Yan Hui (514 -483), literary name Ziyuan and also called Yanzi (Master Yan), was poor, but he was the favorite disciple of Confucius, who would visit him when not otherwise busy. Since all of the Master's students had to understand music Yanzi of course did as well. The passage here from Qin Shi includes story, apparently from Liezi, in which Yan Hui plays the qin for Confucius. No title is given for the melody.
- Qin Shi #19
"True image of Yan Hui" 3
Yasheng Cao is a later melody written in praise of Yan Hui.3 And he can also be connected to the melody Xuan Mei because Zhuangzi relates Yan Hui telling Confucius that he can just "sit and forget"
The Qin Shi entry is as follows (original below):
Yan Hui, style name Ziyuan, had great ethics that were only slightly different from those of Confucius. He was ("missing passage") a close disciple of Confucius. As for not yet understanding what brought pleasure, could this be applied to Ziyuan? It was such things as eating from a plain bowl, drinking from a gourd, and living in a poor alleyway: others could not have endured this, but (Yan) Hui still enjoyed himself. He knew the highest form of pleasure. (Once when) Confucius was relaxing at home, Zigeng came to serve him and noticed that (Confucius) had a sad demeanor. Zigeng did not dare ask about this, but went out and told Yan Hui. Yan Hui then took up his qin and sang. On hearing this Confucius called for Yan Hui to come in and asked him, "Why are you enjoying yourself alone?" Yan Hui answered, "I rejoice in heaven and know about destiny and so have no worries." Confucius said, "You merely know the not worrying part of rejoicing in heaven and knowing destiny, and thus having no worries. You do not know that rejoicing in heaven and knowing destiny is actually the greatest worry. This rejoicing and knowing is not the ancients' so-called rejoicing and knowing. Not rejoicing and not knowing are the true rejoicing and the true knowing. Therefore, there is nothing not to rejoice and nothing not to know, nothing not to worry about and nothing that is not anything." Yan Hui then raised his hands in respect and said, "I got it." For the rest of his life he never stopped playing, singing or intoning from books.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
Yan Hui (Wiki)
44545.35 顏回, son of .143 無繇 Wuyou (a former student of Confucius), style name 子淵 Ziyuan. Later names include:
- 顏子 Yanzi: "Master Yan"
- 復聖 Fusheng (simplified 复圣 hence sometimes written 复聖): "Continuator of the Sage"
- 亞聖 Yasheng "Proximate Sage". For
Yasheng Cao I originally translated this as "secondary sage", short for "sage of secondary rank" or "second only to the Sage himself", but without such qualification it implies minor, so I later changed the translation to "proximate sage"; Yan Hui was one of a few people so named.
Yan Hui's qin playing is discussed in the book of Liezi.
10 lines, as follows:
Image: 顏回真影 True Image of Yan Hui
From an old woodblock print copied in
孔子聖蹟圖 Traces of the Sage Confucius, p.140.
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