Zizhang searched for Confucius throughout China. The country was going through a time of great social upheaval, and he feared there could be bloodshed.
He found the master sitting beneath a fig tree, meditating.
‘Master, we urgently need your presence in the government,’ said Zizhang. ‘We are on the brink of chaos.’
Confucius continued to meditate.
‘Master, you taught us that we must not stand idly by,’ Zizhang went on. ‘You said that we were responsible for the world.’
‘I am praying for the country,’ replied Confucius.
‘Later, I will go and help the man who lives round the corner. By doing what is within our reach, we benefit everyone.
‘By merely coming up with ideas about how to save the world, we do not even help ourselves.
‘There are a thousand ways of getting involved in politics; there is no need for me to be part of the government.’