Stories of Forbearance

Zhi Zhen

PureInsight | June 23, 2007


Keeping Promises

In the year 403 B. C., the Kingdom of Han invited the Kingdom of Wei to
attack the Zhou Kingdom.  Wei Wenhou, the founding Emperor of Wei,
declined and said, "The Zhou and Wei Kingdoms are like brothers and we
have a peace treaty with each other.  I am sorry." The envoy from
Han was very angry and left.

After the Emperor of Zhou learned about that, he was very appreciative
of the friendship between him and Wei Wenhou, but he, too, tried to
invite the Wei Kingdom to attack the Han Kingdom.  Wei Wenhou
declined the invitation and cited the same reason. The envoy from
Kingdom Zhou left in anger.

Later, the emperors of both the Zhou and Han Kingdoms thought about the
kind way of Wei Wenhou. They both admired Wei's tolerance and were
grateful for his friendship. They went to the Wei Kingdom to pay their
respect. After that, the Wei Kingdom became preeminent among the Wei,
Zhou, and Han Kindgoms and no other kingdoms at that time dared to
attack Wei.

(From Comprehensive Mirror)

What One Should Know and What One Should Remember

When Shenlingjun, a famous statesman and strategist during the Warring
States Period, won the battle against the Qin Kingdom and saved the
Kingdom of Zhou, the Emperor of Zhou personally greeted Shenlingjunm
outside the palace.  Tang Sui said to Shenlingjun , " I have heard
people say that there are events one should know and also events one
does not need to know. There are events one  should remember and
events one should forget."

Shenlingjun said, "Would you care to elaborate?"

Tang Sui said, "When others harbor resentment towards me, I need to
know.  If I have let others down, I must find a way to make it up
to them. If others misunderstand me, I should explain in a kind manner.
If I resent others, that is not the attitude I should have and I need
to replace it with forgiveness. During that process, I should not let
anyone know and avoid unnecessary irritation for others. When others
have done me a favor, I should not forget and I must find a way to
return the favor. If I have done others a favor, I should forget, so it
will not put great pressure on others. Now you have saved the Kingdom
of Zhou.  What a great favor that is!  The Emperor of Zhou
will meet you personally. After you meet the Emperor of Zhou, I hope
that you will forget what you have done for him.

Shenlingjun said, "Yes, I will follow your advice."

(From Zhanguoce)

Fathers-in-Law Should Be Deaf and Dumb

General Guo Ziyi had established great merit during the An Shi
Rebellion and was one of the founding fathers of the rejuvenation of
the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Daizhong had a great admiration for General
Guo, so he let his daughter, Princess Shengping, marry Guo's son, Guo

Once the young couple had a fight. When Guo Ai saw his wife acting like
a princess, he retorted, "What is so great about you? Is that because
your father is an emperor? To tell you the truth, if my father had not
defeated An Lushan, your father would not have had a dynasty. My father
did not think much of a throne and that is why that he is not an

After Princess Shengping heard such absurd remarks, she reported them to the emperor immediately.

Daizong listened to his daughter's complaint and said calmly, "You are
just a kid. There are many things that you don't understand.  What
your husband said is true. Your father-in-law has saved the
dynasty.  If he had wanted to be an emperor, he would have become
one long time ago. We would not have the empire for our family."
Daizong then advised his daughter not to take a remark from her husband
seriously or accuse him being rebellious but to live a nice and
peaceful life.  Princess Shengping slowly regained her composure
and returned to her husband.

Meanwhile, General Guo Ziyi learned about what his son had said, which
was so out-of-line that it almost sounded rebellious. He immediately
tied his son up and had him delivered to the palace for the emperor to
decide the outcome.

However, Daizong was very calm and comforted the general, "That is a
young couple's spat. Maybe there was an overstatement. But we are
older, please don't take it seriously.  There is an old saying
that father-in-laws should be deaf and dumb.  We will just pretend
that we did not hear about it."

After General Guo heard that, he was so relieved and was indeed very happy.

(From Comprehensive Mirror)

The Truth about Strength and Weakness

During the Northern Qi Era, Cui Luo became the left prime minister and
had won the trust and respect of Emperor Shizong.  Cui liked to
promote competent people. When he recommended Xing Zhou to be the prime
minister's aide in charge of classified materials, Shizong accepted

Since Xing was in charge of classified materials, he had many
opportunities to see Shizong. He often belittled Cui in front of
Shizong and Shizong was displeased.

On one occasion, Shizong told Cui, "You often tell me how good Xing is, but he often criticizes you. What a fool you are!"

Cui said with a broad mind, "Both of us are telling the truth and there is nothing wrong with what we say."

Cui was very generous towards others but strict with himself. He not
only recognized other's strengths and tolerated others' weaknesses but
also was able to face his own shortcomings.  How tolerant and
forgiving that is!

(from Northern Qi Shu)

* * * * * * * * *

There is an ancient saying: Tolerance makes one noble and being free of
desire makes one strong.  Forbearance is an extraordinary quality,
a broad mind, and a realm filled with compassion and
unselfishness.  Forbearance is a traditional Chinese virtue and
was passed down from the gods to human beings.  It also means that
the gods in Heaven wanted all human beings to have noble characters.

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