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The story of Kong Rong
AFAR
10/12/2003



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Kong Rong (A.D. 153 to A.D. 208), also known as Wen Ju, the 20th generation descendent of Confucius, was a litterateur in the Lu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms after the ending of the East Han Dynasty. He was once appointed as governor of Beihai and was hence called Kong Beihai at that time. He also held a number of other official positions. As he was good-tempered and hospitable, his house was always full of guests. He was a noted poet and was one of the “Seven Famous Personages of Jian An.” The essays he wrote were incisive and concise. Most of them contained sarcastic words. Eventually he offended Cao Cao (Translator’s note: One of the rulers in the period of Three Kingdoms of Han Dynasty) and was executed by him.

“While still being a young son, he was amiable to teacher and friends, learning and practicing good manners. When Rong was four, he would give up pears to others, younger to elder, should know about it in advance.” This is a paragraph of the text San Zi Jing (Three Words Scripture) with which a schoolchild would be familiar in the past. The child mentioned in the paragraph who gave up his pears to others at the age of four was Kong Rong. Kong became famous when he was very young and was honored as “a child with outstanding talents.” It was recorded in The Biography of Rong’s Family that there were seven brothers in his family and Kong Rong was the sixth son. When he was four years old, every time the siblings ate pears, his elder brothers always took big ones. He, however, always picked up the small one. When asked by the adults of the family, he answered: “I ought to take the small one as I am the youngest child.” Hence, he was praised by the clan.

At the age of 10, Kong Rong came to the capital city Luo Yang along with his father. At that time, Li Ying, the governor of He Nan, was so renowned that “people who are met by him are called chosen ones.” Also, he “never met any guest casually.” He wouldn’t meet anyone who was not famous or not a relative of his. However, Kong Rong, in spite of being a child, insisted on seeing Li Ying. He said to the guardian of Li’s mansion, “I am a relative of Governor Li’s family, please pass my message to him.” After inviting him in, Li Ying asked: “What kind of relative are you to me?” Answered Kong Rong: “My ancestor Confucius and your ancestor Lao Zi once had the relationship of student and advisor and they were also friends. So, your family and my family have had a good relationship for generations.” All the people present unanimously marveled at the child’s intelligence on hearing what he said. Chen Wei, a senior official of Taizhong, came in late. Others told him what had happened. Chen Wei said: “Being bright and clever when he is young does not necessarily mean that he will be outstanding when he grows up.” Kong Rong answered subsequently: “You were most probably bright and clever when you were young!” Chen Wei felt quite embarrassed.

There is a saying “like father, like son.” If the father is a tiger, then the son will not be a dog. When Kong Rong was arrested by Cao Cao and was facing execution, everybody inside and outside the government was worried and afraid of being involved with him. The two sons of Kong Rong, however, continued to play together as if nothing had happened. They didn’t show a bit of worry or fear. Kong Rong begged the emissary who came to arrest the whole family, “I hope you lay the blame on me alone and spare my two sons’ lives.” His sons answered calmly without hurry: “Your Excellency, have you seen an unbroken egg under a nest that has been struck down?” This is the source of the famous saying “when the nest is overturned, can an egg stay unbroken?” (Translator’s note: Implies that in a great disaster no one can escape unscathed. )

Why are there “wonder children” who are self enlightened without being taught? Ancient wisdom says that this is because a person’s real thoughts and wisdom come from the person’s Primordial Spirit, and the Primordial Spirit has lived for many years, transmigrating over many lifetimes with memories of many lives. Kong Rong and his sons “having outstanding talents while young” happened because their Primordial Spirits were not young but mature.

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