"The reason Heaven has brought forth this multitude of people is to have those who understand first enlighten those who understand later, and to have those who become enlightened first enlighten those who become enlightened later. I am one who has become enlightened first among the multitude. By means of this Way, I shall enlighten these people." The person who said this was Yi Yin.
In the "Shang Odes" of the Book of Odes, it says, "Indeed, the pillar of state assists the Emperor of Shang." The "pillar of state" refers to the able minister of Emperor Tang of the Shang Dynasty, Yi Yin. Why was he called a pillar of state? When Yi Yin was still a courtier under the tyrant Emperor Jie of the Xia Dynasty, many people felt that it was not worth his while. They said, "Why don't you forget it? Are you really doing it for the sake of the petty pay? What ambition do you expect to achieve with a tyrant and his dull populace? It would be better for you to retreat to the deep mountains and woods and thus maintain your integrity." However, Yi Yin proclaimed vehemently, "Is there an emperor who is not worth serving? Is there a populace that cannot be governed? Heaven brings forth the multitude of people for those who first understand the facts and principles to teach and enlighten those who have not understood, and for those who first awaken to the truth to enlighten those who have yet awakened. Among the multitudes, I am one who has awakened first. Now I want to use this principle to enlighten these people!" So he still went to work early and returned late, earnestly doing whatever he was able to do. Even so, the slander from other vassals cost him his position. Thereupon he went to till and plant the fields in the rural area of Youxin and to bide his time. Emperor Tang, hearing of his virtue and ability, visited him repeatedly in person, bringing expensive presents and requesting his help. Seeing Emperor Tang's sincerity and worthiness, he came out of seclusion to assist the Emperor in attacking the tyrant Jie. As a result, not only was the great Shang Dynasty established, but the populace was able to live a peaceful, harmonious, and happy life. Emperor Tang often sighed and said, "Yi Yin is wise and full of stratagems, and skillful in exhortation and admonition. He is not only the pillar upon which the nation relies, but also the scale that balances out my errors!" Thus Yi Yin was respectfully named "Pillar of State" [literally "pillar and balance"].
When Emperor Tang's eldest grandson, Taijia, succeeded the throne, he neglected the national affairs. Ignoring all criticism and castigation, Yi Yin exiled the new emperor to a resort palace next to Emperor Tang's grave to reflect on his own faults. Yi Yin then took charge of the imperial court for three years until Taijia repented and vowed to re-establish his ancestors' virtue. He was then brought back to the imperial palace. At that time, all criticism died down and Yi Yin won the heart of the nation. With his loyalty, Yi Yin assisted five emperors through four generations and maintained the nation's peace for nearly one hundred years. He was truly a sage who took the nation as his own responsibility.