In ancient China it was thought that people were duly rewarded for kind thoughts, and punished for evil ones. In fact, everything came down to the moment of that thought.
In Chinese traditional culture, there were many references in the writings of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism that all sages and people of virtue since ancient times regarded honesty and uprightness as the main virtues of conduct.
July 25, 2013 | By Jingyuan
(Minghui.org) There is an ancient Chinese saying, “Every thought of man is known to Heaven and Earth; they will make sure that good is rewarded with good, and evil met with evil.”
As the author understands it, this saying shows that this heavenly principle cannot be hidden nor altered, that the Divine knows everything and differentiates good from evil at all times.
In ancient China it was thought that people were duly rewarded for kind thoughts, and punished for evil ones. In fact, everything came down to the moment of that thought. In Chinese traditional culture, there were many references in the writings of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism that all sages and people of virtue since ancient times regarded honesty and uprightness as the main virtues of conduct.
The author believes that the ancient Chinese had it right all along, and that the principles described herein apply as much today as they did then.
The ancients respected Heaven and Earth and treated other people’s scrutiny seriously in case they would fall short and offend Heaven and Earth by conducting themselves improperly, even unknowingly. They were always careful and maintained a pure and calm mind even when no one else was around, to make sure that they would never do anything against their conscience.
However, there were also people who thought that if they did bad things in secrecy, nobody would know. However, they would never be able to escape punishment for their wrongdoing.
There were many such stories in ancient books. The following is just one of them.
Not Keeping the Money He Found, Shi Xia was Rewarded with Abundant Wealth
During the Jiajing Reign (1522-1566) in the Ming Dynasty, a man called Shi Xia lived in Wujiang town of Jiangsu. He and his wife made a living by growing silkworms and operating two silk-weaving machines.
One day, Shi Xia was on his way back from selling silk at a market, when he found a bag filled with silver coins. He thought: “If the silver belongs to someone who is running a small business like me, then his whole family would be hurt badly and suffer bankruptcy.”
So, he patiently waited for the owner to come to look for his lost silver. He waited for a long time, enduring hunger and fatigue until at last he saw the owner anxiously looking for it.
The owner was a young man. After Shi Xia checked the details, he returned the silver to the owner. The young man was very grateful and insisted on giving Shi Xia half of the silver as a token of gratitude. Shi Xia refused. The young man then tried to give him some fruit and wanted to invite him to a meal. Shi Xia declined it all politely and left without leaving his name.
After he got home, he told his wife about it. His wife said “You did well.” Unlike how many people in today’s society might feel, they didn’t view it as good fortune to have found some silver, and felt peaceful and content that the silver was returned to its owner.
After that, Shi Xia’s business went very well and he earned good profits.
One year, he had trouble getting mulberry tree leaves for the silkworms and was quite concerned. He decided to go with ten other people to cross a nearby lake to get the leaves he needed. It was getting late so they stopped the boat at a small wharf and tried to cook some dinner. Shi Xia went onshore to look for someone’s fire to light his kindling, and happened to come to the house of the young man who lost silver years ago.
The young man’s name was Zhu En. They were very pleased to see each other and had a good chat. Shi Xia told him about the shortage of mulberry tree leaves in his hometown and that they had to cross the lake to get them in Mount Dongting.
Zhu En said, “I have mulberry trees in my garden and they’ve grown exceptionally well lately. There are more than enough leaves for both our families. They seem to have grown for you, my brother. Isn’t it predestined?”
Shi Xia said, “It’s also destined that I’ve come to your house today.” The two men became sworn brothers. Shi Xia had a little boy and Zhu En a little girl, so they also arranged for their future marriage and became in-laws.
Zhu En and his wife were overjoyed and decided to cook some food to entertain Shi Xia and put him up for the night. They were about to kill a chicken, when Shi Xia came back from bringing the kindling to the people on the boat. He immediately stopped them, “I’m very grateful for your kindness, but there is no need to kill a life!”
Later, Zhu En made up a bed for Shi Xia by putting a door across two stools. That night, Shi Xia heard the chickens suddenly making a loud noise. He got up quickly and went outside to take a look. Just then he heard a terribly loud crash inside and something fell heavily on his bed. Zhu En heard the crash too and rushed in to see what had happened. He saw the door smashed into pieces and the stools laying on their sides.
In great shock he said, “The axle hanging above the bed fell! My brother, you didn’t want me to kill the chicken, now they’ve saved your life to repay your grace.”
The next day, Zhu En sent Shi Xia home by boat, carrying the mulberry leaves he needed. Later they learned that the boat Shi Xia was on with ten others, had run into a storm and capsized. There was only one survivor who managed to come back with the terrible news. Shi Xia said to Zhu En, “If you had not kindly provided me for the night, I would have perished as well.” Zhu En said, “It happened because you were rewarded with good for all your good deeds. What has it got to do with me!”
Since that event, Shi Xia and his wife became more philanthropic and tried their best to do good deeds. One of their neighbors was quite wealthy, but was only interested in profits and thus suffered losses year after year. In contrast, Shi Xia, for his kindness and benevolence, accumulated significant assets within ten years and became the richest man in town.
His children and grandchildren were also very virtuous and filial towards elders. All those “coincidences” Shi Xia had encountered were not accidents; they had all been arranged by the Divine.
There is a saying: “A family that accumulates goodness will always have prosperity to spare”. Shi Xia was rewarded with good for doing good deeds; he had his ill luck turned into blessings and ended up having plentiful wealth.
There was a poem to emphasize the point: “It might not seem a big deal to return the money; Heaven already knows his virtues. Good deeds are always rewarded with good, every thought is known to supernatural beings.”