Heart of Greed Abandoned, Heart of Virtue Kept
(Clearwisdom.net) Lin Ji was from Nanjianzhou of the Tang Dynasty. When Lin Ji was studying in Beijing, he took time off to go home to visit his mother who was sick. After his mother recovered, Lin Ji went back to Beijing right away. On the way, he stayed in a hotel. When he was about to sleep, he found a fabric pouch. Upon opening it, he found hundreds of valuable pearls in it.
Lin Ji asked the owner the next morning, "Who stayed in this room the night before last?" The owner said, "He is an extremely wealthy businessman." Lin Ji said, "He is one of my best friends. He was waiting for me here, but I was too late. If he comes back to look for me, please ask him to go and look for me at Beijing Guandao School. Please don't forget!" Lin Ji went on his journey after he paid the owner. On his way to Beijing, concerned that the owner might forget, he left hand-written posters along the way that read, "Lin Ji stayed in the hotel on xx date, xx year. The person who stayed in the room the previous night left without taking his pearls. Please come to Beijing Guandao School to look for Lin Ji."
The pearls were left at the hotel by a businessman named Mr. Zhang. He did not realize he had left the pearls until he was about to sell them at a market. He was devastated. The pearls were what he had accumulated after many years of hard work. Now he had lost them. How would his wife react? After thinking it over a lot, he decided to go back and look for them. He backtracked all they way back to the hotel where he had stayed. The hotel owner told him what Lin Ji asked him to tell the businessman, who also saw the posters put up by Lin Ji along the road. So he decided to go to Beijing Guandao School to find Lin Ji.
The businessman thanked Lin Ji on his knees after he went to Beijing Guandao School, and told Lin Ji the whole story in tears. Lin Ji asked him to tell exactly how many pearls were in the fabric pouch. Mr. Zhang answered correctly. Lin Ji then knew that it was his and gave it back to him. Mr. Zhang was so grateful that he offered to take only half of the pearls back for his family. Lin Ji said, "If I truly wanted to have half of your pearls, I would not have put up posters along the road asking you to look for me." Mr. Zhang insisted on giving him half, but Lin Ji firmly refused. After many rounds of back and forth, Mr. Zhang saw that Lin Ji had made up his mind. So he thanked Lin Ji and left with his pearls. He sold half of them and donated all the money to a temple to show his appreciation for the return of his pearls.
The ancients said, "When you do good deeds, you will be rewarded with good. When you do bad deeds, you will meet with karmic retribution. Those who do good deeds will certainly have good fortune and those who do bad deeds will certainly have misfortune." Lin Ji later passed the exam and became a high-ranking official. His two sons also became outstanding officials.