Historical Story: Forgiveness Will Add Virtue

Hong Yi

PureInsight | September 9, 2006

[PureInsight.org] Fan Chunren,
a famous scholar and government official from the Song dynasty, once
said, "What I've learned through my lifetime of study can be summarized
in two words: loyalty and forgiveness. My whole life has been benefited
from practicing these two words. I always live by these two words when
I serve the Emperor, communicate with colleagues and friends, and treat
people from my clan." He warned his sons by saying, "Even the most
stupid person is clear-headed when he finds faults in other people, and
the intelligent person is muddle-headed when he forgives his own
mistakes. Therefore you should find faults within yourself in the same
way that you find faults in other people, and forgive other people in
the same way that you forgive yourself. If you can truly do that, there
is no need to worry that you won't reach the realm of the saints. "

One of the relatives of Fan Chenren once asked him for some advice. He
told him: "Only by being thrifty and simple can you become honest and
clean. Only forgiveness can help you gain virtue."   The
relative inscribed Fan's words on the corner of his table, and followed
these words during his whole life.

Fan Chunren offended Prime Minister Chun Zhang because he asked the
Emperor to pardon Lu Dafang and other officials. As a result, Fan was
demoted and became the governor of Shuizhou City. Within a year, he
lost his vision. He asked Emperor to let him retire. Instead Chun Zhang
arranged for him to get a further demotion and forced him to move to a
post in the city of Yongzhou. After he received the order, Fan went on
his way calmly. Some people said that he did so to make people think
highly of him.  After Fan Chunren heard it, he sighed and said, "I
am already seventy years old and I've lost my vision. In addition, I
have been demoted and forced to move ten thousands miles away. Do you
think this is what I wanted? But I still can't help being loyal to our
Emperor." Every time his sons said angry words about Chun Zhang, Fan
always angrily asked them to stop.

After they moved to the city of Yongzhou, Fan Chunren's sons wanted to
ask the Emperor to pardon the family by using the fact that Fan and
Sima Guang had been at odds before and Sima Guang had just lost the
favor of the Emperor. Fan Chunren told them, "I was the one who
recommended Sima Guang for the post of Prime Minister. I can discuss
state affairs with him at the royal court. But I can't use past
problems between us as a way to get myself out of trouble. I'd rather
die without regret than live with regret." His sons dropped the idea

When they were in the city of Yongzhou, Fan Chunren taught his sons in
person and they always studied very late. During the three years in
Yongzhou, Fan was always even-tempered and good-humored, and was
content with himself.  Some people treated him rudely. Other
people would find it difficult to take that. Fan Chunren not only
didn't let it bother him, he wasn't even angry at the people who were
rude to him. When he talked to his guests, he always talked about
things related to cultivating the heart and body. He never talked about
other things. He always looked healthy and peaceful, just like he did
when he was a high-ranking official in the capital.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2006/8/30/39721.html

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