Stories from History: Zhang Zhibai’s Simple Life

September 23, 2014 at 12:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Author: Zhen Yan

[PureInsight.org] Zhang Zhibai lived an uncorrupted and simple life. When he was the prime minister for Emperor Song Ren Zhong, he lived just like an ordinary person. He was very happy and content. Many advised him to change his lifestyle and follow the trend so he would not be criticized as a hypocrite.

People around him said, “You make very good salary, but your life is so simple and frugal. Why do you do that?”

Zhang Zhibai replied,” I heard that one gets more enjoyment out of a simple life. With my salary, I can easily provide the best food and clothing for my entire family. My common sense tells me that it is easy to change from a simple lifestyle to a luxurious lifestyle. However, it is extremely hard to change back and live a simple life again. Can my salary last forever? Can my life last forever? If my family members get used to a luxurious life, once I die, how are they going to adjust to a frugal life? As it is now, whether I have my job or not and whether I am here or not won’t make any difference to my family. They live the same way.”

People admired him for his vision and understanding after hearing that.

Later, when he was seriously ill, the emperor came to visit him. His wife dressed in simple and inexpensive clothing to receive the emperor. In his bedroom, the emperor saw old worn- out curtains, quilts, and bedding. The emperor sighed and admired his character for a long while and then asked someone to immediately bring him new replacements for everything in his bedroom.

For the later generations, anyone who wanted to cultivate an uncorrupted character would take him as a model.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/8/2/45092.html

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

Destiny and Fate: Twenty Bowls of Orange Skin Soup

July 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Culture, Good Advice, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Author:

Shiran

[PureInsight.org] In the era of the Emperor Xuzong in the Tang Dynasty, there was a fortune-teller who claimed he could foretell what foods people would eat in the future. Many officials in the Imperial Court went to see him and ask him to tell their fortune. Only one senior official, named Li Qijun, did not believe him.

Li Qijun invited the fortune-teller to his home and asked him, “What am I going to have to eat tomorrow?” The fortune-teller thought for quite a while, then told him, “You will eat two plates of sticky rice cake, and twenty bowls of orange skin soup.” Li smiled. He asked his chef to prepare a banquet for him the next day and he planned to invite other officials to join him.

In the early morning next day, the Emperor summoned Li Qijun. The Emperor told him, “Today the mayor of the imperial capital presented me some new sticky rice. My chef made some cakes with it. You might want to try some.” After quite a while, a servant brought him cakes with a golden tray. Li extended his thanks to the Emperor, and started to eat the cake. He had to eat them all although he did not want to. The Emperor delighted at Li’s finishing all of the cakes, and told the official, “It seems you like the cakes very much. Let me bestow you another plate of sticky rice cakes.” Li had to finish another entire plate’s worth of cakes.

After Li returned home, he suffered a serious stomachache. He could not eat anything and could only drink orange skin soup. It was not until midnight that the pain receded. He recalled what the fortune-teller said, and asked his servants, “How many bowls of orange skin soup did I have?” They answered, “20 bowls.”

Li gave a long sigh of admiration for the fortune-teller’s amazing ability. He asked servants to invite the fortune-teller to his residence quickly, and gave him quite a bit of money and some beautiful silk.

Adapted From Historic Anecdotes

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/11/13/23759.html

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