Benevolence and Virtue Can Change People
(Clearwisdom.net) Lu Gong lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220). He studied the Five Classics and Lu Poetry when he was very young. Given his studies, he became well-known for his wealth of knowledge. The governor knew that he was poor and therefore sent him grain every year, but Lu Gong did not accept it. The governor admired his noble character and wanted to give him an official position, as he was too young to be an office holder. Lu Gong politely declined.
After Lu Gong came of age, he became the governor of Zhong Mou County. At the beginning of his term, he won admiration because of his great virtue and moral behavior. He applied virtue to change people, instead of punishment. During his time in office, people were honest and lived peacefully.
On one occasion, someone complained to Lu Gong that someone called Ting Chang had borrowed his cow and refused to return it. Ting Chang was consequently brought in for questioning.
"You borrowed someone's cow and you should return it after the work has been done. Now the owner has come to me to complain. After you return the cow, you should also apologize."
Ting Chang said,"When did I borrow his cow? That is my cow!"
The cow owner said, "This is not true! You borrowed my cow, but why don't you admit it?"
Tin Chang responded. "He is making this up! Why would I borrow a cow from him?"
Lu Gong sighed deeply, "There is no need to argue. It doesn't matter which one of you is right. I am responsible. It is my failure that I have not been able to change you into people with high morals. I believe it to be my fault." After he said that, he took off his official robes and was on the verge of resigning.
"Please don't quit," his subordinates begged him in tears.
"Please don't leave us," cried all his citizens.
"Please don't quit. I'll give up my cow," said the cow owner.
After seeing this, Ting Chang was very embarrassed. He said,"I made a mistake. The devil made me do this. I will return the cow to him. Please punish me for my crime." Ting Chang finally admitted his wrongdoing. Lu Gong asked Ting Chang to return the cow and did not punish him. All the citizens were impressed by the way Lu Gong handled the situation.
One time locusts invaded all the counties, with the exception of Zhong Mou. Minister Yuan An from Henan heard about it and did not quite believe it. He sent Fei Qin, an official, to investigate. Lu Gong accompanied Fei Qin to inspect the field. Fei Qin sat under a mulberry tree and saw a pheasant fall down and a child nearby.
"Why don't you catch the bird?" asked Fei Qin.
"She is hatching the little pheasants and I feel sorry for her."
Fei Qin got up immediately after hearing that and went back to report to Yuan An.
"There are three things very unusual in Zhong Mou County. First, the locusts will not invade that county. Second, even the birds and animals are immersed in compassion. Third, even a little child has compassion in his heart. If I had stayed there any longer, I would only have disturbed the goodness that permeated that county."
Minister Yuan An reported Lu Gong's good deed to the imperial court.
After Lu Gong finished his term in Zhong Mou County, he was transferred to the imperial court, because of his outstanding performance, and promoted to prime minister.
Lu Gong was a good official and stressed the importance of moral behavior. The people loved him because he was tolerant and benevolent. Stories about the way he applied virtue to change people were told for generations.
Today, when we are trying to bring back the ancient god-culture, we should cherish life, be concerned about the future, and inspire compassion in everyone's heart. Such behavior shows a broad mind, a noble spiritual realm, respect for and responsibility toward lives, and also gratitude for the blessings bestowed by Heaven.