Blessed for Resisting Lust and Desire
(Minghui.org) Lust and desire can easily confuse a person and damage their physical health. They can also ruin a person's reputation and erase their good fortune. Since ancient times, stories of well-known officials and scholars who exercised self-control to resist immoral behavior and becoming corrupted have been passed on widely.
Jin Mi Di in the Western Han Dynasty behaved properly before the palace maids the emperor gave him as a reward. Chu Yuan in the Liu Song period during the Southern Dynasty was strong and handsome, so Princess Shan Yin arranged for him to sleep near her chamber for ten days. He stood guard respectfully and honorably from evening till dawn no matter how much the princess flirted with him.
The virtuous character of these well-known officials set good examples for later generations. There were many such stories from ancient times. Below are two of them.
Not Taking Advantage of Others
There was a famous doctor called He Cheng during the Xuanhe period of the Northern Song Dynasty. A man named Sun Shiren was sick for a long time. Hearing of He Cheng’s exceptional skill, Sun asked He to treat him.
Sun's wife was young and very pretty. She said to He Cheng in private, “My husband has been sick for a long time and we have sold all our valuables to pay for his care, but he is still no better. We are very grateful that you have come to treat him. Since we have no money to pay you, I'm willing to offer myself to you as a gesture of our gratitude.”
He Cheng replied, “Madame, you shouldn’t say such a thing. Your family is already in dire financial straits and I'm a doctor who treats people to save their lives. How can I possibly take advantage of your situation? I will do my best to cure your husband at no charge. Please respect yourself and do not do anything that brings harm to yourself.” Sun's wife was ashamed of what she’d said and grateful for He Cheng's kindness.
That night, He Cheng had a dream in which he was taken to an impressive government building with a spacious hall. An official said to him, “You have maintained high moral standards in your medical practice. In particular, you did not take advantage of people in difficult situations and did not violate a woman's virtue. Your good conduct has impressed the gods. I have a decree from the Jade Emperor to offer you an official position and a reward of 50,000 coins.”
When He Cheng woke up, he thought it was just a dream. As a rural doctor, how could he possibly be given an official position? So he did not take the dream seriously.
Half a year later, the Crown Prince became ill and none of the palace doctors could help him. Notices seeking skillful doctors were posted everywhere. He Cheng responded to the call and was summoned to the royal palace. He prescribed only two doses of herbal medicine, and the Crown Prince recovered completely. The emperor was very pleased and offered He Cheng an official position and a reward of 50,000 coins. He Cheng then remembered his dream and was amazed to see the scene in his dream become reality.
Maintaining One’s Noble Character
Liu Lishun was from Qi County in the Ming Dynasty. When he was young, he was employed by a local wealthy man as a schoolteacher. As a gesture of his respect, the wealthy man then hired a beautiful young maid to take care of his new teacher’s household. The young maid followed Liu everywhere, taking care of all his needs. At night, she slept in Liu’s bedroom.
Three years passed, and Liu Lishun was about to leave his hometown to take the civil service examination. The wealthy man suggested that Liu take the young maid with him as his concubine as a token of his gratitude.
Liu replied, “I'm very grateful for your kindness in hiring a kind and intelligent young woman to take care of me for three years. Even though we were together day and night, I have never touched her. I'm a scholar and I read the classics. How could I possibly violate ethical behavior by taking a concubine before I get married?” Liu suggested that his employer choose a nice man to be the young maid’s husband.
The wealthy man doubted that Liu was telling him the truth. He thought to himself, “Liu and the young maid spent three years together. People have feelings—how could Liu possibly be completely innocent?”
The wealthy man asked his wife to consult the young maid. The maid replied, “Mr. Liu is very modest and respectable. He never said anything to tease or flirt with me and never did anything improper. Even though sometimes I was really close to him, he showed no improper emotions and never touched me.”
When the wealthy man was convinced that what the maid said was true, he admired Liu as a true gentleman who was not only knowledgeable but also a man of integrity. For three years, he maintained his innocence in the presence of a young lady. It was not something many people could do.
In the seventh year of Emperor Sizong’s reign in the Ming Dynasty, Liu took the imperial exam and was awarded first place. He later achieved great things and became a renowned Confucian scholar. People who knew his story attributed his success to blessings from heaven due to his outstanding character.
Appendix of Yuli BaochaoJueshipian Zhuzheng, compiled by Xia Lun in the Qing Dynasty