Enlightened by General Li Guang's Misery

Zhou Zheng

PureInsight | April 1, 2007

[PureInsight.org] Sometimes
things that have happened in history cannot be clearly understood. I
had read many stories about General Li Guang of the Han dynasty. He was
brave and resourceful and was particularly good at archery. He also
empathized with his soldiers. There are many poems and songs describing
him in history. But he didn't get rewarded for his accomplishments.
Instead, he committed suicide later in his life for not being willing
to accept humiliation. His whole family was all killed as ordered by
the Emperor because his grandson, Li Ling, surrendered to the Huns. I
often sighed with emotion when I read about this. Why is fate so
unpredictable that such a good person didn't receive his due reward? I
have recently attained a better understanding after I read the
Historical Records on the Biography of General Li. There was a
paragraph often overlooked by people.

Some Taoists or cultivators can predict good and bad fortunes through
observing the changes in celestial phenomena. Li Guang knew just such a
person by the name of Wang Shuo. He once asked Wang Shuo about his
situation: "Is it possible because of my facial features that I do not
deserve to be rewarded as a lord? Or is it decreed by fate?"

Wang Shuo said: "General, think about whether you have done something you have regretted deeply?"

Li Guang said: "I was once the head commander in Longxi. There was a
rebellion by the people of the Qiang nationality. I induced more than
eight hundred people to surrender and then I used a deceitful trick to
kill them all in one day. I still deeply regret it."

Wang Shuo said: "No other sin is greater than killing innocent people
who have surrendered. That is the reason you weren't rewarded with a

When I read about this, it became clear to me why Li Guang had suffered
his whole life. A general leading soldiers on a battlefield can be
expected to cause death. But massacring and slaughtering the innocent
at will is a high crime.

It is against the Heaven's law to murder several hundred surrendered
soldiers wrongfully. Li Guang himself couldn't possibly make up for the
suffering he brought upon them and their families. Even suffering in
his official career and his being sympathetic to his soldiers couldn't
make up for it. Towards the end, dozens of his family's lives had to
pay for it.

Buddhists believe in samsara. It is possible that Li Guang still had
other reasons in his previous lives. It is not hard to see the
impartiality of Heaven's arrangements.

This story gives us some enlightenment: When we encounter misfortune,
it is possible that we may have done something wrong in the past. Only
when we do good deeds can we shake off misfortune. If one continues to
do bad things or make arrogant demands, we will only incur more tragic

Likewise, when we see people around us suffering unjust treatment, it
would be good if we could help them. But at least we should not use
acerbic language to ridicule them or hit a person when he is already
down. Otherwise, it may be too late when we finally  understand
this one day.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/3/26/42962.html

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