Saving People from Danger and Accumulating Virtue that Brings Benefits to One's Descendants

Xiao Feng, Collator

PureInsight | March 1, 2006

[] The teachings
of "accumulating virtues by performing good deeds" and "taking helping
others as joy' are consistent throughout the traditional Chinese
culture. There are many Chinese sayings on that subject, such as "good
will be rewarded with good," "A family who is always kind will have
plenty to celebrate," "The first person plants trees and people behind
him will get the shade." The next story is about another saying,
"ancestors who accumulate virtue will bring benefits to their children
and grandchildren."  

Yang Rong was born in Jianan (today's Ning County, Fujian Province)
during the Ming dynasty. He was a famous official in Ming Dynasty. He,
Yan Shiqi and Yang Bo were three important officials with the same
surname of Yang who had served under four emperors, Emperor Chen (Yong
Le), Emperor Reng (Hong Xi), Emperor Xuan (Xuan De) and Emperor Ying
(Zheng Tong), from 1403 to1449. The three Yangs enjoyed high prestige,
universal respect and excellent reputations. The Ming History Records
says, "If one makes a list of wise and able officials during the Ming
Dynasty, the three Yangs have to be at the top of the list." During the
time that "the Three Yangs" were in charge of the government, policies
were wise, the country was peaceful, people were prosperous and
everything was in order. The Three Yangs indeed made many contributions
to the country.

Yang Rong's ancestors made a living by running a ferry for people.
During his grand-grandfather's time, there was a flood and many houses
were destroyed. A lot of people and property was washed into the river.
Many ferry owners took the opportunity to grab as many valuable goods
from the river with their boats as they could. Only Yang Rong's
grand-grandfather and grandfather risked their lives to rescue people
who had fallen into the river. They didn't try to grab any goods at
all. As a result, all the other ferry owners had obtained huge amount
of property from the flood. Yang's family was the only one who still
had to rely on rowing the ferry boat to make a living. At that time,
many neighbors were laughing at them in their back and said that they
were very stupid. But Yang's great-grandfather and grandfather were
very happy because they had saved many people's lives.   

The Yang family's lives didn't improve until the generation of Yang
Rong's father. One day, a Daoist came to Yang's home and told Yang
Rong's father, "Your grandfather and father accumulated a great deal of
virtue after their deaths. Because of it, your children and
grandchildren will be rich and famous. You can bury your father and
grandfather at such and such a place and it is a so-called ‘white
rabbit graveyard.'" (Translator's note: According to traditional
Chinese culture, if one is buried at a place with good feng shui, his
descendents will enjoy good lives. A "white rabbit graveyard" is
considered one of the locations with the best feng shui). Yang's family followed his directions and buried them at the appointed location.

Afterwards, Yang Rong was born in Yang's family. He was bright and
smart when he was young. He was not only talented, he also loved to
study. He passed the imperial civil service examination when he was
still a young man. At the beginning, he was assigned as an official
responsible for compiling historical records. He was subsequently
promoted to be one of the top royal advisors and eventually became the
Minister of Commerce. Yang Rong had a very sharp mind. When helping to
make policies, he was fast and decisive. He served under four emperors,
who all respected him. Yang Rong was eventually given the title of a
duke. The emperor even honored his grandfather and great-grandfather by
bestowing official rank on them posthumously. After Yang Rong died, the
emperor specially honored him with the title of Grand Teacher. His
children and grandchildren enjoyed great lives as well. His
great-grandson Yang Dan became the governor of two Chinese provinces in
the south and then the Minister of Justice.   

Yang Rong's ancestors were lowly ferry boat owners. But they had kind
hearts. They bravely risked their lives to rescue those people who had
fallen into the river and accumulated a great deal of virtue from their
kind deeds. They eventually became famous through their descendent Yang
Rong. From that, one can see that kind deeds get rewarded in mysterious

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