A rich man, a billionaire, had three servants. One was very thoughtful, one was very prudent and the other one was very polite. The rich man was very pleased and liked them very much.
One time, the son of the rich man fell into a river by accident and was drowning. The second servant, who was very prudent, saw this. But he was so prudent that he went back to tell his master, "Master, your son just fell into the river. (Audience laughs.) May I save him? (Audience laughs.) Do you think we can save him or not? What's the best way? Both of us must discuss it." Of course, the rich man was very angry and threw him out.
By the time the rich man ran to save his son, it was too late. So, he ordered the first servant who was very thoughtful to buy a coffin to bury his son. Since this servant was a person who prepared for things that had not yet happened, he bought two coffins. (Master and audience laugh.) He was too thoughtful! His master was so angry and said, "I just had one son who died, why have you bought two coffins?"
The servant replied, "In case your second son dies, maybe drowns or any other kind of other accident, (audience laughs) we don't need to buy again. Saves time, saves gasoline!"
That rich man was extremely angry and threw him out!
Now there was just one servant left. The one who was very polite. The rich man was still very pleased with him. One day, he and another porter went out sightseeing with their master by sedan-chair. On the way, they passed a swamp where the water was not so deep. But if they crossed the water, their clothes would get dirty and wet. The porter hesitated. He didn't want to dirty his clothes, so he wanted to return home. However, the polite one said, "Don't go back! As long as our master is happy, we should go ahead. We, ourselves, are not important." Then they crossed the water without caring about themselves.
When the master heard that his servant was so loyal to him, he was very happy. He then said to the servant, "Since you are so thoughtful, so devoted and so faithful to me, I will give you many new clothes and raise your salary on arriving home."
As soon as the polite servant heard that, he put down the sedan-chair (that was the very moment while they were standing in the middle of the river), and answered with his palm joined, "Thank you for your goodness, master!" (Master and audience laugh.) He was too polite.
You see, there is not much difference comparing them with my disciples, is there? (Audience laughs.) They don't know how to see the situation and make a move. Everyone has his own quality, but uses it in the wrong place.
You remember that Confucius had many well-known disciples. Tze-lu was very brave and Zan-Chio was very prudent. But everyone only had his own quality. If you are too prudent, you won't know how to relax. If you are too brave, you won't know when to be humble. So, we know that it is not good to be an extremist. Although they were so good, they still came to learn from Confucius because he embodied all kinds of qualities -- brave but not too brave, humble but not too humble. He knew how to behave under any circumstances. He handled everything in a neutral manner and not too fanatically.
But most of us have a stiff-necked quality. If we used it in the right place, it would be good. If we used it in the wrong place, it would be bad. Just like we can use the electricity to light up a bulb, to make cold or hot air; but if we touched the electricity directly, we would be in trouble. Also, there are many remedies that can cure people; but an overdose will be harmful. We come to this world to learn how to be perfect, so we should have every quality and know how to use them appropriately. We can not say that because we are very brave, then we can rush without caring about anything. In ancient times there were many brave men who died due to a lack of wisdom. There are many examples in the stories of "The Feudal Regimes Of The East-Chou Dynasty." If we are brave but have no wisdom, we can hurt ourselves and others.