Great Wisdom

September 23, 2014 at 12:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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[PureInsight.org] Han Qi, a high ranking official from the Song Dynasty, once said, “We should treat a superior man and an inferior man alike: with sincerity. If we know he is inferior, just getting acquainted with him should be enough.” Usually, when ordinary people meet an inferior person who is deceiving others, they will expose his scheme.  However, Han Qi was different. He knew clearly the bad thoughts of an inferior man, but he would tolerate it and would not show it.

Everyone likes to be with superior people and it is easy to be sincere with them. However, it is much harder to deal with inferior people. The mentality of ordinary people is that if you are nice to me, then I’ll be nice to you; if you are not nice to me, why should I be nice to you?  In that way, when we see that others are having a problem, we point it out bluntly. As a consequence, this will make the inferior man angry and look for the opportunity to hurt us.

We do not tolerate others for their mistakes or impurity because we consider ourselves clean and pure. Actually, this is due to that fact that we have not assimilated virtue deeply into our heart.  We should observe others and not expose their shortcomings.  When we disclose other’s weaknesses, we express our dislike and our contempt for others. The motive to do this comes from our indifference and resentment.  We do not have the compassion to help others. If we can maintain a calm heart and are not concerned what others may think, we will not be so concerned about the strengths and weaknesses of others.

It is the same when we are having conflicts in our official or personal interactions with others. If we cannot tolerate other’s shortcomings, we are more likely to have enemies.  Even among friends, you reject others and others reject you. Eventually you are in a hostile environment and disasters will follow.  Prime Minister Kouzhun from the Song Dynasty was a typical example. He was very straightforward and very critical of Dingwei’s fawning personality and reproached him openly in front of others.  Dinghui was very offended and he helped others to gain power and had Kouzhun banished to Aizhou.

Compassion does not mean that one cannot tell right from wrong. On the contrary, it means that I know exactly that you are deceiving me and hurting me but I am broad-minded and do not keep score. In my heart I know what happened but, on the surface, I look like that I have been fooled.  Most people cannot do that except the cultivators.

Prime Minister Koushun did just that. When he encountered an inferior person, he exposed him. As a result, they became opposing forces to each other, and the opportunity to transform Dinghui was thus
lost.  Han Qi reacted differently. When he ran into an inferior person, he treated him just the same as others. He was sincere but kept the contact on a superficial level and avoided being trapped into mind games.  Superior men know how to transform others with their virtue and will not abandon or reject others because they are inferior. Others will accept us easily only if we can be tolerant.

Translated from: http://big5.minghui.org/mh/articles/2005/8/18/108411.html

The Greatest and Strongest Moral Force

October 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Asia, Culture, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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October 15, 2012

(Minghui.org) Mencius (372 BC - 289 BC) was born in the state of Zou during the Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC). He wrote a book named “Book of Mencius,” and was referred to as the “Next Sage” after Confucius. Their philosophies are called the “doctrine of Confucius and Mencius.” Mencius once said to one of his disciples, “I am proficient in cultivating my noble spirit. It is the greatest and strongest force. It will fill heaven and earth with a noble mind. It must be matched with virtue and morality, otherwise it will lack force. Besides, it must be constantly reinforced with virtue and morality in order to maintain it, rather than relying on the occasional act of justice.” “Be impervious to the temptation of wealth and high position, do not be shaken by poverty, and do not be subdued by force.” Mencius advocated benevolent governance his whole life. In his dealings with feudal lords and nobility, he behaved neither submissively nor pompously. His pursuit of the truth deeply influenced later generations.

Mencius’ view of destiny was that heaven possessed the highest will. “The mandate of heaven determined the change in dynasties and emperors, rise and decline, and rich and poor. People had to follow the will of heaven and know how to dedicate, know heaven and do things for heaven. Those who submitted to heaven’s will prosper and those who defy it will die.” Mencius emphasized moral cultivation. He considered morality to be a natural gift, innate to the human mind and conscience of people. If everyone is able to maintain goodness and strive to improve in self-cultivation, people can be like Emperors Yao and Shun. Both Mencius and Confucius toured various states to promote their teachings. He spread the virtue and benevolent governance of the ancient emperors Yao, Yu Shun, and others. Lord Wei Hui treated him with a courteous reception and Lord Qi Xuan honored him as a high official. He persuaded them to apply benevolent governance that had won popular allegiance, and many times avoided war.

Mencius once traveled from Qi to Wei and was stopped by a heavy rain. People found out about it and ran around spreading the news. Many people came to visit him to ask for advice. Seeing people were so eager to learn, he thus decided to stay to lecture for several days. Mencius believed that a man of noble character must pursue morality, and persuade monarchs to establish moral supremacy, and value justice above material gain. The following are stories of his unswerving determination to urge people to do good.

Rule a Country With Justice, Why Talk About Profits?

When visiting Liang, Lord Liang Hui said to him, “You have traveled a great distance to come here. You must have some things to benefit my country?” Mencius replied, “Lord, why talk about benefits? It is sufficient to just say righteousness.” Lord Liang said, “How can it benefit my country?” Mencius said, “If people are always asking: ‘How will my family benefit from this?’ and, ‘How will I benefit from this?’ the result will be that everyone will be competing for their own benefits. Then the country will be in danger! In a country with 10,000 military vehicles, often the senior officers who own 1,000 military vehicles will kill their monarch. In a country owning 1,000 military vehicles, the monarch is often killed by the senior officers who own 100 military vehicles. You cannot say that these senior officers don’t own enough. However, those who put their own interests above righteousness will never be satisfied with what they already own and will try to seize their monarch’s position. Those who always think of benevolence will never abandon their parents and those who always think of righteousness will not abandon their monarch. Therefore, why do you only want to talk about benefits?” The prominent historian Sima Qian in the Western Han Dynasty sighed when he read this dialogue between Mencius and Lord Liang, “Personal interest is really the source of chaos!”

Being Fond of Good People is Good Enough to Rule the World

The state of Lu intended to let Le Zhengzi govern. Mencius was very glad to hear the news. His disciple Gongsun Chou asked, “Is Le Zhengzi very experienced?” Mencius said, “no.” Gongsun Chou asked, “Then why are you pleased?” Mencius said, “He likes to listen to well-intended advice and he has always fulfilled his duties.” Gongsun Chou asked again, “Are these enough?” Mencius said, “With these qualities, one can rule the world, not to mention govern the state of Lu! If one likes to listen to truthfulness, he will only be willing to meet with good people and villains would have no market. If one doesn’t like to listen to good words, then those with breadth of vision will shy away and those with vile character will come. He will be surrounded by people of vile character. How can he govern a country well? Officials must dare to uphold justice and fairness. If one cannot be diligent and responsible, why then would one want to be an official?”

Every Day I Was Hoping Lord Qi Would Change His Mind!

Mencius went to Qi twice to persuade Lord Qi to carry out a policy of benevolence, but he did not get to see the lord. When Mencius left Qi for the second time, a Qi person, Yinshi, said to Mencius’s disciple Gaozi, “It is unwise not to know that Lord Qi will never be a monarch like Emperor Shang Tang or Emperor Zhou Wuwang. If knowing that Lord Qi cannot be convinced and Mencius still comes to Qi, it looks like he was hoping to gain benefits. After traveling a long distance to see the lord, he found that he could not be persuaded and thus left. But Mencius still stayed for three nights before leaving. Why was he so reluctant to leave? I am not very appreciative of Mencius.” Gaozi told Mencius about Yinshi’s remark.

Mencius said, “How could Yinshi know my thoughts? I traveled a long way to expound the kingly way to Lord Qi and that was my wish. I remonstrated without success and left; did I wish that? I had no alternative but to leave. I stayed for three nights before leaving. I think that is too soon. I thought Lord Qi might change his mind and ask me to return. If he called me back, I would have to make good use of the opportunity. After I left, he did not send people to chase after me to ask me to return. I was thus determined to leave. Although I did, was I willing to give up on the lord? Lord Qi can govern well. If he carries out benevolent governance, not only Qi will have peace, but also the people of the whole country. Every day I hope that he will change! Do I look like a narrow minded person? I was unable to remonstrate with a monarch, got angry and left with resentment, and then travelled a whole day before stopping for a night.” Upon hearing this, Yinshi said, “I am really a lowly person.”

People Will Be Completely Won Over With One’s Virtue

Upon hearing that Lord Qi Xuan intended to use force to conquer other countries, Mencius hurried to Qi for the third time. Lord Qi Xuan asked him, “Are there principles when dealing with neighboring states?” Mencius replied, “Yes, there are. Only the benevolent monarch of a big country can serve a small country, just like Emperor Shang serving Ge. A clever monarch of a small country will serve a big country, just like Gou Jian serving Lord Wu. A monarch with great power serving a small country is obeying the destiny of heaven, while a monarch of a small country serving a big power is fearing destiny. Being willing to obey the will of heaven can bring peace and stability to the country, while fearing destiny will allow one to hold on to his country.” The “Book of Songs”(1) said: ‘by fearing the dignity of heaven, a country can maintain stability.’ “Lord Qi Xuan said, “Great! But I have a problem, as I like combat.”

Mencius said, “My lord, don’t behave with trivial courage. When you hold a sword with a fierce look, ‘Who dares to oppose me!’ This is just personal courage. What is true bravery?” The “Book of Songs” said, ‘Emperor Zhou Wenwang suddenly flared up and geared up his army to protect Ju.’ This is the courage of Emperor Zhou Wenwang. His anger stabilized people’s minds.” The “Book of Shang” (the earliest compilation of historical documents. It is one of the Confucian classics) stated, “Heaven created all the people and set up a monarch and provided teachers to assist heaven to take good care of the people and follow the code of ethics strictly. Who dares to go beyond one’s duty? When there was a person rampaging the country, Emperor Zhou Wuwang felt ashamed. This was the valor of Emperor Wuwang. His anger stabilized the country. Now if my lord can get angry and stabilize the country, people will be worried that my lord doesn’t like to be courageous!”

Mencius went on, “My lord should implement a policy of benevolence and reduce taxation so that people will learn loyalty, righteousness, etiquette, and trustworthiness in their leisure time. Then people close by will live in peace and contentment, and people from distant places will come to join you. If another monarch does injustice to his people and puts them in misery, when my lord goes to crusade against that monarch, who can then oppose my lord? People will welcome your troops with food and drink. Do they have any demands? They only want to avoid the abyss of suffering. Otherwise, people will look for someone else to rescue them. When a lord cares for people and unifies the country, no one can stop him.” Lord Qi Xuan nodded. Mencius elaborated on the kingly way with nature’s law and popular sentiment and thus ultimately made Lord Qi Xuan give up on war and implement the policy of benevolence that achieved a great order. People were very grateful for Mencius’ graciousness.

A Benevolent Monarch Is Invincible

Mencius said, “Only benevolent people can be invincible in the world and only with benevolent governance can a country be prosperous and can people live in peace. If people higher up do not follow reason and good sense to restrain themselves and people below do not use laws to bind themselves, if governments do not believe in morality and justice, officials do not abide by the law, gentlemen violate justice, villains violate the criminal law – then a country will be lucky to even survive. A state that does not have vast lands or that accumulates great wealth is not the curse. Not revering morality is the calamity for a state. Consequently, remonstrating with a monarch to cultivate virtue and carry out benevolent governance is to respect one’s monarch. Expounding to a monarch with reason to clear up his wicked ideas is being respectful to a monarch. Flattering and currying favor with a monarch is to entrap him. When a monarch himself is upright, the world will come to be in allegiance with him. The “Book of Songs” stated, ‘Cooperate with the mandate of heaven and one will have happiness.’ Living in the world’s widest residence – benevolence; standing in the most correct position – etiquette; walking on the broadest road in the world – righteousness; wealth cannot confuse one’s thoughts, rank cannot change one’s conduct, and force will not make one yield. This is what a benevolent person does.”

Mencius lived in the middle of the Warring States Period, during which time etiquette collapsed and society was in turmoil. But he did not hesitate to push forward promoting morality and justice. He believed that the difference between people was not whether one is rich or poor, but rather, having the ability to maintain noble morality and have a clear conscience. Enlightening to the good side of people’s minds and helping them follow heaven’s way is the true reason for exhorting people.

In today’s materialism and decline in moral standards, Falun Dafa helps people to have a brighter future and reminds people to follow and treasure the characteristics of the universe: Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

1) “The Book of Songs” is China’s first poetry collection. It brought together 305 pieces of poetry starting from the early Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC) to the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period (600 BC)

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Ancient Chinese Parenting Philosophy: Emphasis on Virtue and Moral Behavior (Part I)

November 17, 2011 at 9:00 am | Posted in Asia, Culture, Discussion, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 1 Comment
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By Zhizhen

(Clearwisdom.net) Ancient Chinese people placed great emphasis on family manners and the cultivation of discipline and virtue. Following the principles of Benevolence, Righteousness, Courtesy, Wisdom, and Credit, the basic values in ancient Chinese culture, ancient Chinese people cherished the philosophy of cultivation of virtue and moral behavior in their parenting ways, and regarded it as the dogma of family discipline. Ancient saints and sages showed great compassion and care for their children, but they were very strict with their children too. In this way, they educated their children to follow good advice from others and thus lead a righteous life without regret. The ancient Chinese parenting method is of great value to us today. The following are some examples.

Confucius Teaching His Son to Learn Book of Songs and Classic of Rites

Teacher Confucius’s Profile while Teaching (By Wu Daozi/Tang Dynasty)

Confucius was a great thinker and educator. It is said that he had more than 3,000 students. In Lunyu, there is a story about one of his students Chen Kang and his son Kong Li. Kang asked Li: “Have you heard special things from Teacher?” Li said: “No. Once, Father was standing in the yard alone. I walked to him. He asked me: ‘Have you studied Book of Songs yet?’ I replied: ‘No.’ So he said: ‘You have no grounds to say anything if you haven’t studied it yet.’ Therefore, I hurried back to study it. Another time, I met Father. He was standing alone. I walked to him. He asked me: ‘Have you studied Classic of Rites yet?’ I replied: ‘No.’ So he said to me: ‘You have no ground to stand on if you haven’t studied it yet.’ So I hurried back to study it. I have only heard these two things. Nothing else special.” After hearing this, Kang was very happy. He said: “I only asked one question, but I have learned three things. I know the importance of studying Book of Songs and Classic of Rites, and I learned that Teacher treats everyone the same.”

Indeed, Book of Songs and Classic of Rites are among the fundamentals of Confucius’s teachings. Confucius said: “Poetry can express one’s thoughts, poems can express one’s ambition and songs can chant one’s words.” He believed that using art and literature as vivid teaching materials was more effective than preaching. It is said that Book of Songs has 305 pieces in total, which were all compiled and edited by Confucius. Most of the pieces are about cultivation, following good ethics, and the will of Heaven, with which Confucius believed that the cultivation of one’s morality should start and which could build one’s insight. In addition, one can learn a lot about history, nature and sociology through reading them. He said: “Prosperous from Book of Songs, sustaining from Classic of Rites, and successful from Classic of Music.” When he talked about rites, he actually meant moral behavior and virtue. Education starts from teaching students moral behavior and virtue. From practice, one can cultivate morality and discipline. Therefore, it can lay the foundation for one’s future development.

Confucius treated his son in the same way he treated his other students in terms of studying Book of Songs and Classic of Rites. He used the same standard and never lowered the bar for his son, Kong Li, from which we can see he treated everyone equally and had high expectations for his son and his other students. Intellectuals from Confucius’s time always regarded his parenting method of Book of Songs and Classic of Rites as family legacy.

(to be continued) (Part 2 Here)

Posting date: 3/20/2011
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2011/2/28/古人教子理念-重德修身(一)-236959.html

The Wisdom of Teacher Kuang

May 11, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Asia, Culture, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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By Rongxin

(Clearwisdom.net) Teacher Kuang (572-532 BC) was a well-known musician in the country of Jin. When Emperor Jindao and Emperor Jinping were in power, he also served as a minister. He is remembered for the “Wisdom of Teacher Kuang.” He was a political activist and a scholar. His contemporaries referred to him as a “widely experienced” man. Teacher Kuang accomplished this even though he was born blind. Hence, he called himself the Blind Courtier.

According to legend, his skill with the drum and the qin (an ancient stringed instrument still used today) was incomparable. Kuang’s contemporaries said that his skill had reached the highest possible level known to man. He could also use the qin to express natural sounds, such as the singing of a bird. In addition, he was knowledgeable in folk songs from all over the country.

Kuang was a government official regarding music. He believed that one purpose of music was to disseminate moral concepts via folk songs. These songs reached every part of the country. He thought that by singing the songs with poems and combining them with rituals, it would be possible to civilize more people. His understanding of music also inspired methods of governing the country. One day, Emperor Jinping was feeling sorry for Kuang because he was blind. Kuang replied, “There are five types of blindness”:

The emperor cannot see that one of his officials uses bribery.
The emperor appoints the wrong men to jobs.
The emperor fails to differentiate between the capable and the incapable officials.
The emperor only wants to use force.
The emperor is not aware of how the citizens live.

When a tyrannical king was deposed by his subjects, Emperor Jindao thought that the king’s public had gone too far. Kuang believed that the foundation of a country was its people. The king’s job was to see that his subjects were properly treated. He was not above the public and should live with morals. Failure to do so was to go against nature. Such a king had brought disappointment to the public, was not taking care of the government, and hence should be replaced. Emperor Jindao admired Kuang’s views and asked Kuang what was the best way to govern. Kuang replied, “Uphold benevolence and righteousness.”

In politics, Kuang advocated a transparent government, indicating that morality and law were equally important. The emperor should let events unfold naturally, promote universal love, and use a set of laws to safeguard the governing system. Without laws, both the officials and the public would be without guidance. In personnel selection, Kuang said that only a moral and talented individual should

be given national responsibility. Kuang also said, “When a loyal minister is let go, and an untrustworthy individual is given responsibility, chaos will follow. A similar situation will occur if a high-level government position is given to an unworthy person.” Regarding the economy, Kuang believed that the public needed to be prosperous for society to be peaceful. Government officials should be familiar with the reality of life for the citizens to insure no one is mistreated.

For the leader of a nation, he recommended, “Do not get stuck in mediocrity. Do not let people stop you from moving forward.” “As a leader,” he thought, “one must have foresight and independent views.”

He believed that these characteristics were needed to lead a nation and to prosper. During the reigns of Emperors Jindao and Jinping, the nation prospered because of Kuang’s advice. Kuang followed Emperor Jinping to battle several times and went on a diplomatic mission to the Chou Dynasty.

In those days the country of Qi ruled a strong territory, and the Qi emperor also consulted Kuang on how to govern his country. To that question he replied, “An emperor should bring prosperity to his people.”

Kuang had a staunch disposition. He was elegant in his presentation, but he would not curry favor with powerful people. When emperor Jinping became arrogant and extravagant in his old age, Kuang advised him many times to return to his earlier ways.

One time, in front of all his ministers, Jinping claimed, “An emperor is the happiest man, because no one dares to disobey his words.” Kuang thought an emperor should not make such a statement and threw his qin at Jinping. If Kuang had feared death, he would not have done so.

Because the elderly Jinping had become so extravagant, the Jin Dynasty was in decline. When the emperor issued orders, the public reacted as if robbers were coming. During three hunting trips, Jinping acted as if he were the emperor of the universe. Kuang reacted by saying. “This is self-delusion.” Jinping became angry. Back in the palace, he asked his servants to place thorny plants on the stairs. Then, Kuang walked upstairs without shoes. After stepping on the thorns, Kuang said, “When a person lowers himself to the level of a slave, his days are numbered. An emperor’s court is not a place where thorny plants grow. I predict Jinping is about to die.”

Because of his noble character and care for the public, Kuang was highly regarded by noblemen as well as common people. The ancient Chinese believed, “The moral concepts in life are the same as those in man.” Kuang’s achievements in music and politics are directly related to how he cultivated his mind.

Source: http://clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2008/11/2/101940.html
Chinese version available at http://www.minghui.org/mh/articles/2008/10/8/187297.html

Benevolence and Virtue Can Change People

March 23, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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By Zhi Zhen

(Clearwisdom.net) Lu Gong lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220). He studied the Five Classics and Lu Poetry when he was very young. Given his studies, he became well-known for his wealth of knowledge. The governor knew that he was poor and therefore sent him grain every year, but Lu Gong did not accept it. The governor admired his noble character and wanted to give him an official position, as he was too young to be an office holder. Lu Gong politely declined.

After Lu Gong came of age, he became the governor of Zhong Mou County. At the beginning of his term, he won admiration because of his great virtue and moral behavior. He applied virtue to change people, instead of punishment. During his time in office, people were honest and lived peacefully.

On one occasion, someone complained to Lu Gong that someone called Ting Chang had borrowed his cow and refused to return it. Ting Chang was consequently brought in for questioning.

“You borrowed someone’s cow and you should return it after the work has been done. Now the owner has come to me to complain. After you return the cow, you should also apologize.”

Ting Chang said,”When did I borrow his cow? That is my cow!”

The cow owner said, “This is not true! You borrowed my cow, but why don’t you admit it?”

Tin Chang responded. “He is making this up! Why would I borrow a cow from him?”

Lu Gong sighed deeply, “There is no need to argue. It doesn’t matter which one of you is right. I am responsible. It is my failure that I have not been able to change you into people with high morals. I believe it to be my fault.” After he said that, he took off his official robes and was on the verge of resigning.

“Please don’t quit,” his subordinates begged him in tears.

“Please don’t leave us,” cried all his citizens.

“Please don’t quit. I’ll give up my cow,” said the cow owner.

After seeing this, Ting Chang was very embarrassed. He said,”I made a mistake. The devil made me do this. I will return the cow to him. Please punish me for my crime.” Ting Chang finally admitted his wrongdoing. Lu Gong asked Ting Chang to return the cow and did not punish him. All the citizens were impressed by the way Lu Gong handled the situation.

One time locusts invaded all the counties, with the exception of Zhong Mou. Minister Yuan An from Henan heard about it and did not quite believe it. He sent Fei Qin, an official, to investigate. Lu Gong accompanied Fei Qin to inspect the field. Fei Qin sat under a mulberry tree and saw a pheasant fall down and a child nearby.

“Why don’t you catch the bird?” asked Fei Qin.

“She is hatching the little pheasants and I feel sorry for her.”

Fei Qin got up immediately after hearing that and went back to report to Yuan An.

“There are three things very unusual in Zhong Mou County. First, the locusts will not invade that county. Second, even the birds and animals are immersed in compassion. Third, even a little child has compassion in his heart. If I had stayed there any longer, I would only have disturbed the goodness that permeated that county.”

Minister Yuan An reported Lu Gong’s good deed to the imperial court.

After Lu Gong finished his term in Zhong Mou County, he was transferred to the imperial court, because of his outstanding performance, and promoted to prime minister.

Lu Gong was a good official and stressed the importance of moral behavior. The people loved him because he was tolerant and benevolent. Stories about the way he applied virtue to change people were told for generations.

Today, when we are trying to bring back the ancient god-culture, we should cherish life, be concerned about the future, and inspire compassion in everyone’s heart. Such behavior shows a broad mind, a noble spiritual realm, respect for and responsibility toward lives, and also gratitude for the blessings bestowed by Heaven.
Chinese version available at http://www.minghui.org/mh/articles/2007/9/4/161988.html

Source: http://clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2007/9/11/89450.html

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