In the era of Kang Xi Xinhai during the Qing Dynasty, a married couple was irrigating the fields at the foot of Mt. Xielu in the Kunshan Mountains. Without warning, a thunderstorm started. There was a sudden clap of thunder, and the husband was struck by lightening and killed. People who knew him said that he had been a fairly honest person, and they did not understand why this had happened to him.

His wife sighed, "It is all because of eighteen pounds of meat!" People were surprised to hear this and asked her what she meant. She said, "Last winter, he went into town to pay the rent and taxes. As he docked his boat by the bank of the river, he noticed that there was a piece of meat in an empty boat. No one was there, so he picked up the meat and brought it home. He weighed the meat, and it was about eighteen pounds.

It turned out that the meat belonged to a rich family that lived by the river. While the family maid was washing the meat, something distracted her that caused her to leave the boat for a while. When she returned, she was not able to find the meat anywhere. When the maid went home without the meat, the lady of the house became very angry. She began beating the maid to punish her. She beat the maid so severely, she accidentally killed her. Her husband became very distressed over this and berated his wife, saying that her deed could bring the entire family to ruin. The wife felt so terrible, she committed suicide by hanging herself. My husband was struck by lightning all because of this."

When they obtain ill-gotten wealth, people who do not know the truth might think they have gained a big advantage. But it will, in fact, bring only trouble to themselves and others. It is a case of losing virtue. What might seem to be a small advantage could lead to big trouble. Is there not a valuable lesson in this story?

September 18, 2006