the empire? Be gone! Do not interrupt my work.”