Chinese Idioms: Repay a Favor with Gratitude

PureInsight | October 14, 2007

[] During the
Spring and Autumn Period, the great General Wu Zixu, from the State of
Wu led his soldiers in an attack on the State of Zheng. Zheng Ding
Gong, King of the Zheng State, said, "Anyone who can make General Wu
lead his soldiers back home and not attack us will receive a great
reward." But no one could think of a way.

On the fourth day, a young fisherman came to see Zheng Ding Gong, "I know a way to make Wu Zixu not attack us."

Zheng Ding Gong asked, "How many soldiers and carriages do you need?"

The young fisherman shook his head and said, "I don't need soldiers or
carriages. I don't need food either. All I need is this oar and I can
ask tens of thousands of their soldiers to go home."

The young fisherman put his oar under his arm and went to see Wu Zixu.

He was singing and beating his oar at the same time, "Someone in the
tent, someone in the tent, crossing the river and owes a favor. You
carry the precious sword with great authority. Do you remember the old

Wu Zixu saw the oar in the young man's hand and asked, "Young man, who are you?"

The young fisherman said, "Did you see this oar in my hand, it belongs to my father. Didn't he save your life with it?"

Wu heard that and said, "Yes, I remember, when I was in danger before,
a fisherman save my life and I want to repay him for that. You are his
son, but why are you here?"

The young man said, "That is because you want to attack our state. All
the fishermen are here. Our king said, "Anyone who can make the Wu
soldiers go home will receive a great reward! I hope that you, the
great general of Wu, will remember my late father who saved your life
once. If you do not attack the State of Zheng, I can go back to ask for
my reward."

Wu Zixu said with gratitude, "Only because your father saved me could I
become a major general. How can I forget his favor? I must help you in
this matter."

Wu Zixu immediately led all the soldiers back to the State of Wu. The
young fisherman went back joyfully and told the king the good news. All
of a sudden, everyone in the entire state treated him as a savior. The
king also rewarded him with one hundred acres of fine land.

Wu Zixu wanted to repay a favor and withdrew all the soldiers so the
young man could get the reward.  "Repay a favor with gratitude" is
part of the traditional Chinese culture.

"Repay a favor with gratitude" means that we should not only be
grateful to others who have done us a favor but also should find an
opportunity to repay them someday.

Translated from:

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