Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety (3): Zeng Shen's Heartache When His Mother Bit Her Finger

PureInsight | April 11, 2005

[] Stories about exemplary filial conduct abound in Chinese history. The Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety were chosen and compiled by Guo Jujing from the Fujian Province during the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 CE) while he was mourning the death of his father. He recounted the feats of filial children towards their parents from the age of the primordial Emperor Shun down to his own era. Even today, these stories form an important part of orthodox Chinese virtue.

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Zeng Shen Developed Had A Heartache When His Mother Bit Her Finger
Zeng Shen of the Zhou dynasty was also known as Zeng Ziyu. He was extremely respectfull to his mother. One day a guest came to their house when Shen went to the mountains to gather firewood. His mother didn't have anything in the house to entertain the guest. She longed for Shen to return. When he still didn't return after a while, she bit her finger, drawing blood. At that moment, Shen suddenly felt a pain in his heart. He bundled up the firewood that he had gathered and returned home immediately. Kneeling outside of their front door, he asked his mother what the matter was. His mother said: "A guest came unexpectedly. I bit my finger to alert you." Later, verses praised him, saying:

His mother has just bitten her finger,
When her son's heart aches uncontrollably;
He shoulders his wood to return and is not too late;
The tie between mother and child is so deep.

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