A Culture Passed Down by the Ancients: Upholding Virtue and Having Selfless Compassion For Others in Need
(Clearwisdom.net) In ancient China there was a saying "Whether rich or poor, do not be moved by self interest or gain, nor yield to power and force." During the Southern Song Dynasty, besides Wen Tianxiang, there was another man who was known to have the same courage and righteousness as Su Wu from the Han dynasty. His name was Hong Hao.
Hong Hao was born in Poyang (currently Boyang in Jiangxi Province). He was righteous and showed ambition from a young age. He once served as a diplomat in the Jin nation, but later he was exiled for 15 years and suffered tremendous hardships. He was, however, unmoved by adversity and loved his people selflessly. As a result, he was well respected.
Hong Hao was selected to be the person in charge of Xiu Zhou in the year of Xuan He. There was a serious flood that year and many people were homeless. Hong Hao volunteered to take responsibility for the task of saving people from this disaster. He distributed food at low prices to the victims, for which the people were very grateful. At that time the palace received its food from east of Zhejiang Province. Hong Hao asked a local official to give the food to the locals that were starving. The official did not agree. Hong Hao said, "I am willing to exchange my life for ten thousand lives." People were deeply moved and called him "Buddha Hong." Later when the Xiu Zhou army rebelled and millions became victims of reckless wartime robbery, no one dared to enter Hong Hao's house. They all knew that it was the home of Buddha Hong.
In the third year of Gao Zong, Hong Hao was sent to the Jin nation. The top official, Wanyan Zonghan, tried to assign him against his will to be an official for Liu Yu, the traitor of the Southern Song Dynasty. Hong Hao sternly refused. Wanyan Zonghan was furious and wanted to kill him. Another official praised Hong Hao for having true loyalty and knelt in front of Wanyan Zongha to beg him to spare Hong Hao's life. Hong Hao consequently survived, but was exiled to the Lengshan area (currently north of Nongan in Jilin Province).
It was very cold in Lengshan and it started snowing in August. Hong Hao lived in a cave. Sometimes he could not get any food. In the hot summer he still wore thick clothes. He once used up all his wood during a snowstorm and had to burn horse dung to cook noodles. During that time, Jin nation frequently sent people to try to persuade him to give in. But Hong Hao was never tempted. Later, after hearing about his reputation, the head of Jin nation appointed him a top official. Hong Hao once again refused. Although he was in a very difficult situation, he still tried his best to help the Song Dynasty to rescue its people from captivity.
In the twelfth year of Shaoxing (year 1142AD), Jin and Song negotiated peace. The head of Jin nation decided to forgive all political criminals on the occasion of the birth of his first son. As a result, Hong Hao could go home. When he saw the emperor, he asked to go back to his hometown to take care of his mother. The emperor said, "You have been so loyal to my nation. Your reputation surpasses Su Wu. How can you leave me?"
Hong Hao was exiled for 15 years. Among the 13 people who were exiled, only three came back alive. Hong Hao was the only one who was known for being loyal.
During his stay in Jin nation, although his situation was very difficult, Hong Hao was righteous and courageous. Even the people in Jin nation admired him. Poems about him were printed and circulated among the Jin people. After he returned home, whenever Jin's messenger went to visit Song nation, he would always ask about Hong Hao.
Hong Hao once told Qin Hui (the person who framed and killed Prime Minister Yue Fei, the national hero) that he must take back the land in the north. As a result, Qin Hui was jealous of him. He repeatedly framed him and caused Hong Hao to be exiled again for over ten years. Hong Hao died in Nan Xiong state at the age of 68. The day after he passed away, Qin Hui also died. When the emperor heard about the death of Hong Hao, he was sad and honored him with an award, securing his fame.
Because of his righteousness, Hong Hao has lived on in people's hearts for years. Meanwhile, those people who abandoned their conscience for personal gain and self interest have always been looked down upon.