Zi Chan was a statesman who lived in Zheng during the Spring and Autumn
period, some 2,500 years ago. Confucius praised his wisdom highly. Zi Chan was
so smart and so kind that Chinese people still honor him today. He helped the
poor and rescued those in danger. He enjoyed doing good, and in particular, he
never liked to kill anything.
One day a friend sent him a present, several live fish. They were fat and
looked delicious. They would certainly make a delicious meal! When Zi Chan
received this gift, he was very grateful that his friend was so thoughtful. He
accepted the gift happily. Then he called his servant.
"Take these fish and put them in the fishpond in the yard."
His servant said, "Master, this kind of fish is a rare delicacy. If you put
them in the fishpond, the water is not as clear as a mountain stream's, so their
flesh will not be as soft, and they will not taste as good. You should eat them
Zi Chan smiled, "I am the boss here. Do as you are told. How could I murder
these poor, innocent fish just for the sake of their taste? I couldn't bear to
The servant had to obey orders. As she poured the fish into the pond, she
told them, "You sure are lucky fish! If you had been given to anybody but my
master, you would already be cooking in the wok by now!"