During the spring and Autumn period, the once powerful state of Ji perished. Qi Jing highway passed the old state of Ji and went to see it. It was full of rubble, overgrown with weeds and a desolate scene.
Before leaving, an attendant picked up a gold pot from the ruins in the distance and presented it to Duke Qi Jing.
Qi Jinggong took the golden pot, opened the lid and looked inside. He found two inscriptions engraved in the pot: “eat fish without reaction, don’t ride a slow horse”. Qi Jinggong read it aloud and explained: “eating fish is no reaction. He hates the fishy smell of fish, so he doesn’t turn the fish over and continue to eat; don’t ride a slow horse. He hates that a bad horse doesn’t run fast and far.”
At this time, Prime Minister Yan Ying said, “the king is bad. I don’t think so.”
“What do you mean?”
Yan Ying replied: “to eat fish is to keep the next side of the fish and not eat it, so as not to exhaust the people’s strength; to ‘don’t ride on a slow horse’ is to warn the king not to place immoral and talented ministers around him.”
Qi Jinggong didn’t believe it: “since the state of Ji has such a good inscription, why will it perish?”
Yan Ying said: “because of good systems and ideas, kings should keep them in mind and implement them, so that people can feel that there will be hope; rather than engraved in a golden pot to make it dull and flashy.”
After hearing this, Qi Jinggong nodded and praised.
Good things don’t need to be used. No matter how good they are, they are also furnishings. Only when they are put into practice can they have effect.