献鸠选自《列子·说符》 列子，战国前期思想家，是老子和庄子之外的又一位道家思想代表人物，与郑缪公同时。其学本于黄帝老子，主张清静无为。后汉班固《艺文志》“道家”部分录有《列子》八卷。《列子》又名《冲虚经》，（于前450至前375年所撰）是早期黄老道家重要典籍。 现在流传的《列子》一书，在先秦曾有人研习过，经过秦火，刘向整理《列子》时存者仅为八篇，西晋遭永嘉之乱，渡江后始残缺。其后经由张湛搜罗整理加以补全。这篇寓言揭露了某些人只讲形式，不讲效果，沽名钓誉，假仁假义的伪善行为。不能只顾自己的利益，要为别人着想。这很明显地戳穿了封建统治者的虚伪性，放生建筑在杀生的基础上，而在逻辑上面又不得不低头承认。
It was the custom in Handan to catch doves to present to the prince on New Year's Day, for this pleased him so much that he gave rich rewards. Someone asked the prince the reason for this custom.
"I free the doves at New Year to show my kindness," he said.
"Since your subjects know you want doves to set free, they all set about catching them," objected the other. "And the result is that many doves are killed. If you really want to save the doves, you had better forbid people to catch them. As things are, you catch them to free them, and your kindness cannot make up for the damage you do."
The prince agreed with him.