Stories from Ancient China: Talented Officials More Valuable than Auspicious Omens

It is documented in the book The Great History Writings Zi Zhi Tong Jian - the Tang Dynasty that during the rule of the Emperor Taizhong, white birds built a nest above the palace. The nest was small in the middle and large at either end, as if two nests had been pushed together, similar to a waist drum. All his officials complimented the birds, saying, "Most things in this world don't like to be combined because of their lack of tolerance. Look at how these two bird nests have merged to become one with a special shape. It is truly remarkable--a reflection of the harmony existing between heaven and earth, and the virtue of Your Majesty, our Emperor. We really need to celebrate this event."

Taizhong said, "I often laughed at the Sui Emperor, who did not pay attention to talented officials but liked auspicious omens. As a result, his country perished. In my opinion, what is truly auspicious is having talented officials managing our country well, and having our people be happy and content. As for the rare birds and wonderful beasts, they are only slightly different from ordinary things. How can we celebrate this?" He then ordered the nest to be destroyed and the birds to be returned to the wild.


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