Doing Good Deeds Earns a Deity’s Respect
The following three short stories describe situations where actions taken to benefit people impressed the gods.
People That Do Good Deeds Earn a Deity’s Respect
Zhang Guaiya (946 – 1015 AD) was a Chengdu City official. One night he dreamt that a deity summoned him. While they were talking, someone delivered a message to the deity, “Mr. Huang Jianji from the West Gate has arrived.” Then a person wearing Taoist clothes entered the room. The deity immediately greeted him with great respect.
The next morning, Zhang Guaiya dispatched subordinates to invite people named Huang Jianji to his office. When Huang arrived, Zhang realized that this person was exactly the same man he had seen in his dream. He asked Huang, “What good deeds have you done? Why would a deity respect you so much?”
Huang responded, “I haven’t done any really great deed. I just bought wheat at the regular price when it was ripe. I then sold it at the original price to people the following year when the harvest was poor. I sold it for the same price that I bought it. I lost nothing by doing so, but it solved a crisis for other people.” After hearing what Huang Jianji said, Zhang Guaiya sighed. He quickly asked his staff to help Huang to a seat before bowing to him deeply.
“A deity will respect a person who does things to benefit the population. We should widely promote Huang Jianji’s action. When people know that doing good deeds will earn the deities’ respect, more people will follow suit.”
A Selfish Man Is Killed by Thunder; A Kind Man Is Rewarded with a Son
Sun Simiao (581 – 682 AD), one of the most famous doctors in Chinese history, lived during the Tang Dynasty. He devoted his whole life to medicine. He authored many books, including Qian Jin Fang and Qian Jin Yi Fang. These books have been passed down through the generations.
Sun once unintentionally saved the life of a dragon. To repay Sun’s kindness, the dragon offered him a medical prescription used in the Dragon Palace. Sun applied it in his medical practice and it worked very well. Thus, he compiled it into his book, Qian Jin Fang, and engraved it on a stone tablet to pass on to later generations.
At that time, another person heard about this. To reap huge profits, he used his official authority to seize the just-completed tablet. He copied the ancient prescription inscribed on the stone in order to produce and sell it in books. When he was finished, he destroyed the stone. Soon after that, the skies turned dark and a rainstorm began. The selfish man who abused his power was struck and killed by a large burst of lightning.
Later, a kind-hearted person hired the original craftsman with his own money to re-inscribe the prescription on another stone tablet. This is how the precious prescription was passed on to later generations.
One night, this kind man had a dream. Sun Simiao told him in the dream, “Supposedly, you are predestined not to have a son. Because of your good deed, a distinguished son will be bestowed upon you.” Not long after this dream, his wife became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. His son became a magnificent person when he grew up.
The selfish person who crushed the engraved stone only thought of his own self-interest, while the altruistic person who re-inscribed the prescription only thought of others. Ironically, the selfish person ended up with nothing and the kind person unexpectedly benefited from his own good deed.
Eliminating Bad Decrees Without a Trace
During the Xuande Era of the Ming Dynasty (1426 – 1435 AD), many eunuchs were sent to the Indian Ocean to search for precious treasures. An innumerable amount of spending and countless lives were wasted on the trips. During the Tianshun Era (1457 – 1464 AD), someone suggested that the emperor resume the treasure hunt. The emperor thus assigned Chief of the Defense Department, Xiang Zhong (1421 – 1502 AD) to study the past documents regarding the treasure hunt and develop a new plan.
At that time, Liu Daxia (1436 – 1516 AD) was in charge of maintaining documents. When he heard the news, he hid the files from Xiang’s staff. The project was thus suspended because no file was available for reference.
Later, when Xiang Zhong interrogated the file-keepers about the missing treasure hunt files, Liu smiled and said, “Hunting for treasure in the Indian Ocean was a disastrous idea. Even if the files exist today, they should be destroyed to prevent future trouble. Why do you ask for their whereabouts?” Xiang suddenly became clear-headed. Respect for Liu Daxia instantly increased. He apologized, “Your good deed has moved the Heavens. You deserve to have my position!” Indeed, Liu Daxia was later promoted to become the Chief of the Defense Department. His descendents also served as high-ranking officials.
These historical stories are recorded in the Qing Dynasty book written by Zhou Anshi, The Complete Anshi Records.