By Doing Good We Benefit Ourselves

January 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | 1 Comment
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To the reader,

Enjoy this wonderful story from the Qing Dynasty (the last dynasty of China). It’s very touching. I hope this story will inspire compassionate thoughts in your life. Have a great day, and a wonderful new year!

Kind regards,
June Taylor

August 04, 2012 | By Chufan

(Minghui.org) A broker in the Qing dynasty, Mr. Zhang, crossed the Yangtze River from the north to Jiangning, also known as Nanjing, to collect a debt. He planned to return home for the New Year holiday right before the year ended. With his belongings on his shoulder, he left very early, but had to wait under the eave of a building in the market for the city gate to be opened.

After waiting for some time, Mr. Zhang got so tired that he gave up, put down his cloth bag filled with gold and silver, sat on it, and closed his eyes to rest. When the city gate opened, he rushed to the gate with his belongings on his shoulder, completely forgetting the cloth bag he had been sitting on. When he realized he did not have the bag with him, it was more than one li (~0.3 mile) away. He immediately hurried back to the site. But the marketplace was already crowded with people and his bag was gone.

Mr. Zhang frowned and hovered nearby, hoping that someone might return his bag. An elderly man appeared and asked what had happened. He listened, then invited Mr. Zhang to his home and said, “I found a bag on the ground when I opened the door this morning. I don’t know if it is yours.” Mr. Zhang replied, “Inside the bag are two envelopes, each with a certain amount of silver bullion. The larger one belongs to my boss and the smaller one is mine.” The elderly man checked the items in the bag, which were exactly as Mr. Zhang had described. He thus returned the bag to Mr. Zhang.

Mr. Zhang was moved to tears and wished to thank him by giving him his own silver bullion. The elderly man smiled and replied, “I would not have told you about the bag if I loved money so much. Do you understand?” Mr. Zhang asked the elderly man his name and left for home.

When Mr. Zhang was waiting by the river for the ferry, a strong wind suddenly started up. Many boats capsized, and many passengers were drowning. Seeing this terrible scene, Mr. Zhang had a compassionate thought: “I recovered the lost bullion today. Without it, I would have been dead. I indeed regained my life.” Using all of his own money, he hired people to rescue those who were drowning. Several dozen people were saved by his compassionate thought.

All the survivors came to thank Mr. Zhang for saving them. One of them happened to be the son of the elderly man who had returned Mr. Zhang’s lost bag to him. He was on his way home to Nanjing after finishing business in the north area of the Yangtze River. Mr. Zhang was surprised about this. He then told his own story to those present, and everyone was amazed at the miracle. They realized it must be the heavenly law of good is rewarded with good. Later, these two families became relatives by marriage.

In this story, the elderly man did not keep the fortune he found for himself and did not ask for a reward for doing a good deed. He not only saved Mr. Zhang during his hardship, but also planted a seed in Mr. Zhang’s heart to do good deeds, thus laying an opportunity for his own son to be saved later.

Can you imagine what might have happened if the elderly man had kept it for himself? Mr. Zhang might have killed himself over the huge financial loss, and in turn, would not have had the chance to save many people from drowning, including the son of the elderly man. Even if Mr. Zhang did not die and was compassionate toward those who were drowning, he would not have had the money to hire people to help rescue them. On the other hand, it would have been worse if Mr. Zhang had not cared about those who were drowning because of his own misfortune.

An old saying advises, “Doing good deeds without seeking repayment will inspire others to be compassionate and resolve your own tribulation; helping people in need will help them accumulate money to do good deeds and you will receive help from others.

Finally, the following saying provides sound advice, “It is better do small good deeds to build up fortune for the future than to sigh over the decline in morality; it is better to help others every day so that you might be helped in hard times than to sigh over degenerate morals.”

Story from Xi Chao Xin Yu by Xu Xiling and Qian Young, Qing Dynasty

Chinese version available

CATEGORY: Traditional Art and Culture

Two Ancient Stories of Honoring Teachers

October 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discoveries, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 2 Comments
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August 31, 2012 | By Zhi Zhen

(Minghui.org) The emphasis of discipline and showing respect to one’s teacher are traditional values found in ancient Chinese culture, and such sayings as “A teacher to a student is like a father to a son,” and “A teacher even for one day should be respected as a father forever” were common. A student looks to his teacher as a profound person akin to his father, thus calling him “gracious teacher” or “master.” Teachers impart ethics, knowledge and values to their students. They teach people proper manners for interacting with each other, and for handling things in society at large. While learning from the teacher, a student must not only clearly understand the principle of respectfully serving the teacher from his heart, but also faithfully performing what the teacher imparts to him. Below are a few examples of how the ancients respected their teachers.

Emperors Yao and Shun Honored Xu You

Xu You was a noble scholar in ancient China with high moral standards. He considered moral principles more important than personal gain, and according to the book “Zhuangzi” he was Emperor Yao’s teacher. The “Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals states that he was also the teacher of Emperor Shun. All three were considered to be sages.

The land of China was peaceful and prosperous during the reign of Emperor Yao. Although Emperor Yao appointed many wise persons to assist with the governance of the country, he was still worried about possibly overlooking many qualified people. To uncover those people, Emperor Yao often searched everywhere, including outlying villages and remote mountains. When Emperor Yao heard of a man called Xu You who was virtuous and had high morals, he traveled a long way to visit him. After a conversation, Xu realized that Emperor Yao was indeed the Emperor. Emperor Yao admired Xu for his profound knowledge in the universe’s principles, and asked him to be his teacher.

After returning to the palace, Emperor Yao thought of handing over his reign to Xu. He thus asked the Secretary of Agriculture to take care of the nation’s business and set out to invite Xu to the palace. When he met Xu in a low-lying area, Emperor Yao was very respectful to him and treated him as his teacher. Emperor Yao said: “I, your student, am poor in virtue and weak in ability. When I took over the country, I made a vow that I would rule it temporarily. I said that I would visit all sages and invite one of them to lead the country. I thoroughly believe that your ability and virtues are as bright as the sun and moon, and no sage can eclipse you. I am willing to give you the country. It will be good for the people if you accept this offer without hesitation.” Xu responded: “You have led the country to peace and prosperity and made people rich and happy. This credit is yours. If I were to take over credit and your job, wouldn’t it mean that I am doing it to gain fame?” Emperor Yao persistently tried to persuade Xu to take the position, but Xu firmly declined. When Emperor Yao when to visit Xu the next day, he was gone, and no one knew where he went.

Emperor Yao continuously searched for Xu and finally located him one year later, farming on the foothills of Songshan mountain. While working on the land one day, Xu heard someone approaching and yelling “Teacher.” Xu looked up and saw Emperor Yao. He was surprised and asked: “What does the Emperor come here for? Is there anything I can do?” Emperor Yao said: “I planned to let you be in charge of the country last time because I was afraid that my poor ability and virtue might mislead the people. It was unexpected that Teacher declined the position and left. I have now been sincerely asking anyone with sublime virtues to assist me in ruling the country. After carefully thinking, no one is better to do this than Teacher. I thus come again to sincerely ask you to become the head of the Nine States (these were the territorial divisions of the nation at that time). It will be fortunate not only for me but for everyone in the country if you accept the position.” Hearing this, Xu said: “I do not understand what you said. I have never heard of anyone being head of the Nine States, only the Emperor, and that is you.” Emperor Yao explained: “Originally, there was no such title. I created it for you to show my sincerity. Please accept it.” Xu declined again and moved away to live as a hermit in a solitary place, and could no longer be found. The people knew of this story and praised Emperor Yao for his generosity and humility, and Xu You for his virtue.

When Emperor Shun was farming at Lishan, he often gave away fertile lands to others because of his righteous virtues. Within six months, farmers were politely taking barren lands and also left the fertile lands for others. Emperor Shun was well respected in Lishan, so much so that he, instead of the government, was sometimes asked to judge and settle arguments. Because of him, many people moved to live in Lishan, causing this outlying area to gradually grow into a prosperous region. Everyone there called Emperor Shun the sage, adding: “Everyone the sage meets will indeed be assimilated. The sage teaches us justice and giving, instead of taking and corruption.”

When touring Chishan one time after farming, Emperor Shun saw an elderly man walking towards him. The man then suddenly tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. Emperor Shun rushed to help him and let him sit down to rest. Emperor Shun asked the man his name and where he lived. The man answered: “Why do you ask? I have not told people my name for many years.” Then the elderly man asked about his name. When Emperor Shen told him his name, the man smiled and said: “Oh! You are the one. I have heard so much about you. Alright, I will tell you my name, but just keep it between us.” After Emperor Shun promised repeatedly, the elderly man said: “My name is Xu You.” Emperor Shun immediately knelt on the ground and bowed his head to show his respect. He said to Xu: “Where do you live? I will walk you home.” Xu smiled: “That is very good of you. Thank you. I live on the other side of Chishan.” Emperor Shun replied: “It is my honor.” After talking to Emperor Shun at his home, Xu accepted the request to be his teacher. The next day, Emperor Shun presented a lot of gifts to Xu for accepting him as his student. Emperor Shun learned many principles from Xu You, which helped guide him to become a heavenly-inspired, benevolent emperor.

Zeng Shen Sincerely Complied with the Teachings

Zeng Shen became a student of Confucius at the age of 16. He was studious and sincerely compliant with his master’s teachings, and became the main successor and disseminator of Confucianism, playing an important connecting role between generations in Confucius culture. His motto, “multiple self-reflections daily,” meant that he repeatedly examined himself every day to determine whether he had done his best for others, been honest to his friends, or reviewed his teacher’s homework diligently.

There is a classical story called “Zeng Shen showing his respect,” in which Confucius asked Zeng one time when Zeng was sitting next to him: “Former kings had sublime virtues and profound theories that they used to teach their people. Do you know why people could live in harmony and there was no dissatisfaction between the kings and their subordinates?” Knowing that Confucius was going to teach him profound principles, Zeng immediately got up and stood beyond the edge of the mat. He then respectfully answered: “I am not wise enough to know the reason. Please teach me.” This was a demonstration of great respect for the teacher. People have later learned this etiquette from Zeng Shen.

After returning to the State of Lu from Chu with Confucius, Zeng farmed during the day and studied in the evening until midnight every day. He was poor because he did not hold any official position. The king of Lu heard the good virtues of Zeng, and decided to bestow him with a piece of land. Zeng declined the offer, citing that he could not accept the land without doing any work to earn it. The king’s envoy advised him: “Why don’t you accept, since you did not ask for it?” Zeng sincerely replied: “I often hear that a giver has pride, while a receiver is humble. Even though the giver is not prideful, how can I not be humble?” Knowing that, Confucius praised him: “Zeng’s words have proved his moral integrity.”

After Confucius died, Zeng and other students such as Zi Xia, Zi Zhang, Zi You and You Ruo went into a period of mourning for three years. At the end of the mourning period, they bowed in unison to Confucius’ grave and then left in tears. Zi Xia, Zi Zhang and Zi You then proposed: “Since You Ruo looks like teacher, we can make believe that he is Confucius and serve him as sincerely and courteously as we did Confucius. Doing so would show our respect for teacher.” Zeng became very angry and was opposed to the idea. He said assertively: “We should not do this. Teacher’s virtue was so clean, like being washed by the clear river water, and so bright, like being bathed by the autumn sunshine. His virtue was also as glorious as the vast universe. How can he be compared to someone who just looks like him?” They we astonished at what Zeng said, and were deeply moved by his sincerity to his teacher and his meticulous etiquette.

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Tales From the Practice of Medicine: Lack of Forbearance Can Ruin Health

October 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today | Leave a comment
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By Yu Lin

A patient whom I will call Rita came to me to treat her Parkinson’s disease. In traditional Chinese medicine, Parkinson’s disease is called “trembling paralysis.” 

Rita was referred to me by a doctor of Western medicine. She had been suffering from this ailment for three years. Both her hands trembled, but the right one trembled more severely than the left.

When Rita tried to eat, the food always fell to the floor before it reached her mouth because of her severe trembling. Although there were improvements after I treated her for a while, they were always followed by relapses.

After several relapses, I began to carefully inquire about recent events in her life. She related her story to me about events that had tormented her for the past three years.

While she was telling the story, her mood changed from one of tranquility to agitation, then anger, followed by sorrow. It was then that I understood the real cause of her illness and how the affliction arose.

“My husband and I own and operate a company that transports shipping containers, and we have a villa on an island. Along with our neighbor, we were the only residents of the island, and we shared a common private road. Because the road was in disrepair, we proposed that we share expenses to repair it, but they declined and we had no alternative but to do it ourselves.

“We never imagined that the contractor who repaired the road would inadvertently leave a pile of rocks in the middle of the road, which greatly inconvenienced the neighbors when they used the road.

“They thought that we had acted rashly in anger and had it done on purpose. So they closed a gate on their property, blocking a short cut we had been using to get to our villa. We then had to drive several extra miles to reach our home.

“My husband started talking about their actions with foul language and then in anger cut off their water supply. We had installed the water supply system, and the neighbor connected to it in order to save money.

“They almost went mad with anger and cemented a pile of stones in the middle of the road, thus completely blocking our way home. This cost us $2,000 worth of road repairs, and we became absolutely irreconcilable enemies. On top of that, the most intolerable thing was that both of us had to seek legal assistance, which ended up costing about $2 million!

“For the past three years, we have not been able to live in the villa. And the neighbors cannot live in their home either. Our conflict is now at the stage of a life-and-death struggle. Because the court has not delivered a verdict, we are unable to sell the villa, and we cannot live there but must keep up the maintenance of the house. …”

As she spoke, I could see she was trembling with anger. Her face was red, and she appeared to be on the borderline of collapse.

Seeing her pain and anger, I could see the root of the recurring relapses. Anger adversely affects the liver, thereby causing irritation and more anger. With this being the case, it causes discomfort, harming the flow of energy, the spirit, and the body.

It did not occur to her that the fight with her neighbor was nothing when measured against her own life. In fact, with just one thought, the conflict could have been easily dispelled, but now, because of small-mindedness, the dispute continued endlessly with much money spent in vain, and with only constant misery left.

I knew that her illness could not be cured with medicine alone, but rather must be cured from its root. So I spoke to Rita about forbearance, explaining the principle to her.

I told her, “Take a step back, as the sea and sky are boundless, and endure a bit, as even a flower will bloom in the shade of the willow tree.”

After listening to me, Rita said that if she had heard those words three years ago, she would have never allowed the situation to develop to what it was today.

I talked to her about the principles of “Zhen Shan Ren” (truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance), and about Falun Dafa, a meditation and exercise practice. I also spoke to her about reincarnation and the reciprocating effects of karma.

It was the first time she had heard of these principles. “Oh, my! Is it true that we have deviated so far from truth, compassion, and forbearance that such tribulations are upon us? Is it because we have done many bad deeds in our past lives, and now owe lots of debts to others?” she asked.

“Is that why we are suffering such retributions? Is it correct to suppose that they are warnings for us? Perhaps God allows us to be humans so that we can show kindness to others.”

Her hands stopped trembling. As she left, she said to me, “Doctor, you have assuaged my three years of depression and resentment.”

I did not say more but just watched as she walked away with a huge sigh of relief.

Translated from Zhengjian.org

Dreams and Truth — Secret of a Scale

August 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discoveries, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Author:

Tai Ping, Ed.

[PureInsight.org] What is a dream? Modern science posits that dreaming is a kind of nerve activity of the cerebral cortex during sleep. However, many people clearly see future activities or omens in their dreams. Some people see other kinds of pictures or lives. Many of these events actually happen later. These are some of the things that modern science is unable to explain. In fact, from a cultivation point of view, some dreams occur when a person’s Primordial Spirit (yuanshen) has left the human body, gone to another dimension and has seen the scenery there. Or lives in other dimensions reveal the scene to him or her. Of course, there are other complicated reasons for having dreams. Many dreams have no direct relation to a person at all. I will share with you a strange dream from historical records.

During the Ming Dynasty, there was a wealthy man who became rich from selling products from southern China in his grocery store. He had one son and two grandsons and had a very happy family. Later, he became sick and bed-ridden. Before he died, he gave a weighing scale to his son and very seriously told him: “This scale is a treasure that helped me build up my wealth. It is made from black wood. The scale is hollow inside and filled with mercury. When one sells things to a customer, one should push the scale slightly upward. The mercury will go to the head of the scale. The customer will think that the product weighs more than its actual weight. When you buy products to stock up, you push the scale down a little, so the mercury moves to the end of the scale. The seller will think that the product weighs less than its actual weight . In this way I have taken advantage of many people. That is how I built up my wealth.”

The son was very shocked when he heard this. How could his father do such an immoral thing? He did not argue with him because his father was very ill. After his father died, he burned the scale. He did his best to do all kinds of charitable acts. He comforted people who were in danger and helped poor people. He took care of disabled and old people. He always worried that he hadn’t done enough good to compensate for his father’s unscrupulous deeds. Because of his kindness and sincerity, he exhausted half of his family fortune within three years. He was not unhappy because this is what he wanted to do. But his two sons died one after another. He felt sad because he thought that his good deeds were being rewarded with calamity! So he often sighed that the gods were ignorant and that good and evil were reversed. Unavoidably he held a little hatred in his heart.

One night, he had a dream in which he saw a palace where an official presided. The official told him: “Your father was supposed to be wealthy because of his generosity in a previous life. Even if he hadn’t used the scale, he would still be rich. But he used that scale with such bad intent. Additionally, he obtained a lot of karma. Yet he didn’t repent even as he was dying. Therefore, he will suffer hardship to pay it back. This was just his foolishness. Because of his evil deeds, God sent two angels called Broke and Consumption to become your sons to squander your family’s wealth. The original plan was that after they squandered all your wealth, what was left of your property would be burned down. Because of your father, you wouldn’t have enough food and clothing. Moreover you would not live long. Your father thought that he could leave a lot of wealth to his son and grandsons and that they would enjoy life without worrying about anything. There was no way for him to know that his son would not live long, or that his grandsons had come to ruin his family. Fortunately, you have a compassionate heart that is enough to compensate for your father’s sin. God has observed you for three years and found that you are always sincere and honest, which is a very rare thing. Therefore, God decided to call back the two angels. In the near future, you will have virtuous children and exceptional descendants. In addition, your life will be prolonged. You should diligently cultivate your kindness without hatred in your heart.” After he awakened, the son was suddenly enlightened. From then on, he was always very determined to be kind to other people. Later, he had two sons, who both passed imperial civil examinations and won honors for the family.

After reading this historical record, I cannot help but think how well the principle of “good is rewarded with good, and evil is met with evil” works. Because living beings cannot see causal relationships, they dare to do evil things. They don’t believe in retribution. Moreover, they even spread corrupt principles such as “Nice guys finish last” to attract people to do wrong. They don’t know that true justice is real and fair. Because people have different blessings, virtue, and predestined relationships, retribution will be different for each person. Good deeds are rewarded with good, evil deeds with retribution.

Therefore, in the process of Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong, some people have ill-gotten wealth from catching, beating, fining and betraying Falun Gong practitioners. They don’t know that their behavior has planted the roots for their future punishment. If they do not grasp the opportunity to rectify the wrong deeds, it will be too late to regret.

This material was from “Moral Collection.”

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/4/5/26562.html

Honor Heaven and Understand One’s Responsibility, Follow the Dao That Guides One’s Behavior

August 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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(Clearwisdom.net) The ancient Chinese honored and respected heaven’s will. They believed that when one is attuned to heaven’s will one can understand human affairs and act righteously. The ancients observed, studied, and hypothesized about the movement, changes, and rules that govern the universe and nature. The findings allowed them to understand the ever-evolving human society and the rules that govern mankind’s existence. Based on that, they deduced that the principles of moral conduct should harmonize with heaven and earth and prevent one from deviating from the righteous path.

According to Shi Ji (Records of the Grand Historian), there lived a virtuous court official, Sima Jizhu, in the kingdom of Chu. He studied in Chang An, an ancient capital of China during the Han, Sui, and Tang dynasties and now called Xi’an. He was well versed in The Book of Changes and the teachings of the Yellow Emperor and Lao Zi. Besides that, he was highly educated and had great foresight. One time, court officials Song Zhong and Jia Yi paid a visit to Sima Jizhu to ask his thoughts on human affairs. At the time, Sima Jizhu was having a discussion with three students. When they noticed Song Zhong and Jia Yi, they invited them to join the discussion. Song Zhong and Jia Yi responded that they only wished to listen. Sima Jizhu continued to talk about the movements of heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, and their relationship to benevolence and righteousness, as well as the good and the bad omens. Everything was explained in an organized and logical manner. Song Zhong and Jia Yi both listened attentively and with great respect.

Sima Jizhu continued, “A gentleman is straightforward when offering good advice and does not expect to be repaid when giving praise. He kindly and honestly points out other’s mistakes, keeping the nation’s and people’s well-being in mind. A genuinely virtuous person will not accept a government position if he does not think he can it perform well, nor will he take a salary that exceeds his efforts. He is not ecstatic when offered a position, nor is he worried about losing his job; the key is that he does things conscientiously. On the other hand, a wicked person who is hungry for power uses his authority to threaten others. He uses the law as a tool to force out the righteous person and exploits the common people. He will do anything for personal gain, and that is despicable. A wicked official does not enforce the law to prevent robberies, does not take care of and reform the neighboring tribes when they do not surrender, and doesn’t stop other wicked ones from uprising and obstructing the path of the sages. All kinds of disasters occur as a result of degenerated moral values.”

Song Zhong and Jia Yi were impressed and humbled by Sima Jizhu’s speech and commented, “It is true that good moral values lead to peace, whereas power and force lead to danger. One should learn and follow the laws of heaven in one’s activities, and become a righteous instead of a wicked person who caters to the powerful.”

After the fall of the Qin Dynasty, the Marquis of Dongling was relegated to the level of a common person. One day he visited Sima Jizhu to talk about his future. Sima Jizhu asked, “What do you want to know about your future?” Marquis of Dongling replied, “I’ve heard that when a bothersome smell becomes strong, it needs to be aired; when the temperature gets too hot, the wind will blow; and what is congested needs to be aired. From winter to spring, what is curled up will be extended. Things rise and fall, and they come and go. However, I still have doubts and would like to hear your advice.” Sima Jizhu said, “You seem to understand the principles, then why do you need me to talk about your future?” Marquis of Dongling replied, “I don’t seem to thoroughly understand the profound meanings of what I have heard and hope you can guide me.” Sima Jizhu responded, “Who does the heavenly law favor? It favors those who are virtuous. When a virtuous person conducts himself according to heavenly law and does things to benefit the common people, the gods will help him. From dusk till dawn, flowers wilt and bloom; winter leaves and spring arrives; all things wane and will be reborn. There is always a calm and deep pool at the end of the rapid river water. There must be a deep canyon underneath the high mountain ridge. There is cause and effect, and all matters are predestined. When a person cultivates to become virtuous, good manners and etiquette will follow.”

Ancient Chinese have believed and followed the principle of “man and heaven are one.” They knew that there was a direct relationship between cosmic changes and changes in human affairs, and that good deeds will be rewarded and bad deeds will receive retribution. Therefore, they placed great importance on elevating their moral standards. However, the Chinese Communist Party has acted against heaven’s will and done things that are against the laws of heaven and earth, morality, and the cosmic law, thus, creating countless tragedies. Their actions will not be tolerated by the heavenly principles.

 

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