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Two Stories from the Qing Dynasty about Being Accountable for One's Actions

July 12, 2010 |   Rewritten by Zhao Zhen

(Clearwisdom.net) Ji Xiaolan, a gifted man of letters from the Qing Dynasty, recorded many unusual things in his book Notes of Yuewei Cottage. The following are two of his stories.

Heaven Disapproves of Insincere and Cunning People

Feng Shunan from Hejianfu was an intelligent and educated person. However, he was unable to become successful after living in the capital city for over ten years. He seemed to miss every opportunity that came alone. When he asked people for help, they would agree to help him but they never did what they promised. He was frustrated and in financial difficulty. One day he went to a temple and prayed for someone to inspire and guide him.

That night, a celestial being came to Feng Shunan in a dream and said, "Do not blame anyone for the tribulations you've encountered. You have made your own fate and cannot blame anyone. In your previous life, you spoke hypocritically in front of honest and kind seniors to gain their trust. When you came across things that you knew could not be done, you would get others to do them and then take the credit. When villains committed unforgivable crimes, you would defend them repeatedly to make them be thankful to you. Everything you did made you seem a good person and you got all the gratefulness while others got resentment and bitterness. You were too crafty! No matter whether you succeeded or failed, others suffered the consequences. If there was something that slightly inconvenienced you, you would dodge as fast as you could. Even if you could save one's life with a lift of your hand, you would not do so, thinking it was too much trouble. Think about it, when those you think you are close to are in fact aloof from you, when people whom you think care about you are in fact unconcerned about you, you deserve it. What heaven wants from a person is that, if he has done a couple of wrong things, he compensates for them by doing good things. But if a person has an evil mind, heaven and the laws cannot tolerate him. Only when you work hard to do good things will you accumulate good fortune."

After his dream, Feng regretted very much what he had done. He died of an illness shortly thereafter.

Not Doing One's Job Reduces Prosperity

There was an intellectual man in Yin County who was very talented. However he often came across tribulations in his attempts to become a government official. He later got very sick and went into a trance. He dreamed that he went to a government building. After setting out for the building he realized that he was in hell. A man dressed as an official came toward him. He recognized him as long-time acquaintance and asked whether he was dying because of his illness. The official told him, "Your life is not over yet but your prosperity is. You might have to come here soon." The intellectual said, "All my life I taught for a living. I have never done anything evil or against the law. How come my prosperity ends before my life does?" The official sighed, "It is precisely because you are a teacher but have never bothered to teach the children morality. In hell, it is believed that if you get paid and do not do your job, it is the same as burglary or wasting food. Your prosperity must be removed to compensate for the pay that you don't deserve. That is why your prosperity will run out before your life does. Being a teacher is as honorable and noble as being an emperor. A teacher must teach morality, and guide people toward righteousness. You took the tuition but misled your students. You are bound to receive the most severe punishment. If you have the prosperity of a government official, it will be taken away from you. If you do not have the prosperity of an official, the prosperity of getting food will be taken away instead. You must pay for every thing you do. People often see an erudite person or a master of philosophy living in poverty or dying young. They complain that God is being unfair. What they do not know is that they have brought about their own fate and ended up in the circumstance they deserve."

There is an old saying, "There is a divine being three feet above your head." If we think about the two stories in relation to what happens around us, we see that whether we believe it or not, there are consequences for everything. We should face it squarely and be a kind person who follows heaven's rules. This is the most important thing about being human.