One day, Marquis Wen, head of the state of Wei (r. 424-387 bc) and hailed as a great patron of scholars, asked Tian Zifang, sitting in attendance, why he never took the trouble to mention who was his master. It is Shun (Docile) of the Eastern Wall, replied the counselor to his lord. After which he offered this description, taut and terse in wording, but long-lasting in effect:
This man is truthfulness incarnate. He has the semblance of a human being, but inside the vacuity of Heaven. He holds fast to his authenticity while stringing along. In his purity, he can encompass everything. If someone is led astray, he makes him come to his senses by dint of his upright countenance. In his presence, people’s intentions just evaporate. How could someone like me be qualified to mention him?
The impact of Tian Zifang’s words on the marquis of Wei is overwhelming:
After Tian Zifang took leave, Marquis Wen remained dumbfounded;...