A Generous, Self-Disciplined Minister of Rites
(Minghui.org) Yang Zhu lived in Wu County, which is located in what is now China's Jiangsu Province. He achieved the position of Minister of Rites in the imperial court of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD -1644 AD).
Yang was known for his impartiality and integrity throughout his career. Stories about his patience, tolerance, and honesty have been passed down for generations.
Yang came from a poor family. His parents passed away when he was a teenager. Like his elder brother, Yang went to Wuchang to join the army and after some time became a teacher.
His friend Yang Shiqi, a very talented but poor man, had to find free room and board over and over again. Out of sympathy, Yang Zhu recommended his friend to the owner of the school for his position. Yang Zhu then took a teaching job in a remote area.
The gravekeeper who watched over Yang Zhu's family graveyard reported to Yang that his ancestral tombstone had been toppled by a kid from the village. This was thought to be a terrible thing, ruining the blessings on current and future generations of the Yang family.
Instead of demanding justice, Yang asked if the child was injured and was told that it was alright. Yang was relieved. He had the gravekeeper tell the child's parents to take good care of the child and forget what he did.
Sold Treasured Donkey
As the Minister of Rites, Yang lived a simple life in the capital. He did not use the sedan chair, but rode a donkey. He was fond of the donkey and rode it to work at the imperial court. He took great care of the donkey and often fed it himself after he returned home from work.
Yang's neighbor had a son in his later years. This son always cried because of the donkey's non-stop braying. He told Yang about the problem. Yang immediately sold his donkey. From then on, he went everywhere on foot.
Not Offended by Others Misdeeds
In his hometown, a neighbor found a way to direct rainfall into his courtyard. When his family complained about it he wrote to them that there were more sunny than rainy days.
This neighbor trespassed by erecting a wall to take over three feet of his family's land. His family asked him to intervene. Yang did not think much about it and wrote to his family,
“Don't quarrel over the spare land. All land belongs to the Emperor. Does it really matter if we yield three feet more?”
The neighbor was greatly moved. Besides giving back the land he moved the wall back into his yard.
Folklore has it that when the neighbors learned that a group of gangsters were planning on robbing the Yang family, they formed a neighborhood vigilante group. This action saved the Yang family from the threat to property and life.
Yang had a dream one night. He strolled in an orchard and picked and ate two low-hanging plums. When he woke up, he was remorseful.
“This was all because of my lack of thorough understanding on righteousness and personal gains,” thought he. “This has resulted in my taking plums from someone else's orchard.”
After that, he set even higher standards for himself, even guarding his thoughts in dreams.