A Man of Modesty Will Extend His Good Fortune
The Duke of Zhou (Zhou Gong) was the brother of King Wu of Zhou (first king of the Zhou Dynasty) in ancient China. Only three years after defeating the Shang Dynasty, King Wu died in 1043 BC, leaving the task of consolidating the dynasty's power to the Duke of Zhou.
The Duke of Zhou assisted both King Wu and King Cheng (King Wu's young son) in ruling the Zhou Dynasty by virtue. He established proper codes of conduct for everyday life. In fact, he was revered as a saint by Confucius. King Cheng of Zhou once offered him the land of the Lu State, but Zhou Gong refused to accept the gift since he had important responsibilities to assist the king. King Cheng then decided to give the state of Lu to Bo Qin, the eldest son of Zhou Gong. When Bo Qin was about to leave for the State of Lu, the Duke of Zhou advised him solemnly, "You must never be proud or willful and you must never give in to your worldly desires. You must be modest at all times because that's the only way to rule your nation well and extend your good fortune."
Then the Duke of Zhou told Bo Qin, "Go. Don't act proud because you have been given the State of Lu as your estate. Don't neglect or be contemptuous towards the intellectuals there. I am a son of the late King Wen, a brother of the late King Wu and an uncle of the current King Cheng. I also shoulder the important responsibility of assisting King Cheng in ruling the country. I am in a very high position by many standards, but I continue to frequently come out of the bathroom three times when I wash my hair or stop eating dinner three times a night to receive guests. Nevertheless, I still worry about being rusty at social etiquette with intellectuals. I was told that a highly virtuous man will attain glory and honor if he is modest; that a man of many estates will have peace and prosperity if he regulates his desires and leads a frugal life; that a man of high stature will advance in nobility if he acts modestly; that a large army will triumph if it remains vigilant; that a smart and intelligent man will learn from other people if he acts like he knows nothing; and that a learned man with a photographic memory will expand his breath of knowledge if he is modest. These six points are the virtues of modesty. A wealthy ruler who owns the Four Seas stands to lose everything, including his own life, if he is not modest. King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty and Jie of the Xia Dynasty were both killed because of their arrogance. How could you not be modest or discreet? According to I Ching
(The Book of Changes), there is a way to protect the world if you comply with it in a big way, to protect a nation if you comply with it in a medium way and to protect oneself if you comply with it in a small way. That is modesty. Heaven and Earth favor modest men and despise arrogant ones. Ghosts, spirits and mankind all loath arrogant men and take delight in modest men. You must bear my words in mind! You must never neglect the intellectuals because you have been given the S
tate of Lu!"
The Duke of Zhou also told his sons, "A virtuous gentleman may be as strong as a bull, but he will never attempt to wrestle with a bull to prove that. A virtuous gentleman may be as fast as a horse, but he will never race with a horse to prove that. A virtuous gentleman may be as wise as a highly learned man, but he will never compete with a learned man to prove that."
There are numerous benefits to being modest. A man who treats others with modesty will win himself even more respect. A man who regulates his material desires and lives a frugal lifestyle will bring himself peace in the long run. A modest man will rise to higher places. A modest man is more likely to succeed. A modest man who does not brag about himself will be a role model. A modest man will broaden his horizon. Today's people will also benefit from being modest in the way they conduct themselves, interact with others, and learns new things.