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Marquis Yi of Zeng and his alter ego

CultureMarquis Yi of Zeng and his alter ego

Marquis Yi of Zeng, also known as Zeng Shen or Zengzi, was a Chinese nobleman and philosopher during the Warring States period (475-221 BCE). He is primarily known for his role as a student and disciple of Confucius, and for his efforts to preserve and promote Confucian teachings after Confucius’s death.

One of the most famous stories about Marquis Yi of Zeng involves his “alter ego,” a character he created to test his own humility and integrity. According to legend, Marquis Yi was once walking through the streets of his city when he overheard two peasants discussing him. One of the peasants praised Marquis Yi for his virtues and accomplishments, while the other criticized him as arrogant and self-centered.

Marquis Yi was pleased by the first peasant’s praise but troubled by the second’s criticism. He realized that he was in danger of becoming proud and arrogant, and that he needed to find a way to test his own character. So he decided to create an alter ego, a humble and virtuous man who would act as a counterpoint to his own privileged and powerful identity.

Marquis Yi began to dress in simple clothes and wander the streets of his city, pretending to be a poor and uneducated laborer. He would ask for advice from other scholars and philosophers, pretending to be ignorant and eager to learn. He also began to frequent local brothels and taverns, engaging in drinking and gambling with commoners and criminals.

Through his alter ego, Marquis Yi learned to see the world from a different perspective. He discovered the joys and sorrows of ordinary people, and he realized that his own wealth and power were not the most important things in life. He also tested his own character, resisting temptations to cheat or exploit others, and learning to be patient and humble in the face of criticism and insult.

Marquis Yi’s alter ego became famous throughout the region, and his true identity was eventually discovered by his own wife and children. But even after he revealed himself as the Marquis of Zeng, he continued to dress in simple clothes and to act with humility and kindness. He became known as a wise and benevolent ruler, respected by his subjects and admired by his peers.

The story of Marquis Yi’s alter ego is often cited as an example of Confucian values, such as humility, respect for others, and a commitment to self-improvement. It also shows the importance of testing one’s own character and seeking out diverse perspectives, in order to become a better person and a better leader.

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