Min Ziqian (閔子騫), also known by the formal name of Min Sun (閔損), was another of Confucius’s compatriots from the state of Lu and one of his favorite followers.
Min Ziqian lived from 523-487 BCE, and was renowned for the filial devotion he was said to have shown during his miserable childhood. After the untimely death of his own mother, he suffered terrible abuse from his father’s second wife, almost dying of cold on one occasion after she had lined his clothes with weeds rather than warm cotton. But when his father threatened to throw his step-mother out of the house, Ziqian interceded on her behalf, telling him that if he did that three of his sons would suffer while if she stayed on only one would go cold. The stepmother was so touched by his kindness that she never treated him badly afterwards.
No doubt influenced by Confucius, Min Ziqian became a philosopher himself, espousing a conservative creed focused on restoring old traditions rather than implementing new reforms. Like Confucius, he was highly critical of the of Ji Kangzi (季康子) the regent of the state of Lu, and yearned for a return to the no-doubt mythical golden age under the Duke of Zhou.
When the head of the Ji Family sent an invitation to Min Ziqian to become governor of the town of Bi, he replied to the messenger: “Please convey my regrets. If anyone comes with a second invitation, I will be obliged to go and live on the other side of the River Wen.”
Virtuous conduct: Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu, Ran Yong. Eloquent speech: Zai Yu, Zigong. Government and administration: Ran Qiu, Zilu. Cultural accomplishments: Ziyou, Zixia.
Confucius said: “Min Ziqian is such a filial son! Nobody differs from his parents and brothers in their praise of him.”
When at Confucius’s side, Min Ziqian looked respectful; Zilu looked feisty; Ran Qiu and Zigong looked relaxed. Confucius joked. “A man like Zilu will not die a natural death.”
Certain people in Lu were planning to demolish the Long Treasury and rebuild it. Min Ziqian said: “Why not just repair the old structure? Why build a new one?” Confucius said: “This man rarely speaks, but when he does he hits the mark.”