孔門十哲 The Ten Disciples of Confucius
Yan Yan (506 BC – 443 BC), also known as Zi You or Shu Shi, was a native of Wu State in the late Spring and Autumn period (his hometown was in Changshu, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province). He was also referred to as Yan Zi and was bestowed the title of “Wu Hou” during the Tang Dynasty and “Danyang Gong” during the Song Dynasty. Later, he was also referred to as “Wu Gong”.
子遊和子夏同列孔門十哲的文學科，且精通禮樂，能行禮樂之教。子遊少了孔子四十五歲，曾任魯國武城宰，用禮樂教育士民，境內到處有弦歌之聲，孔子對此表示贊賞——孔子曾說：「君子學道則愛人，小人學道則易使。」。子遊是孔子七十二弟子中唯一南方人，後學成南歸，道啟東南，被譽為「南方夫子」。Zi You and Zi Xia were both members of the literary discipline of the Ten Virtuous Ones of the Confucian school, and they were proficient in ritual and music, and could teach the principles of ritual and music. Zi You was 45 years younger than Confucius, and had served as the commandant of Wu Cheng (Wu City) in the State of Lu, where he used ritual and music to educate the people. The sound of music was heard everywhere in the region, and Confucius praised this achievement, saying, “When a gentleman pursues the Way, he loves others; when a small man pursues the Way, he harms others.” Zi You was the only southerner among the seventy-two disciples of Confucius, and after completing his studies, he returned to the south, where he spread the teachings of the Way and was revered as the “Master of the South(南方夫子).”
論語中之子遊 Zi You in the Analects.
In “Analects of Confucius – Yang Huo”, it is recorded that when Confucius arrived in Wu Cheng, he heard the sound of music and singing. Confucius smiled and said, “Why use a butcher’s knife to kill a chicken?” Zi You replied, “I remember my teacher saying, ‘When a gentleman pursues the Way, he loves others; when a small man pursues the Way, he harms others.'” Confucius said, “Students, Yan Yan’s words are correct. My previous words were just a joke.” Confucius was both regretful that Zi You was not given a more important role and pleased that he was skilled in music and ritual.
In the “Analects of Confucius, Wei Zheng”, Zi You asked about filial piety. Confucius replied, “What is now called filial piety merely means being able to support one’s parents. But even dogs and horses are cared for, so if there is no respect and obedience to parents, what difference is there between caring for them and caring for animals?”
Confucius emphasized the importance of the character “敬” (jìng) in filial piety. Only by both nurturing and respecting one’s parents can one fulfill both the external and internal aspects of filial piety.
「大同」說 The "Great Unity" theory
The “Great Unity” theory, which has had a profound impact on Chinese political culture, originated from a conversation between Confucius and his disciple Zi You in the “Book of Rites – The Conveyance of Rites,” later known as the “Great Unity Chapter.” According to Xiong Shili, a neo-Confucian master, in his works “Yuanru” and “Qiankun Yan,” this conversation allowed Zi You to inherit the authentic teachings of Confucius’ political philosophy.
後人追封 Posthumous Title
In later times, Wu Ziyou was posthumously honored with the title “Wu Hou” during the Tang Dynasty,
“Danyang Gong” during the Song Dynasty, and later referred to as the “Wu Gong”.