An Ancient Chinese Story Regarding Tolerance: Wang Wenzheng

Fu Ping

PureInsight | May 2, 2005

[] Once upon in ancient China, there was a magistrate of a prefecture named Wang Wenzheng. He was known for having a forgiving and tolerant mind. No one has seen him arguing with anyone or losing his temper.

Once his family wanted to test his level of tolerance. So they served him a clean bowl of steamed rice and a bowl of meat soup with dirt on top on purpose. When Wang Wenzheng saw the dirt in the soup, he did not touch the soup. He had only steamed rice for that meal. When asked why he didn't touch the soup, he replied, "Sometimes I don't feel like having meat soup." In the next meal, his family purposely served him a bowl of steamed rice with dirt on top. When Wang Wenzheng saw the dirty on the steamed rice, he told his family, "I don't feel like having steamed rice. Please give me a bowl of rice porridge instead."

Wang's household normally purchased one catty of meat from the market each day. [Note: Catty is a standard Chinese unit equal to 1.1023 pounds. ] One day, his family reported to Wang Wenzheng that the family chef had stolen half a catty of meat. Wang asked, "How many catties of meat do we consume every day?" His family replied, "One catty." Wang said, "Well, why don't we buy 1.5 catties of meat each day from now on? In the event that the chef steals 0.5 catty of meat again, we will still have enough meat."

While one of Wang's neighbors rebuilt his home, he laid a large pile of building material in front of the main entrance of Wang Wenzheng's home. As a result, Wang was unable to use the main entrance. He had to use a smaller side door that required him to lower his head when passing the door. However, Wang never made any complaint to his neighbor or anyone else. It was not until his neighbor finished the work that Wang Wenzheng and his family could finally use the main entrance again. Wang Wenzheng acted as if nothing had ever happened. He simply started using the main entrance again.

Wang Wenzheng truly stood out as a forgiving and tolerant man in both ancient and modern times. His high level of tolerance and forgiveness may be a great inspiration to today's people who refuse to lose the slightest self-interest.

Translated from:

Add new comment