Bi Xi summoned Confucius, and the Master was inclined to go.
Zilu said, “In the past, Master, I have heard you say, ‘The gentleman does not enter into association with someone who treats badly those who are close to him.’ Bi Xi is using the city of Zhongmou to stage a rebellion against his superior. How could it be acceptable for you, Master, to go to him?”
The Master replied, “Yes, I have said that. But have I not also said, ‘[A gentleman is] so hard that grinding will not wear him down; so pure that dyeing will not stain him black’? Do you take me to be a bitter gourd, content to merely hang on a string without ever being eaten?”Confucius, & Slingerland, E. (2003). Analects: With selections from traditional commentaries. Hackett Publishing.
Bi Xi invited the Master to join him, and the Master wanted to go. Zilu said, In the past I have heard you say, When someone is personally doing what is not good, the gentleman will not go near him. Bi Xi has raised a revolt in Zhongmou. What reason could you have to go there?
The Master said, You are right—that’s what I said. But don’t people say, So hard, file it, but it never wears thin? And don’t they say, So white, dirty it, but it never turns black? Am I some sort of bitter melon? Can I go on hanging here and never be eaten?Confucius, & Watson, B. (2007). The Analects of Confucius. Columbia University Press.