Emperor Wendi of the Han Dynasty Stopped Building a Pavilion to Save His People's Money
(Clearwisdom.net) The story entitled, “Emperor Wendi of the Han Dynasty Stopped Building a Pavilion to Save His People's Money” comes from Historical Records: Xiaowen Benji. I have quoted from “Lessons from Imperial History” written by Zhang Juzheng, the Grand Secretary of the Ming Dynasty. This is about how the Han Emperor Wendi cared about his people's wealth and halted the building of a pavilion.
Emperor Wendi wanted to build a pavilion on Mount Li. He first ordered artisans to estimate how much it would cost. The artisans told Wendi they estimated it would cost about 100 units of gold. Wendi said, “That is about the equivalent of the combined wealth of ten middle-class families. The late emperor left me with many palaces and pavilions. I often worried that my lack of merit would tarnish his reputation. How could I think of spending more money and hard labor on building this pavilion?”
Emperor Wendi, whose name was Liu Heng, was a good monarch who took advice from his people. He lived a simple life. During his reign of 23 years, he did not overhaul his palaces. He also tried to slash expenses at the palaces. Historians had this to say regarding Han Emperor Wendi's halting the building of the pavilion: "Wendi was the emperor of the land. He had enormous wealth. And there was a period of peace during his reign. The country was strong, and people prospered. So it would have been nothing to build a pavilion. However, he would not spend even 100 units of gold to do so. He, indeed, shines along with the good emperors in history that people have praised." (Yao, Shrun, and Yu).
According to historical records, during the reign of Emperor Wendi, there were no enhancements to palaces, gardens, clothing, carriages and horses, etc. He would not do anything that was detrimental to the interests of his people. Although Wendi was an emperor, his everyday clothes were made of thick, coarse silk. He even asked his favorite, Lady Shen, not to wear long dresses. His bedding was also very simple and without colorful, embroidered patterns. That's how frugal Wendi was, to set an example for the world.
Wendi also asked that his own tomb be built using only pottery. They were not allowed to use precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, or tin to decorate the tomb. He also asked them not to build tall grave markers, to save as much as possible and not disturb people's lives and farming.
At that time the King of South Vietnam was Weituo, who proclaimed himself Emperor Wudi. The Han emperor, Wendi, did not crusade against him. Instead he summoned Weituo's brothers to the capital, and gave them property and made them rich. As a result, Weituo finally moved, gave up the rank of emperor, and yielded to the Han Dynasty.
During the Han Dynasty, the Huns were still a powerful force. The Han Dynasty had just been established, and everything was in a period of respite. It wasn't suitable for them to send troops to fight. Wendi therefore made peace with the Huns by way of marriage. But the Huns broke the treaty, invaded the Han Dynasty, and committed looting. However, Wendi only ordered his troops to guard the borders and protect the people. He did not send troops to fight in the territory of the Huns, because he considered the possible disaster that a war would mean for his people. One of the feudal lords, the Lord of Wu, Liu Bi, often found excuses to avoid appearing before Wendi. Wendi did not pursue him. Instead he gave Liu Bi some wood and a cane. This was to show his concern for the old lord. He also announced that Liu Bi could avoid the pilgrimage.
Among his ministers, Yuan Ang was always very blunt and sharp when speaking to Wendi. Wendi always accepted his ministers' advice tolerantly. Sometimes he even awarded those who were plain spoken. On one occasion, Minister Zhang Wu and others accepted bribes. When Wendi became aware of this, he took some money from the royal palace and gave it to them. But he did not punish them by sending them to officials. So these people were very ashamed.
When Emperor Wendi reigned, his thought was for the common people, and he was dedicated to ruling with grace instead of through penalties. Under his management, the land was prosperous, people lived peaceful lives, and ceremonies flourished.
Under the current Chinese Communist Party, local government buildings are very luxurious. However, the primary and secondary schools in many areas are very old and even dangerous. The CCP authorities are selfish and extravagant. They have never cared whether people live or die.