Run the Family Strictly But with Integrity
(Clearwisdom.net) In the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.), there was a gentleman named Li Jingrang that lived in Loyang City in what is now China's Henan Province. His father died young, and his mother, Zheng Shi (which means her maiden name is Zheng but her first name is unknown), ran the family strictly but with integrity, and all of her three sons were very successful.
Once, an old wall behind her house collapsed after a rain, and a boat full of coins was uncovered. Her maids ran to tell Zheng Shi, who burnt some incense, and prayed to the heavens: "I've heard that gain without pain brings disasters. Heaven must have pitied my poor situation, and my husband must have accumulated virtue, so you brought me these coins. I only hope the children can be successful even without their father around. I dare not touch this extra money!"
She soon gave orders to have the coins re-buried and the wall re-built to cover them up.
Zheng Shi strictly disciplined her first son, Li Jingrang, when he made mistakes, even after he grew up and became an official. Once he beat to death with a stick one of his soldiers who had disobeyed him. The whole army was angry at his cruelty, and they almost rebelled against him. When Zheng Shi heard this, she ran to the camp, sat in the middle of the room, and ordered Li Jingrang to stand in the middle of the yard. She condemned him: "The Emperor bestowed upon you an important duty to guard one side of the country. How can you kill an innocent person just because of your anger? You have no excuse to use capital punishment like this. If you cause one side of the country to be restless, not only have you let down the Emperor, but also I have no dignity to face our ancestors. I will die in shame!"
She ordered her son's clothes to be stripped off, planning to whip him. All of the other army officials and soldiers begged her not to, and they were all crying. After a long while, Zheng Shi released her son, and the whole army returned to peace.
Zheng Shi's three sons, Li Jingrang, Li Jingwen, and Li Jingzhuang, all passed the highest official test within the top three of their year and became high ranking officials.
Pay attention to accumulating virtue; it is much more important than having wealth. That is why Zheng Shi would've rather been poor than use money that came without effort. She set an example for her children with regard to virtue. When her children made mistakes, she never helped to cover them up or defended them. Instead, she let her children learn right and wrong and sincerely corrected their mistakes. One of the reasons that the children of the Li family were so successful is because Zheng Shi strictly educated her children with integrity. Also, their ancestors had accumulated virtue.