"The Stomach of a Prime Minister Can Hold a Paddle Boat"


PureInsight | April 20, 2008

[PureInsight.org] People often use the expression of "The stomach of a prime minister can hold a paddle boat" to describe a person's broadmindedness. Since broadmindedness is a moral characteristic of a noble person, why, then, we don't demand it of ourselves?

Fu Bi was a renowned prime minister in the Song dynasty who served three emperors. He had large capacity for tolerance even when he was young. The History of the Song described him as follows: "He was frugal and polite. When he talked to others, even to the young and lowly, he treated them with equal respect. His countenance was always peaceful and respectful and he rarely got angry. His natural instinct was kind and he hated evil."

When people scolded him, he turned a deaf ear to them. It seemed like he didn't hear anything. Once, a person beside him told him: "That person is cursing you!" Fu Bi said: "I am afraid he is cursing someone else." That person said to him again: "He is calling your name. How can he be cursing someone else?" Fu Bi said: "There are many people who have the same name." When the person who was cursing him heard these words, he felt very ashamed.

Fu Bi often cautioned his children: "Tolerance can solve many problems. If one is honest and upright, simple and unembellished, kind, as well as tolerant, there is nothing he can not do well."
Yuan Lefan in the Ming dynasty once said: "If one used to flare up, he should call to mind: 'People all have weaknesses. Even though sometimes they do not follow conventional etiquette, how can I let them influence me?  Besides, there is nothing to be furious about. When someone's conduct is not proper, it could be that my cultivation hasn't reached a high enough level such that I could help to change him by my example.' We should then reflect to ourselves that the other person's slander is my retribution and be glad to accept it. Is there anything to get angry at? When we hear others slandering us, we need not get angry, even if the slanderous talk is everywhere. It is like tending a fire in the sky: the fire will extinguish itself. When we hear slanderous remarks and do our utmost to defend ourselves, it is like the spring silkworms making silk: they will entangle themselves eventually. Getting angry not only does not pay, it is very harmful."

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