Stories from History: Heaven is the Most Unselfish and Righteous Judge

By Lotus in the Muddy World

PureInsight | July 7, 2008

[] According to the Book of Shang, one year after the Zhou Dynasty was conquered by the Shang Dynasty, Emperor Wuwang became very ill. Zhougong set up an altar and prayed to the three former emperors of the Zhou Dynasty (Taiwang, Wangji and Wenwang). He pledged his own life as collateral, "Your grandson is very ill. I am willing to replace Wuwang to serve ghosts and gods (meaning I am willing to die if Wuwang lives). I am obedient and capable. I am more suitable than Wuwang to serve ghosts and gods. Wuwang is currently taking the appointment of Heaven to rule in the world. People live stably and revere gods. Please let Wuwang continue his duties. Please consider this request and then decide." After the prayer, Zhougong did a divination and it boded well. The official historian transcribed the words of Zhougong's prayer and placed it into a metal casket and put it away. The next day, Wuwang got better.
Later, after Wuwang passed away, Chengwang became the emperor and Zhougong served as regent (caretaker of the thrown). Chengwang's uncle Guan and his brothers spread rumors slandering Zhougong. They ganged up with adherents from the Shang Dynasty to rebel against the Zhou. Zhougong went to the East to fight against them for two years and finally put down the rebellion.
However, Chengwang had heard Guan's rumors and became suspicious of Zhougong. In the autumn when Zhougong put down the rebellion, the crops were bountiful and almost ready to be harvested. Suddenly, there was lightning, thunder and gale force winds. Trees were uprooted, and the crops were blown to the ground. People were frightened. Chengwang and his ministers dressed in ceremonial attire, and they opened the metal casket and read Zhougong's prayer from years before. Then they consulted several witnesses of that incident who all said, "It is true. Zhougong didn't want us to make this incident public."
Chengwang realized that the thunder, lightning and wind were signs that the gods were angry with him and also pointed out Zhougong's merits and virtues. At the same time, these omens were also to remind him to correct his mistakes. Therefore, when Zhougong was returning from the East, Chengwang went to the countryside to greet Zhougong in person. It was still raining but the wind suddenly reversed direction, driving the crops upright again.
The ancients truly believed that "There are deities three feet above one's head." They believed deities know mankind's every thought. They also believed that deities only help those who have virtue. In another words, Heaven is the most unselfish and righteous judge. All good and evil in the human world, every single thought that a person has and each idea that crosses his mind are seen by the multitude of gods. Therefore, if any strange phenomenon occurred, the ancient good emperors and saints would examine themselves to see if any part of their conduct was not aligned with the heavenly principles. If they found anything inappropriate, they immediately corrected their mistakes. No one dared to lie to Heaven. One time Confucius was very ill. His student Zilu along with other students wanted to raise Confucius's social status, so they had organized a funeral committee for Confucius, which was not appropriate according to the law and principles governing funeral rites. (Based on Confucius's social status, the funeral committee should only be set up after his death.) Later, Confucius got well. After he heard of this, he was very angry. He said, "I have been ill for a long time. What Zilu did was fraud. I am not qualified to have a funeral committee while I am alive, but you organized one. Who did I cheat? Didn't I cheat Heaven?" This demonstrated how Confucius revered gods! Zhougong's loyalty to the Zhou Dynasty could be seen by Heaven, but Chengwang was suspicious of him. Therefore, Heaven used the thunder, lightning and wind to warn Chengwang. After Chengwang corrected his mistake, Heaven encouraged him by reversing the wind's direction. People often say, "Heaven has eyes." This is an absolute truth.

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