A Wise Mother

Yang Jidai

PureInsight | September 9, 2007

[PureInsight.org] Tian Ji was
the prime minister of the Ji State during the Warring States
Period.  The Ji State was very strong at that time. Because Tian
Ji was the prime minister, the Ji State could maintain its political
integrity and all its officials were decent and incorruptible. However,
people did not give credit to Tian Ji but to his mother for her
superior guidance.

One day, after work, Tian Ji rode home in his carriage. As usually, he
went to pay respect to his mother first.  His mother was very good
at observing and knew how he had managed the States' affairs just from
the expression on his face and his words. After a few minutes of
chitchat, Tian Ji was happy and took out some gold pieces. He
respectfully handed them over with both hands. "These are from my

His mother looked at the gold pieces and became suspicious. She asked
with a serious face, "You have been a prime minister for three years
and you did not make this amount of money. Is this from the king or
from your subordinate?" Tian Ji was afraid to say a word.  Tian's
mother already had some inklings and asked ," Why aren't you answering

Even though Tian Ji was a prime minister and was quite dignified at
work, at home he was very much afraid of his mother's strict
discipline. He never thought about lying to his mother, so he told the
entire truth. It turned out that one of his subordinates did something
wrong and wanted Tian Ji to say a few good words on his behalf to the
king, so he could be pardoned. He gave these gold pieces to Tian
Ji.  Tian refused to take them in the beginning, but this official
was persistent and he said that it was his way to pay respects to
Tian's mother.  Tian was well-known as a dutiful son and he could
not resist the idea of pleasing his mother, so eventually he accepted
the gold pieces.

After hearing the story, Tian Ji's mother said, "Listen, my son, since
you accepted a bribe from your subordinate, you are dishonest, you are
disloyal to the king, and you are also disobedient to me! I heard that
a person should be strict with himself and be scrupulous and not take
things that do not belong to him. He should be open and honest and not
deceive others.  Do not harbor ideas that are unjust or accept
anything that is sinful. Your actions should match your words. 
Now you have accepted a bribe and you not only have to help someone
avoid being punished but also destroy the rules of the state. You are
dishonest and also fail to uphold justice. You are a prime minister and
get paid very well. However, your behavior has violated the king's
trust.  How do you show your gratitude to the king? As a high
ranking officer, you must serve the king the same way that you serve
your own father. You must do your best to fulfill your responsibilities
even if you have to give up your life. When you can maintain the laws
in this state and set a good example, you will be a decent and honest
official, so disasters will never happen to you. However, you are too
far from that. You are not loyal to the king. In addition you accepted
a bribe for my sake and damaged my reputation. You are a disloyal
official and also a disobedient son to me. A disobedient son is not my
son and I ask you to get out of this house immediately!"

After Tian Ji's mother said that, she immediately walked away with her cane and went back to her room.

Meanwhile Tian Ji crawled on the floor and wished that he could
disappear into a crack on the floor. His heart was filled with shame
and fear.

 The following day, Tian Ji went to see Ji Xuan Wang, the King of
the Ji State. Tian resigned from his post and asked for punishment for
his crime.

Xuan Wang sent someone to investigate the entire affair and greatly
admired the noble character of Tian Ji's mother.  Xuna Wang paid a
personal visit to Tian Ji's mother and all officials accompanying the
king were all impressed with her behavior.  Xuan Wang told all the
officials, "With a wise mother like that, her son will be a wonderful
official. When the mother of my prime minister is so virtuous, I have
no doubt all my officials will be ethical and honest."  He praised
Tian Ji in front of Tian Ji's mother for his open and honest character
and his willing to admit his mistake.  The king not only pardoned
Tian for his crime but also restored his position and awarded gold and
silk to Tian's mother to express his admiration.

From that time on, Tian Ji paid more attention to maintaining a noble
character.  He became a well-accomplished prime minister of the
Warring States Period.

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