Stories from History: The Exceptional Virtues

PureInsight | January 2, 2008

Compiled by Xiao Hui

[] In the Tang dynasty, Han Yuan spent some time
guarding Xiangzhou. Part of that time he lived outside because he was
worshipping at the Confucian Temple.

At night, a thief went to Han Yuan's room with a sharp weapon. He said
to Han Yuan: "I am not able to support myself, so I am asking you to
give me some treasure." Han Yuan said: "The stuff on the table is worth
about a thousand Min, you can take it all." The thief said: "I would
like to have your head and give it to the ethnic groups in the west."
Han Yuan bent his neck so as to allow the thief to cut off his head.

However, the thief did not take action but saying with his head
lowered: "I heard that you are very open-minded and I came here to test
you. I am going to take the staff on the table, but I hope you don't
let this story out." Han Yuan said: "I promise you: I will never tell
anyone else about this."

Later on, the thief was arrested because of other crimes and was
sentenced to death. Before he was executed, he told the story above to
others. He said: "I think that, based on Han Yuang's personality, he
will not tell that tale to other people after I die, so I would like to
let you know about his virtue."

The story of Han Yuan reminded me of the Bishop Myriel in Les Misérable,
who touched Jean Valjean's soul. The similarity between the two
characters is that they both had compassionate feelings for all mankind
and would sacrifice themselves to save other's souls. With such great
humanity, how could people's spirits not be touched? Therefore we saw
similarity in the confession from the thief before he died and the
rebirth of Jean Valjean's life.

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