(Minghui.org) An ancient Chinese aphorism tells us that lewdness is the worst sin. A lustful thought may become the impetus for all kinds of indecent thoughts and can lead to a buildup of karma, which in turn leads to misfortune.
Emperor Wenchang, a known Daoist, also said that, “Heaven smites the licentious with the utmost haste. People are unafraid, for they live in ignorance and are unable to discern the connection. Yet, if one indulges in indecency, he or she will be subject to disaster at any time. “
However, in today's materialistic world, material desires run rampant and society is mired in pornography. All of this has severely polluted the younger generations. It is a real pity to see many people lose their positions, ruin their reputations, and destroy their lives due to their obsession with money and women.
Confucius said that a gentleman must exert caution in three areas; one of these three areas is the issue of lust.
“When he is a youth and his blood and spirit have not yet settled down, he must be on his guard lest he falls into lust,” said Confucius.
He reminds men and women in their youth to value their bodies for the sake of their health.
In ancient China, people treated each other with respect and courtesy. They were particularly strict with themselves when it came to interactions between men and women. Even indecent thoughts were considered a sin, as they believed that such a thought would harm both the participants involved and others alike.
The following stories are a few examples of their conduct.
Zhao Zhen, or Renzong of Song, was the fourth emperor of the Song Dynasty. He reigned for 41 years (from 1022-1063), the longest reign among all of the Song Dynasty emperors. He was frugal and forgiving by nature.
One day, imperial remonstrator Wang Su advised Renzong to be wary of lust.
“As a matter of fact, Wang Deyong has indeed provided me with some beautiful ladies, who are already in the palace,” replied the emperor. “I like them very much. Let me keep them.”
“This is exactly the reason why I’m here today. I’m worried that Your Majesty might be bewitched by beauty,” said Wang Su.
Renzong appeared conflicted upon hearing these words. Nonetheless, he ordered the eunuchs to send these young ladies away immediately with three hundred strings of copper each as compensation.
As Renzong gave the order, he could not refrain from shedding tears.
Wang Su was concerned and said to Renzong, “Your Majesty, even if you think my advice makes sense, you do not need to send them away right now. Since they are already here, it might be better to keep them for a while before sending them away.”
“Although I’m an emperor, I have my affections, just as commoners do,” said Renzong. “If I keep them any longer, I would not be able to send them away because of my affections.”
Di Renjie was a renowned chancellor in the Tang Dynasty. At a young age, he was very handsome with a fine complexion. On the way to the capital city to sit for the imperial exam, he stayed at an inn one evening.
He was studying quietly at night when suddenly a young woman came into his room. She turned out to be the widow of the hotel's owner, who passed away not long after they got married. She was impressed by Di’s handsome appearance and came to flirt with him under the excuse of getting some light for her candle.
Although Di saw right through the young widow's intentions, he spoke to her with a friendly air.
“Madam, your fair countenance reminds me of what an old monk told me long ago.”
Out of curiosity, the young widow asked him what the old monk said.
Di told her that, before coming to the capital city, he lived in a temple for his studies. While there, an old monk once gave him a warning about the future.
“You have a commanding appearance and will definitely become a high official in the future. But you must remember not to indulge in sex and commit adultery, lest your future be ruined,” said the monk.
“I have always kept these words in my heart,” Di continued. “It’s admirable that you work hard to keep the business going and have guarded your chastity. Please do not ruin your fine character due to impetuous emotion. Besides, you have elderly parents-in-law and a young son to take care of, who all depend on you. The virtue of women who guard their chastity has always been praised and highly respected since ancient times.”
The young woman was moved to tears after hearing Di’s words.
“Thank you for your gracious guidance,” she said. “From now on, I will stick to the chastity expected of women to repay your most kind advice.”
She left after thanking Di Renjie two more times.
Chen Tao, a poet in the mid to late Tang Dynasty, once went to Hongzhou (in current Jiangxi Province) to escape a war. His friend Yan Zhuan brought him a talented and beautiful young lady for his company.
Chen politely declined by composing a poem on the spot:
When writing this poem with thoughts as clear as water,I am at an old age and my amorous feelings are as thin as drifting clouds;Having already gained a way to ascend to heaven, I am sorry to have to refuse beauty and talent like yours.
One could not help but admire the wisdom and kindness of the ancients. Even when rejecting impropriety, they still remained polite and avoided humiliating others.
Fei Shu was a native of Guangdu in the Song Dynasty. He once went to the capital city Bianliang (currently known as Kaifeng) in 1120. He stayed in an inn when he was approaching Chang’an (now Xi'an). The proprietress greeted him warmly and looked after him very well.
To his surprise, she later came to his room during the night.
“Why are you here at this time?” he asked.
“My father is from Bianliang, and our family specializes in selling silk. I married the owner of this inn, but he has passed away. I feel very lonely, so I’ve come to you, at the risk of losing my honor,” said the young widow.
“I understand your situation,” Fei said. “I’m going to Bianliang, and I will try to find your father and ask him to send someone to take you home.”
Upon hearing these words, the young widow left in shame.
Fei found her father after arriving in Bianliang and told him what had happened.
“I had a dream a few days ago in which my daughter lost her chastity,” the old man said. “She would have been in great danger had she not met you. The divine told me that you are a noble man. I will certainly go and bring my daughter home.”
Sure enough, the old man immediately sent his son to get his daughter. The next year, Fei was very successful in the imperial exam and was granted the rank of a senior official, becoming the prefecture chief of Badong.
Yang Xizhong, courtesy name Jida, was from Xinjin, Shuzhou. He failed the imperial examination once and stayed in a hotel in Chengdu. The proprietress there wanted to sleep with him, but Yang sternly refused and left.
That same night, his wife back home had a dream. In it, a voice said to her: “Your husband has remained upright in his conduct while being away from home and remained faithful to your vows. Heaven is aware of this; he will come first in the next imperial examination as his due reward.”
She woke up but did not understand what her dream meant until her husband arrived back home at the end of the year and told her what happened.
As she was told in the dream, Yang indeed placed first in the imperial examination the following year.
Huang Jingguo served as a judge in Yizhou during the Jiayou era (1056-1063) of the Song Dynasty. One night, in what felt like a dream, he was transported to the netherworld.
“Do you know there has been an incident in Yinzhou?” asked an officer.
The officer then showed Huang a book in which the following was recorded: Doctor Nie Congzhi went to treat a patient in Huating County. The patient’s wife flirted with him and tried to commit adultery. Dr. Nie tried his hardest to keep her away.
The officer then took Huang to a riverside, where Huang saw a prison guard restraining a woman. The guard cut open the woman’s belly, pulled out her insides, and washed them in the river.
A monk standing nearby told Huang, “This woman is the wife of the patient, who tried to commit adultery with the doctor. Nie refused her and was not moved by her beauty. He is a good man, and because of his virtue, his lifespan has been extended by 12 years from 60 to 72, and there will be an official in each of the future generations of the Nie family.”
“As for the woman,” the monk continued, “her lifespan will be reduced by 12 years. Her intestines and stomach are being cleansed to rid of her lustful desires.”
After Huang returned to this world, he told Nie about what he saw in the netherworld. Nie was very surprised to hear this.
“Even my wife doesn’t even know about this incident, and yet it was already recorded in the netherworld,” he said.
As it turned out, Nie indeed enjoyed a long life. Both his son and his grandson were successful candidates in the imperial examination.
There was an old man surnamed Qian in Piling (in today’s Jiangsu Province). He was wealthy and did many good deeds; however, he was still without a son.
A man surnamed Yu in the local area owed money to others and was arrested by the local government. Yu’s wife came to borrow money from Qian to bail out her husband; Qian offered her the money she needed without asking for any repayment.
After Yu was released, he and his wife took their daughter to the old man’s house to express their gratitude. The Qian's wife saw that their daughter was young and beautiful, so she suggested that she marry the old man as a concubine, hoping that she might bear a baby boy for the family.
Yu and his wife were also happy with the idea, but Qian refused, saying, “It’s unkind to take advantage of others’ misfortunes. I helped the Yu family out of kindness. If I now want to marry their daughter, then my conduct would become unrighteous. I would rather be without an heir than take their daughter as a concubine.”
The Yu family was deeply moved upon hearing these words. They thanked the Qian couple again and left.
That night, the old man’s wife saw a divine being in her dream, who said to her: “Your husband helps people and does good deeds. He also shows generosity to the poor and needy, and keeps away from adultery. He has accumulated much virtue with his conduct, and as a result, you will be bestowed a son.”
The next year, the old man’s wife indeed gave birth to a baby boy. When the boy was 18, he became a successful candidate in the imperial examination and later served as a censor in the central government.
A story circulating on the Chinese Internet harkens back to these ancient values.
There was a college student from a poor family, with an average appearance, and average grades. He had a girlfriend in high school, and they kept a long-distance relationship after graduating from college.
One day, his girlfriend came to visit him and wanted to sleep with him, but he restrained himself and refused to engage in premarital intercourse. His girlfriend broke up with him soon afterward.
Later, this college student was hired by a well-known TV station in Shenzhen, a job sought after by many talented young people. It was incredible to many that a person like him, who was average in so many ways, managed to land such a good job so easily.
There is a saying from ancient times: “One can accumulate great virtue by keeping away from licentiousness, and will be rewarded with abundant blessings.”
It might be surprising to everyday people that the young man mentioned above landed a good job so easily, but it is no surprise to practitioners of spiritual cultivation. The underlying reason was that this young man refused to compromise his moral principles by refusing his girlfriend, and for this, he was blessed by the heavens and got a job that many other people wanted.
Sima Guang (1019 – 1086) was a high-ranking scholar-official and historian in the Song Dynasty.
He said in the family motto: “If one accumulates money for future generations, they may not be able to keep it; if one accumulates books for them, they may not be able to read the books; it is better to accumulate virtue so that future generations can be blessed for a long time.”