Being Compassionate and Upright Reaps Good Rewards

Ping Fan

PureInsight | March 22, 2004

[] An old Chinese saying goes, "Out of the depths of misfortune comes bliss." The truth behind this saying has manifested over and over again throughout ancient times as well as modern.

Many people may have heard about Lu Mengzheng, who lived at the time of the North Song Dynasty. As his parents died when he was young, he was reduced to poverty and had to beg on the streets. He often had nothing to eat, and people always looked down on him. But he was kind-hearted, and very smart. He did not give up his dream even under such bad circumstances and kept learning things at every opportunity.

On one occasion, he went to a temple in search of lodging and asked the monks there if they could take him in. He wanted to stay there for a while, hoping to continue his studies. But as time went by, those monks began to resent having to support him. Instead of ringing the dinner bell as usual before meals, they all ate their meals first and then rang the bell. So when Lu Mengzheng heard the bell and went for his meal, he found there was nothing left for him. He had to go hungry, but he continued his studies. Eventually, Lu Mengzheng placed first in the Imperial Examination and enjoyed great social prominence. He learned a lot from his own experience as a poor lad and wrote a book named Lu Mengzheng's Aphorisms. In his book he explained that when he was poor, hungry, and in rags, nobody liked him, but everybody was eager to please him after he was appointed to high-ranking official positions. He concluded that while on the surface this change in attitude toward him was because of his social condition of poverty or nobility, in reality it was due to the heavenly principle of things moving in cycles. He lamented that most people couldn't see this because they were short sighted. He was appointed Prime Minister three times and was beloved by the people. His story lives on in books and plays passed down from generation to generation.

Zhu Yuanzhang was a beggar before he became the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and Liu Bang was a hobo before he founded the Han Dynasty. When Liu Bang was impoverished and living in Shandong Province, he went to impose on his brother for food and shelter. His sister-in-law, however, was not very charitable, hiding food from him and calling him a bum. She treated him badly when he was poor. One wonders, however, how she felt when he became Emperor and how he treated her then.

If one treats those who are poor and in trouble with compassion, sympathy, and righteousness, one will be rewarded with good fortune. "Out of the depths of misfortune comes bliss." Last year I read a story in the newspaper about a Hong Kong billionaire. The article said that when the billionaire was a teenage boy, he was a beggar in the countryside. However, this experience transformed him into a compassionate and sympathetic man. He said, "One must not hit a person when he is down. When people around you are in trouble, you should do your best to help them with compassion and sympathy. Don't laugh at them, don't look down on them or curse them. If you behave like that, you will be asking for bad retribution." Because of his humble and kind nature, he was blessed with good fortune. He started out as a simple day laborer, then made some money to open a small business, and finally became a real estate magnate. He died in his nineties. The lesson learned from this is that if one wants to achieve good fortune, receive positive retribution, and attain health and longevity, the best thing to do is treat everyone and everything with compassion.

One of my relatives fled to Hong Kong from mainland China in 1950. He had lost everything in China when his father was beaten to death during a political campaign and all the family's possessions were confiscated. When he got to Hong Kong, he built a hut on a hill. One of his sons, only a few years old, died from illness since they could not afford a doctor. Yet my relative did not blame everyone and everything. On the contrary, he became more righteous and sympathetic, always doing his best to help those who were suffering and weak. He felt great pity for those who were falsely accused and tortured to death during China's Cultural Revolution.

When he owned his own company and acquired real estate, he said, "Serving people is to serve oneself, and hurting people is to hurt oneself. It would bring great trouble if one hit others when they are down." He followed the teaching of the ancient Chinese Saints: "Do not be greedy, do not indulge yourself, and never waste anything." He believed that as a boss, he should have great consideration for his employees. His company paid higher salaries, yet he was modest and never put on airs. When he rented a room to a tenant, the rent was initially HK$10,000. He returned $1000 to the tenant and thus lowered the rent to $9000 – and he had never known or even met that person before. He just thought that it was hard for his tenants to make that amount of money. He always saved uneaten meals because he thought about the many people who were starving, and the leftovers helped him remember his painful experience of being in that same position.

He once said that he had better luck than others. He had quite a few friends whose companies and factories had gone bankrupt, and he himself almost went bankrupt several times. But he turned his ill luck into good and attributed it to the fact that he put the welfare of others first, no matter what happened.

He believed that it doesn't matter if you are a boss or an employee, you will eventually die. Nobody can escape death no matter who he is – official, civilian, emperor, or beggar. So he believed that if you follow your heart and act according to your conscience, you will not fear death. One day, in his old age, he got thirsty and went to the refrigerator to get some milk. After drinking his milk, he passed away. He looked very tranquil, as if he had fallen asleep. His son told me, "Because my father was compassionate and generous in his life, he died peacefully." The Chinese always say that bad people will not die in their beds. Kind-hearted people are not stupid and can make the choice to be compassionate and considerate. If everyone did this, they would surely create a good life for themselves and a bright future.

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