Yang Zhen - An Irreproachable Functionary


PureInsight | January 20, 2008

[PureInsight.org] There was a
person named Yang Zhen in the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD). He
studied the classics hard since childhood and was well versed in
Confucian classics and history. People called him "Confucius of the
Western Land."

Yang Zhen didn't care for an official career. He taught students for
more than twenty years. Later, when senior general Deng Zhi heard of
his ability, he appointed him to an official position. In the course of
his official duties, he was honest and upright and never accepted any
bribes. He was promoted four times successively. Prior to departing for
Jingzhou as the prefecture governor, his old friend Wang Mi, who had
been recommended by Yang Zhen for an official position, brought 10 Jin
of gold when he went to visit him deep in the night.

Yang Zhen refused to accept the gold and said: "I understand you as
your old friend. But you don't understand your old friend. Why are you
doing this?" Wang Mi replied: "No one will know about it in the middle
of night." Yang Zhen said: "Heaven knows. The gods know. I know and you
know. How can you say no one knows?" Wang Mi left extremely ashamed.

Later, Yang Zhen was transferred to Zhuozhou as prefecture chief. He
never accepted any private invitations. His descendants ate only simple
foods and never traveled in a vehicle when they went out. Old friends
and elders in the family advised him to acquire an estate for his
descendants. Yang Zhen said: "I want to be an irreproachable
functionary. I want people in later generations to know my descendants
are the descendants of an irreproachable functionary. I leave this
tradition to my descendants. Isn't this the richest inheritance for

What an irreproachable functionary! How many in today's Chinese
official circles can call themselves irreproachable functionaries? And
how many of them understand that the richest inheritance for their
descendants is not how much money they leave for them, but, instead,
their spirit in leaving them a lasting reputation?

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