Chinese Emperor Yáo 堯 tried to talk ascetic Xǔ Yóu 許由 into taking over and rule the country. Xǔ Yóu simple left and went to mount Zhong Yue to continue his ascetic practice.
Later the emperor pursued him and again respectfully requested that Xǔ Yóu reconsidered. Xǔ Yóu got up abruptly and went to the nearby river to wash his ears.
Another ascetic called Cháo Fǔ 巢父 happened to bring his buffalo to the river for water too. Cháo Fǔ asked Xǔ Yóu why he was washing his ears. Xǔ Yóu recounted the emperor’s proposal. Cháo Fǔ said, “I was planning on letting my buffalo get some water. I am afraid the water here has been polluted.” He then brought his buffalo upstream to drink water.
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The ancients had such high standards for purity. It is inconceivable that Xǔ Yóu deemed necessary to go wash his ears when hearing about the fame and profit proposal from the emperor.
Furthermore, Cháo Fǔ was so pure that he would not let his own buffalo get smeared.