Stories from History: A Mother's Wisdom

Xiao Hui

PureInsight | February 24, 2008

[] Li Jingrang
lived during the Tang dynasty and held various official posts. He had
few desires and lived a frugal and honest life.

His father passed away when he was very young. His mother, Mrs. Zheng,
remained a widow. Because the family was not well off and couldn't
afford to hire a teacher, she taught her children herself.

One day, owing to a torrential rain, a wall in the back yard collapsed
and a jar of silver was exposed. When the maidservant found it and
happily came to tell his mistress, Mrs. Zheng burned incense and prayed
to heaven. She prayed, "Perhaps heaven has pity on us because my
children's father had accumulated good deeds and therefore gives us
this money. But my hope for my children is to have them excel in their
studies and earn an official salary. This unearned money is not what I
want." When she had finished praying, she ordered the maidservant to
bury the jar and rebuilt the collapsed wall.

Li Jingrang's mother was worried about her children having easy lives
without accomplishing anything. Under her teaching, all her three
children succeeded in the imperial examinations.

There was another story about her bringing up her children.

When Li Jingrang was an official in Zhejiangxi, a military officer
committed a crime and was beaten to death with a cane as punishment.
Many of his fellow soldiers were resentful and intended to desert. When
she heard about it, she called together everybody and reprimanded Li
Jiangrang in everyone's presence: "You applied punishment with little
thought and shamed me. How can I face everyone with a son who is so
unfaithful and so disrespectful of his mother?" Then she whipped Li
Jiangrang. Everyone was very touched and tried to get her to stop
punishing Li Jiangrang. The soldiers' morale was thus restored.  

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