Jiao Junming was smart and capable. He became a government official when he was very young to the envy of others. However, he did not receive any promotions for a long period of time after he was given his position. He often complained about his tough career and thought that heaven was unfair because he felt he was not being properly compensated for his efforts. He even wrote an article questioning heaven regarding his fate.
At dusk the day he wrote the article, a piece of white silk with words written on it suddenly fell from the sky onto his desk where he kept his incense burner. Taking a close look, he could not understand what was written on the silk because it was written in heavenly characters.
Jiao Junming heard there was a female who had reached an advanced state of cultivation. He sought her help to decipher the words. She looked at the silk, but spoke not one word about its meaning. When Jiao Junming begged her, she said, “You received a bribe of five liang in gold. Consequently, your lifetime was shortened by ten years. You wrongfully killed a person, and thus you will be punished even after death. Have you made such mistakes?”
Upon being questioned, Jiao Junming was stunned and speechless. Not long after, he died from an acute illness.
Jiao Junming obtained fame as a result of his high scores on the imperial exams and became an official at a young age. Afterward, he became corrupt and took bribes. He did bad things and killed innocent people. His life was shortened by ten years. His sins were so great that even after he died, he would still be punished and go to hell. He did not question or blame himself, instead wanted to further his career.
What a foolish daydreamer Jiao Junming was! Moreover, how shameless that he even questioned the divine!
(Story from Ming Dynasty book Methods of Accumulating Blessing and Removing Misfortune)