Ancient Chinese Stories on Guarding Against Lust (Part 1 of 5)
(Minghui.org) Lust was considered a very serious problem in ancient Chinese culture. For thousands of years, stories and teachings have passed down generation after generation. All three traditional beliefs, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, have strict rules regarding this particular desire.
This is the first part of a selected collection on this topic.
1. Fu Xi Created the System of Rites
In a book written about 2,000 years ago, the author said, “Fu Xi (伏羲) regulated the marriage of a man and a woman. Deer skin was used as a betrothal gift.” Fu Xi is a legendary figure in Chinese mythology and is credited with creating humankind.
In this book, Investigations into Ancient History, the author Qiao Zhou wrote that Fu Xi regulated the union of a man and a woman. Their surnames could be derived from their animals, plants, residence, or official titles. The use of surnames helped prevent an inappropriate marriage or a close marriage with a blood relative.
Qiao was a scholar who lived in the Shu Han area (today's Sichuan Province) during the Three Kingdoms era (about 220 to 280 AD).
Fu Xi's system of rites recognized the differences between a man and a woman, respected Heaven, and followed the law on Earth. The rites contributed to the harmony of Yin and Yang and established solid protocols that survived for many generations in China.
2. The Yellow Emperor Married an Ugly Woman
The "four beauties" in Chinese history are household names, but fewer people know about the other category: the "four ugly women." The most well-known has to be Mo Mu (嫫母), the wife of the Yellow Emperor (黄帝). Many Chinese consider the Yellow Emperor their ancestor and call themselves “children of the Yellow Emperor.”
The Yellow Emperor married Mo Mu for her kindness and virtues. Ancient books recorded his words: “Those who pay attention to a fine appearance instead of virtue are not truly beautiful. Those who value virtues over lust are truly virtuous.” (From the book Lu Shi Chun Qiu)
The book also said, “Mo Mu was appreciated by the Yellow Emperor. He said to her: 'You must not forget to cultivate your virtue. I entrust you with the administration of women in the palace and keep you in my company. What harm is there if you aren't good-looking?'”
In the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine – Basic Questions, it said that people in ancient times followed the movements of Yin and Yang and consumed food and desires in a controlled manner, so that they could keep their mind and body in harmony and live a long life.
The book noted that today's people no longer live that way. They drink wine as if it were water, consider reckless behavior as normal, have sex when they are drunk, drain their body's essence, and deplete their qi.
They do not know how to conserve their energy and vitality. They seek emotional excitement and momentary pleasures. They disregard the natural rhythm of the universe, fail to regulate their lifestyle, diet, or sleep. So it is not surprising that they look old at 50 and die soon after.
3. Xia Jie Was Infatuated with Moxi
Xia Jie (夏桀), the last tyrant ruler of the Xia Dynasty (1728 to 1675 BC), was handsome and strong. He loved alcohol and indulged in lust. He was infatuated with his concubine Moxi and neglected governing the country.
In response to his ministers' reminder that lustful desires for women could subjugate a nation, he replied, “I know that men and women have different roles in commoners' families. Husbands and wives live together as life companions. I'm the king of the nation and I'm enjoying life with Moxi. What's wrong with that?”
He failed to acknowledge the difference between a decent relationship between a man and a woman in family life and a lustful and consuming one.
He was later defeated, exiled to Nanchao, and died there.
4. King Zhou Was Obsessed with Daji
King Shang Zhou (商纣) of the Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1046 BC) was another famous tyrant in China's history. He enjoyed flattery and looked down on sincere advice. He was obsessed with Daji (妲己) and ignored state affairs. He listened only to Daji and was known to be extremely cruel. His vassals kept away and people hated him.
To save the people, King Wu (周武王) of the Zhou Dynasty (1046 to 256 BC) led the vassals against the tyrant. King Shang Zhou was deserted by his people. When he saw that his time was over, he burned himself to death at Lutai (in today's Henan Province).
5. A Gentleman Unaffected by Temptations
Liu Xiahui lived in the Lu State during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 to 476 BC). He was well-known as a gentleman who was able to resist the temptation of lust.
A homeless woman came to seek shelter on a cold winter night. Liu was concerned that she might die from the cold, so he let her sit on his lap, untied his clothes to wrap around her, and held her close to his body. They sat like this throughout the night, and he didn’t do anything improper.
Because of this, he was praised as a true gentleman, and there was a proverb about him: Remain undisturbed even with a woman sitting on his lap.
Here is another story which took place in Lu State: There was a man living by himself whose neighbor was a widow, who also lived by herself. The widow's house collapsed during a storm one night, so she knocked on the man's door seeking shelter.
The man refused to let her in. The woman said, “Why can't you be like Liu Xiahui who warmed a woman who was cold with his body? No one thought he behaved indecently.” The man said, “Liu Xiahui could open his door, but I cannot. I'm following his spirit by not opening the door.”
(To be continued)