Moral Integrity and Trust: A Virtue and a Responsibility

August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 2 Comments
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March 27, 2009 | By Zhizhen

(Clearwisdom.net) Traditional Chinese culture was imparted by gods, and it has a very long history. Ancient Chinese people emphasized moral cultivation, and they considered moral integrity and trust as the most fundamental element of moral cultivation.

From the process of heaven and earth having given birth to all things and nurtured all things, the ancient Chinese people have seen the universe’s characteristic of truthfulness and non-deception. They called this characteristic “integrity or honesty.” They stressed that human beings should pursue moral integrity and be in accord with heavenly principles. From the structure of the Chinese character, “trust” (pronounced as “xin“), one can see that this character is a combination of two characters, “human” (pronounced as “yen“) and “human’s words” (pronounced as “yan“). Therefore, the Chinese character “trust” means that “human’s words are trustworthy.” As a result, in Chinese culture there are the following sayings about “trust”: “A promise is worth one thousand ounces of gold;” “Promises must be kept, and action must be resolute;” and “A promise cannot be taken back once it is made;” and so on. There are many stories about ancient Chinese people being honest and trustworthy and keeping their promises.

For example, Confucius taught his students to hold such an attitude toward learning and knowledge, “What you know, you know, what you don’t know, you don’t know.” That is, it is true knowledge when one acknowledges what one knows and admits what one does not know. One should not be presumptuous and should be modest. One should fit one’s actions to the words, and “A gentleman takes it as a disgrace to let his words outstrip his deeds.” According to Lun Yu (Analects of Confucius), when Confucius talked about how a person cultivates himself or treats others, he repetitively mentioned “trust,” “An individual cannot establish him- or herself without honesty and trust.” When Confucius talked about governing a nation, he said, “People cannot be governed without trust.” So he believed that “trust” was even more important than the army or food.

In the Northern Song Dynasty, when young Fan Zhongyan (a very famous scholar and prime minister in the Song Dynasty, who had very high morality) was still studying in Suiyang, he got to know an alchemist. One day, the alchemist got a serious illness, and he asked someone to find Fan Zhongyan. He told Fan, “I have a secret alchemy recipe. My son is still young and I cannot teach him the Golden Touch skill. Now I will let you help keep this secret recipe.” The alchemist sealed, in a package, the secret recipe as well as one jin (about one pound) of platinum that he had made through alchemy, and he handed the package to Fan. He then died. Several years later Fan became a government official who served in the role of providing criticisms and suggestions to the government. He found that alchemist’s son and told him, “Your father had the magical Golden Touch skill. When he passed away, you were still very young, and he let me keep this secret recipe for you. Now you have grown up, and I should hand it to you.” He then took out that package that contained the recipe and the platinum and handed it to the alchemist’s son. The seal mark was still intact, proving that the package had never been opened.

Fan Zhongyan’s son, Fan Chunren, likewise followed his father’s will. When he governed Luoyang, he brought happiness to the local community through his moral integrity and honesty. Because of his governing, “no one pocketed anything found on the road, and no families needed to bar their doors at night.” Once in the place of Baisimapo when an old man sat under the sun by a wall, someone came to tell him, “Your family’s yellow calf has been stolen.” After hearing the message, the old man still sat there; he did not move at all, nor did he say a word. A moment later, another person came and told him again about the loss of the calf. The old man peacefully told that person, “You do not need to look for it. It must be someone who wanted to make a joke and has hidden it.” Those who passed by felt strange and they asked the man, “Sir, your family has lost a cow. Others told you this again and again, but why don’t you care about it.” The old man said with a smile, “Since Mr. Fan has lived here, who would want to become a thief? This is in no way possible.” A moment later, the calf came back as expected.

There was another story about moral integrity and trust, which is called “Zhong Shiheng does not break his promise to the Qiang people.” Zhong Shiheng was a famous general in the Northern Song Dynasty. When he went to Qingjian City to guard the border of the nation, he visited the tribes of the Qiang people inside the border. Niujia Tribe leader Nu-E was stubborn and conceited, and he did not obey the local regulations of the Song Dynasty. Zhong Shiheng made an appointment with Nu-E; Zhong would visit the tribe to show that he cared about the people. Then, unexpectedly, a big snow fell in the evening, and it was very difficult to travel the next day. Furthermore, Nu-E’s tribe was located in remote mountains, which was hard to reach. Zhong’s subordinates tried to persuade him to go there on another day. However, Zhong insisted on keeping his promise. Nu-E thought that Zhong would definitely not come in such a big snow. Surprisingly, Zhong showed up, which made Nu-E admire Zhong very much. Nu-E quickly gathered his people to come to listen to Zhong’s words. Ever since then, various Qiang tribes continued to follow Zhong. Since Zhong’s army had not caused trouble for the local people, his army had won the hearts of the people there and had gotten along very well with the local people. The Qiang people called the army “Zhong’s Army.” Later whenever the Xixia (a warring state of the Song Dynasty) army came to invade the country, the Qiang people always immediately informed Zhong of the invasion, and they exerted effort to help Zhong’s army. Thus Zhong’s army won each and every battle, which made the border return to peace.

Moral integrity and trust is the fundamental principle that one should follow when one conducts oneself and lives in society. It is a basic requirement of human nature, human values, as well as human responsibilities. It is a virtue. It is even more so a responsibility. Ancient Chinese people often used the criterion of “extreme honesty” to restrict themselves, manage their relationships with others, and improve the morality of society. However, in the current society, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not value moral integrity and trust. It has always used its lies to brainwash people. It has persecuted those who dare to speak out about the truth. It has been persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, who follow the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. As a result, the CCP has caused a rapid degeneration in the social morality. At present, when heaven is about to eliminate the CCP, more and more people have withdrawn from the CCP and its related organizations, and they have thus chosen righteousness and conscience. This is really a wise choice.

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