18.6

Chang Ju and Jie Ni were yoked together, plowing the fields. Confucius, who was passing by, sent Zilu to ask where the river crossing was.

Chang Ju asked, “Who’s that holding the carriage reigns?”

“Confucius,” replied Zilu.

“Confucius from Lu?”

“Yes.”

“Then he already knows where the river crossing is.”

Zilu then asked Jie Ni the same question.

“And who are you?” asked Jie Ni.

“Zilu.”

“Zilu the student of Confucius from Lu?”

“I am.”

“The water keeps moving forward, all over the world. Who can change it? Why do you bother following someone who keeps running from one ruler to another? Wouldn’t it be better to follow someone who has given up this world altogether?”

The two of them went back to their work.

Zilu reported this conversation to Confucius, who furrowed his brow and said, “I can’t flock with birds and beasts! Who am I supposed to keep company with, if not other human beings? If the Way prevailed in the world, I wouldn’t have to reform it!”