Zigong challenges conventional wisdom

子貢曰:「紂之不善,不如是之甚也。是以君子惡居下流,天下之惡皆歸焉。」
Zigong said: “Zhouxin can’t have been as evil as people say. That is why a leader hates to dwell downstream. All the world’s effluent finds its way to him.”

By challenging the conventional wisdom about Zhouxin (紂辛), the depraved last king of the Yin or Shang Dynasty whose name became a byword for evil, Zigong is warning people to stay on the high ground (ie behave in a proper fashion) to avoid the same fate.

As he so succinctly concludes, once a person dwells downstream (ie has earned a bad reputation) “all the world’s effluent finds its way to him.”

Zhouxin was first mentioned in Chapter I of Book 18.

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