"One Should Be the First to Be Concerned about the State"
(Clearwisdom.net) Mr. Fan Zhongyan was a very famous politician and writer during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). He wrote the everlasting sentences: "Not pleased by external gains, not saddened by personal losses" and "One should be the first to think about the state and the last to claim his share of happiness" ("The Yueyang Tower"). Honest scholar-officials used his ideas as models for their lives. His morality and virtue have been admired throughout history.
Mr. Fan Zhongyan studied very hard when he was young. He read into the night every day. He learned classic Confucianism and determined that "a true gentleman should serve and help the public." He even said, "I should become a good doctor if I cannot be a good minister of the state." When he grew older, he was greatly influenced by Buddhism. He worshiped gods and Buddhas. Confucianism's "benevolent people care about others, and this includes the whole nation" and Buddhism's "Buddha nature is to be benevolent and merciful to all sentient beings" influenced him a great deal. His notion to save the nation and his belief in being an upright and just official so that he could take good care of his people as if they were his children, originated from those principles. He saw his mission as saving people from hardships and caring for each life.
"Not pleased by external gains, nor saddened by personal losses." ("The Yueyang Tower") Mr. Fan Zhongyan said that one should set aside personal interests, and not to be pleased or saddened by personal gains or losses. He held official positions for several decades, but he always lived a simple life. He didn't even build himself a large house when he became Premier. Someone wanted to build a new house for him, but he said, "A person should pursue morality and justice. If he has morality and justice in his mind, he will be happy in any living conditions. So please don't talk about a new house for me anymore." Mr. Fan didn't buy any land or goods for his children, either. He used all his savings to establish schools, buy farmland to give to the poor, and conduct other charity work.
He was exiled several times for speaking up for justice but was not upset when it happened. "Leaving the capital city three times" is a perfect example. In the seventh year of the Tiansheng Period in the Northern Song Dynasty, he was appointed Imperial Editor of the Capital city. He wrote a letter criticizing the empress dowager's extravagance and wastefulness. For this he was exiled.
In the second year of the Mingdao Period of the Northern Song Dynasty, Mr. Fan was the Deputy Imperial Censor for the Capital city. However, he was exiled to Muzhou Prefecture for insisting on seeking justice for other people. In the second year of the Jingyou Period of the Northern Song Dynasty, Mr. Fan was promoted to Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Rites. Premier Luu Yijan was afraid that Mr. Fan would point out his mistakes and make it impossible for him to control state affairs, so Luu asked the Emperor to appoint Mr. Fan as Governor of the Kaifeng Prefecture (today's Henan Province). Luu also sent people to warn Mr. Fan "since you are not a censor, stop talking about state affairs." But Mr. Fan remained concerned about the welfare of the country. He continued speaking up for the people and was never afraid of the rich and powerful. As he said in a letter, "I maintain a strong confidence in my beliefs and don't regret being exiled three times."
Mr. Fan was "concerned about their emperor when being in a remote place." When he was asked to go home, he was deeply concerned about state affairs and wrote a 10,000-word letter "About Administration." In the letter, he suggested many approaches to improve governance of the area, such as "selecting good governors, eradicating laziness and arrogance, being cautious about elections, focusing on education, selecting the generals properly, keeping the honest officials who dare to speak out, and criticizing the sinister and sycophant officers."
Mr. Fan was "concerned about the people who were in high positions at court." When he was the Deputy Imperial Censor, there was a great drought and locusts in the area east of the capital city and in the Jianghuai region. Mr. Fan asked the Emperor to send officials to bring aid to the area. But Song Renzong, then the emperor, did not pay much attention. Mr. Fan asked Renzong, "What would you do if there was no food in your palace for even half a day?" Emperor Renzong felt ashamed and sent Mr. Fan to manage the relief work. Fan opened a shelter for the poor. He also asked to waive or reduce taxes for the people. He brought some Wuwei grass, a wild grass that people had been eating because there was nothing else to eat, back to the capital city. He asked Renzong to show it to all the officials and everyone in the palace so that they would remember the hardships that the people were enduring and henceforward be less extravagant and wasteful.
Mr. Fan concentrated on the welfare of his country whether he held a top position or had been demoted. When he was Premier, he appointed officials based on their merits, punished corrupt officials, and did things for the public good. When he was sent to local areas as a minor official, he still managed to help the local people. For example, he was once the supervisor of the salt storehouse in Hailing County, Taizhou County, Shandong Province. He saw that the dam had not been maintained for many years and was in very bad shape. The sea water had flooded a great deal of the farm land, and thousands of people had had to abandon their homes. He wrote to the Emperor immediately, asking for the dam to be repaired. His request was approved. He was then appointed Governor of Xinghua County to oversee the dam repair. Mr. Fan led the building of a dam along the east coast to hold back the sea water, protect people's property, and allow people to return to their homes and land. In recognition of Mr. Fan's achievements, the people called the sea dam "Mr. Fan's Dam."
Mr. Fan lived by the principle of "no cheating." When Mr. Jia An, the new master of the national scholar-official test, visited him for advice on self-improvement, Mr. Fan told him, "Only the words 'no cheating' can benefit you for the rest of your life." Mr. Jia An later became the Imperial Minister. He was very fair and just and dared to speak out. "No cheating" means being open, upright, and honorable; "no cheating" is to not cheat the Emperor, the public, or one's own conscience. Mr. Fan strictly followed the "no cheating" principle his entire life. He applied it to his official duties, personal business, and his family.
He was very kind and helpful to others. He recognized and promoted many people that had wisdom and virtue. Whenever he became a local official, he managed generously and kept people happy. The local culture and moral standards were greatly influenced by his actions. People started paying attention to their reputations and morality and felt that it was shameful to pursue money or personal interests. Everyone was conscious about decency and shame. No one dared to do bad things.
Thinking about the welfare of his country and people, Mr. Fan's principles of "one should be the first to be concerned about the state and the last to claim his share of happiness" has influenced thousands of people. Many people of purpose and virtue and men of honor throughout history have demonstrated this principle. But now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is against rationality, against orthodoxy, and against morality. It violates the universe's laws and disrespects lives. It is facing destruction. People of insight have been clarifying the truth to others to help them understand the evil nature of the CCP, escape the CCP's control, and choose justice and brightness. That's their compassion for and being responsible for others.
By January 18, 2009