Honest and Upright, Humble and Selfless
(Clearwisdom.net) Yu Qian lived in Qiantang City during the Ming Dynasty (now Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province). When he was seven years old, a monk predicted he would be a "Prime minister who would save the country." Yu Qian later became a famous general. He received many awards for outstanding achievement, and accepted many key military positions in his lifetime. He was a good man, righteous, honest and fair. He did not pander to those of higher rank, yet was well respected by all.
Yu Qian was deeply concerned about the lives of the people. During his tenure as the circuit inspector for two provinces, the people looked up to and respected him like a parent. A poem praising him was widespread there: "Heaven sends a kind officer to save the two provinces."
Whenever an officer from outlying regions went to visit the capital, he was expected to take a large amount of money and local specialties to bribe higher officers. Yu Qian went to the capital empty-handed every time. He never took any gifts or bribed anyone. Henan Province was well known for its mushrooms and incense. Officials advised him that if he wouldn't take gold, silver, or pearls to the higher ranking officials he was to meet, he should at least take some mushrooms and incense. Yu Qian raised his arms and said amusingly that all he would take with him was the cool breeze in his sleeves. In later years, people used the phrase "cool breeze in his sleeves" to praise officials with uncorrupted character. This is where the phrase, which is popular in China, originates.
Although Yu Qian held key positions, he insisted on living a frugal life. The rooms in his house were very simple and functional; they served only to shelter him from wind and rain. Except for the robes and swords given by the Emperor, his house had not a single valuable item. The Emperor awarded him a huge mansion near Xihuamen. He said: "Our country is suffering from many difficulties. How dare I, as a servant, seek luxury and comfort?" He firmly declined the award.
Yu Qian made huge contributions, yet he never mentioned his contributions. One time when he won a big victory in a war, Shi Xiang, a fighting marshal, whose contribution was less than Yu Qian, was awarded Shihou (a high rank in society that could be passed on to one's descendants). The marshal felt guilty and wrote a letter to the Emperor to recommend Yu Qian's son, Yu Mian. The Emperor issued an imperial summons to invite Yu Mian to the capital. Yu Mian thanked the Emperor but declined to come to the capital. Yu Qian said: "Our country has many difficulties. As your servant, I cannot be concerned about my own interest." He expressed his view firmly: "I cannot let my son abuse my achievement."
Yu Qian set famous loyal and righteous personalities in history as examples for himself. He refused to yield to power. He was fair and righteous all his life. He wrote two poems, North Wind Blowing and Ode to Limestone, expressing his aspirations. Solemn righteousness and a fearless spirit uphold the principles flowing from the words of his poems, the principles of Yu Qian's life.
In later years, Yu Qian was sentenced to death after being falsely accused by corrupt officials. He was buried in the mountain area of Santai in the West Lake. His tomb was some distance from, but faced the tomb of Yue Fei--a general who was well known for his loyalty and righteousness. Loyal and righteous people and souls have been praised for thousands of years!