The story of Confucius was recorded in the book of Liezi. It is said that there was a man in the state of Song who was benevolent. His black cow gave birth to a white calf. He thought it was strange, so he asked Confucius.

Confucius did not give him any reason, he only said to him, “This is very auspicious! Give the calf to the gods!”

After a year, the man suddenly became blind. His cow gave birth to a white calf again, and he asked his son to ask Confucius again.

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The image is from File:British White calf trio.jpg – Wikimedia Commons.

The son said: “We asked him once, and your eyes suddenly turn blind, why should we ask him again?”

The father said, “The words and deeds of the saint are profound. Sometimes his words will not be seen until later. Ask him again.”

The son asked Confucius again.

This time Confucius still did not say anything, and said to him like he did last time: “This is a sign of good fortune, so go and give it to the gods!”

The son returned and told his father.

The father said, “Do as Confucius said.”

After another year, the son suddenly went blind as well.

Soon after, the state of Chu attacked the state of Song and surrounded the city. All the men, including the old and young, were recruited to fight the enemy, and most of them died on the battlefield. The father and son were exempt from the service because they were both blind. After the siege lifted, they were suddenly able to see again.

Afterward, the father and son understood what Confucius’s words meant.