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【 水鏡回天錄白話解 】

Reflections in Water and Mirrors

Afraid Lest Their Actions Not Equal Their Words

宣化上人講 Verse and commentary by the Venerable Master Hua
國際譯經學院記錄 Translated by the International Translation Institute













Bai Yi and Shu Qi were brothers who lived at the time of King Zhou of Yin. When King Wu of Zhou set out to avenge the people and punish the wrongdoing (of King Zhou of Yin), they went on horseback to remonstrate with him and say that a subject should not subjugate his sovereign and bring about chaos in the country.

King Wu replied, "King Zhou is infatuated with his con­cubine Da Ji. He has sliced open the shins of citizens and ripped open the wombs of pregnant women. His lust is unbridled,and he robs and abuses the people. He is rejected by gods and humans alike. He is one man alone, and by riding against this one man, I can save the people who are as if drowning and burning. How is this causing chaos?"

After that he went on to destroy King Zhou and change the name of the dynasty from Yin to Zhou. Bai Yi and Shu Qi were ashamed to eat the grain of the state of Zhou and retired to Shouyang Mountain where they starved to death. To this day they are praised for their righteousness and sense of shame.


"Afraid lest their actions not equal their words" means feeling ashamed if one cannot live up to one's words. Perhaps you said you could do something, but then you aren't able to do it. You feel embarrassed and remorseful. Bai Yi and Shu Qi were the sons of King Guzhu. Bai Yi was supposed to inherit his father's position as king, but he didn't want to be the king, so he left. When Bai Yi left, Shu Qi also left. Neither of them wanted to be the king. In the ancient times, people were unwilling to be the king. They ran away and didn't contend with others.       The two brothers met up with each other on the road, and Bai Yi asked his brother, "What are you doing here?"

His brother said, "Well, what are you doing here?"

"I don't want to be the king," replied Bai Yi.

"You don't want to be king; do you think I want to be king?"

"You don't either? Then let's both of us rove about together."

Bai Yi and Shu Qi were brothers who lived at the time of King Zhou of Yin. They were descendants of King Tang of Shang. King Zhou of Yin was a despicable king. So that's when King Wu of Zhou set out to avenge the people and punish the wrongdoing (of King Zhou of Yin,). He wanted to comfort the people, because they had undergone too much suffering. At that point the two brothers who had declined the throne for themselves, and who thought it was not right for someone to seize the throne by force as King Wu was intending to do, went on horseback to see King Wu. When they arrived, they dismounted and knelt before King Wu to remonstrate with him not to punish King Zhou and say that a subject could not subjugate his sovereign and bring about chaos in the country. At that time King Wu was merely a minister, a feudal lord, whereas King Zhou was the King. They said that for a feudal lord to subjugate his king was wrong. Although King Wen had the support of two-thirds of the populace, and only one-third supported King Zhou, King Wen did not attack King Zhou. Later on his son (King Wu) attacked King Zhou of Yin, and so later the Zhou Dynasty was a very virtuous one. But at that time the two brothers counseled King Wu, saying, "If you as a minister subjugate your king, in the future you will be subjugated by your minister, and there will be chaos and disaster in the country. You cannot do this."

King Wu replied, "King Zhou is infatuated with his concu­bine Da Ji. He doesn't care about anyone but her. He loves and believes only in that woman. He'll do whatever she says. For example, he has sliced open the shins of citizens. I talked about this before. Do you all remember? Every day King Zhou and his wife would stand in Zaixing Tower (Star-plucking Tower, so named because the tower was very tall), and gaze out at the entire city.

In those days the roads were not paved with asphalt as they are today. Sometimes the roads were covered with puddles of water. One day they saw an old man and a young man wading in the water. The old man looked hale and hearty, while the young man was shivering from the cold. They could see these two people very clearly from the tower.

To be continued


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