Qu Yuan Wen Du (Qu Yuan Asks for Advice)
Qu Yuan [or Ch'ü Yüan ]

Wen du literally means to ask to be ferried over a body of water, but this has become a standard expression for asking for advice. Qu Yuan (or Ch'ü Yüan, 332-295 BC; see below) was famous as an upright minister not properly appreciated. His suicide at the Mi-luo River is still commemorated in the Dragon Boat Festival of the 5th of the 5th lunar month.

The following is extracted from Giles, A Chinese Biographical Dictionary,

"Ch'ü Yuan...caring no longer to live...went out to the bank of the Mi-lo river. There he met a fisherman who accosted him, saying,

'Are you not his Excellency the Minister? What has brought you to this pass?'

'The world,' replied Ch'ü Yuan, 'is foul, and I alone am clean. There they are all drunk, while I alone am sober. So I am dismissed.'

'Ah!' said the fisherman, 'the true sage does not quarrel with his environment, but adapts himself to it. If, as you say, the world is foul, why not leap into the tide and make it clean? If all men are drunk, why not drink with them and teach them to avoid excess?'

After some further colloquy, the fisherman rowed away; and Ch'ü Yuan, clasping a large stone in his arms, plunged into the river and was seen no more...."