The tradition of virtue cannot be established all at once. It requires the accumulated efforts of a great many virtuous individuals. An individual's virtuous character is not developed overnight either; it must be nurtured from childhood by his family.
China is an ancient country which values propriety and the ability to yield; it has produced countless sages and great men who were renowned for their propriety and ability to yield. There are many examples in which the country was governed by means of propriety and yielding. Propriety is not apart from yielding; yielding must accord with propriety. The two complement and benefit one another. If something is not in accord with the rules of propriety, it should basically not be done at all; how much the less should one consider whether or not to yield.
Between siblings, the elder sibling should be kind, and the younger one should be respectful. Elder brothers and sisters should want to let their younger siblings enjoy the advantages, and younger siblings should want to yield the advantages to their older siblings. In that way, how can the family not be harmonious and how can there not be prosperity?
King Wu of Zhou was the founder of the Zhou dynasty. His great grandfather, the Ancient Lord of Tan, had three sons: Taibo, Zhongy- ong, and Jili. The Ancient Lord of Tan favored the son of Jili and thought this son could certainly cause the Zhou dynasty, founded by the Ji clan, to flourish. That's why he named this boy Chang ("flourishing") and wanted him to become the ruler of the Zhou dynasty. However, the only way this could happen would be for the boy's father Jili to inherit the throne. Therefore the two elder brothers, Taibo and Zhongyong, retreated to Nanman [region inhabited by barbarous tribes in the south of China] so that the throne would pass to their younger brother Jili. However, before and after the death of their father, Jili three times tried to yield the throne to his two older brothers and refused to assume the throne himself.
Taibo and Zhongyong resorted to adopting the manner of the local tribes, cutting their hair short and wearing it loose, and making tattoos on their body. They did this to show that they were resolved not to return to their state, so that Jili could assume the throne without worry. Later, Jili's son Jichang indeed became a leader of exceptional wisdom who won people over by means of his virtue. The various small states from all around turned away from the tyrant Emperor Zhou of Shangand allied themselves under him, so that he gained the support of two-thirds of the country. After King Wu of Zhou attacked EmperorZhou and united the whole country under the new dynasty of Zhou, he bestowed the title "King Wen of Zhou" upon his father, Jichang. KingWen was a ruler of sagely wisdom. His teachings of propriety, his laws, his system of government, and the eight trigrams of the Book of Change which he calculated have had a profound and far-reaching influence on Chinese history and culture.
The two elder brothers, Taibo and Zhongyong, who had retreated to the south of China, were elected as leaders by the local natives because of their outstanding virtue and talent. Later on they founded the state of Yu. The descendants of the state of Yu later moved to the lower reaches of the Yangzi River, where they founded the state of Wu. They accepted the protection offered by Zhou and became a feudal state under the Zhou dynastic rule. During the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period, the state of Wu grew and gained strength until in the reign of King Shoumeng it became a great state. Of the King's four sons, the youngest one, Jizha, possessed the greatest talent and virtue. King Shoumeng believed that the only way the state of Wu could prosper would be for Jizha to become king. But Jizha adamantly refused to become the crown prince ahead of his three older brothers. Right before he died. King Shoumeng instructed his four sons that the throne was to be passed not from father to son, but from older brother to younger brother, until it passed to the youngest brother, Jizha.
After the King passed away, the eldest brother tried to yield the throne directly to Jizha, but had no success, so he could only assume the throne himself first. Since he was always going to battle without regard for his own life, it was not long before he was shot to death on the battlefield. After the second brother became king, he constantly prayed to heaven for an early death. Why? Because he felt the state of Wu had reached its prosperity because its founder (the Ancient Lord of Tan) had chosen its ruler on the basis of virtue rather than seniority. What was more, the state of Wu had been founded as a result of the yielding of the two elder brothers Taibo and Zhongyong. Thus yielding among brothers was a family tradition, and he was willing to emulate this virtue of his ancestors. That's why he wanted to die sooner so that Jizha could become the King of Wu earlier. Not long afterwards, he was also killed in battle.
When the third brother became King, he asked Jizha to help rule the state as prime minister. Jizha felt that with so much warfare, there was no way for the people to live in peace and security. Thus he traveled throughout the states making goodwill missions as a "peace ambassador. "His lofty virtue and exceptional talent and intelligence won the respect of the other feudal lords, and as a result the state of Wu enjoyed many years of peace. But the third brother died after only four years as king. Right before his death he tried to pass the throne to Jizha, but Jizha still refused and retreated to Yanling to live. With Jizha's abrupt departure, the ministers of Wu panicked and hastily set up the third brother's son, Prince Liao, as king.
At this turn of events, Prince Guang, the son of the eldest brother, was unhappy; he thought that if Jizha didn't want to be the king of Wu, the throne should pass to him. Yet King Liao of Wu didn't show the slightest intention of yielding the throne, which dissatisfied him even more. Later, taking advantage of the fact that Jizha was away visiting the state ofJin, he sent an assassin to kill King Liao. When Jizha returned. Prince Guang made a show of yielding the throne to him, saying that he wished to honor the wishes of his grandfather, father, and two uncles. Jizha said to him, "You were dead set on being the King of Wu. Now you've obtained what you wanted; what are you yielding it up for? Whoever the king is, as long as he treats the people well, I will support him. " Thus Prince Guang became the King of Wu and changed his name to He Lyu.
Since Jizha felt greatly ashamed at the way Prince Guang had usurped the throne from King Liao, he stayed in Yanling for the rest of his life and did not concern himself with the affairs of the state of Wu anymore. In history he is honorically referred to as the Prince of Yanling. After King Helyu of Wu was killed in battle with the state of Yue and his son Fucai assumed the throne, the state of Wu was conquered by the state of Yue.
From the two stories above, we can see that the auspicious blessings brought by propriety and yielding can enable a country to prosper for a long time. On the other hand, there is no greater misfortune than the violence brought about by strife and contention. If this is the case for a country, would it not be the case for a family? There is a common saying, "When siblings get along, the family will not break up." If we want siblings to get along, we have to teach our children so they can understand the order governing seniors and juniors, and so they will know to practice propriety and yielding in all matters in their daily life.