Provide Frank Advice, Be Loyal to Friends, and Repay the Kindness of Others
(Clearwisdom.net) Li Daliang (A.D. 586-644, Tang Dynasty) was from Jingyang County (currently in Shaanxi Province). He was an honest and discreet Capitol City Official, although he was not considered a gifted speaker. However, with a strong and resolute heart, he would not hesitate to engage in frank and open discussions with the Emperor, showing himself to be tenacious and unwavering. He also held high moral standards, demonstrated loyalty to his friends, and repaid the kindness of others.
As a government official, Li cared little for his own fame and always gave the Emperor frank advice. Both the people and the country benefited as a result of the many good suggestions that Li gave Emperor Tang Taizong. Li's first official appointment was Mayor of Yuezhong. At the beginning of Zhen'guan Year (the ruling period of Tang Taizong is called Zhen'guan), he was transferred back to the central government and promoted to Taifuqing (a position very close to the Emperor). He was later appointed Mayor of Liangzhou City. One of the officials who worked with him once spotted a magnificent eagle and suggested that Li give it to the Emperor as a gift (because Tang Taizong used to love eagles as pets). In a secret letter to the Emperor, Li wrote, "Your Highness, you stopped hunting a long time ago, but one of your officials has been looking for eagles for you. If this were your idea, you would be violating your old rules; but if this is his idea, you have the wrong person in office."
Taizong replied in his letter, "Since I have such a good official in you, I really don't need to worry about anything. Ancient people considered words like yours to have great weight, perhaps as much as a thousand pounds. Today, I am granting you a huping (a foreign vase). Although it does not weigh that much, it is one of my personal belongings." Later, the Emperor gave him the book Han Ji (History of Han) as well.
Li Daliang also held high moral standards and demonstrated loyalty to his friends. He served his older brother and sister-in-law so well that he gained a great reputation. When his poor relatives died with no money for burial, Li always took care of it with his own money. The government had granted him many servants, but Li gave them all to his relatives. Although he was a famous, high-ranking official, he lived a very simple life. His home was small and unpretentious without any decorations.
After he defeated Fu Gongshi, Li was rewarded with one hundred servants. But he said to the servants, "You are all children of good people, but misfortune has made you homeless. How could I take you as servants?" He released them all. When Emperor Tang Gaozu (Tabg Taizong's father) heard about this, he praised Li's action.
When others are kind to you, you should remember them and repay them. This is called, "Zhi En Bi Bao" ("Remember the kindness of others and repay them"). Li was a person who lived this proverb. Zhang Bi had once saved Li Daliang's life. After Li became rich and famous, he often thought of Zhang and looked for opportunities to repay him. But Zhang too was a person of high moral standards. He helped and saved others but never sought repayment. In fact, when he heard that Li was looking to repay his kindness, he purposely avoided Li.
Li looked for Zhang everywhere but was unable to find him. One day, he finally met Zhang on the street. With tears in his eyes, he held Zhang's hands and humbly offered him all his money. Zhang insisted that he would not accept this offer. Li also told the Emperor that Zhang's accomplishments were largely responsible for Li's success. Li asked the Emperor to grant his own position and title to Zhang. The Emperor promoted Zhang as a result of Li's request.
At that time, everyone praised Li for his act of remembering and repaying the kindness he had received from Zhang; at the same time, people also praised Zhang for his humility.
June 7, 2007