Bad Deeds Foretold Ill Fortune; Good Deeds Reversed the Outcome

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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.” 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 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.

A man named Chen Jun lived in Rugao County of Jiangsu during the Jiajing Reign of the Ming Dynasty (1522 – 1566 AD). He was appointed as a teacher in Wangjiang County School in Anhui.

He had a dream on the night of June 11 when he was 39 years old, in which he came to the Jizo Temple south of Rugao County. An official in black clothes took him to the main hall, which was permeated with the smell of incense, with stern-looking servants lined up along the corridor.

Chen Jun knelt down at the bottom of the stairs. He then heard a Bodhisattva announce, “Your family has been loyal and honest for generations, especially your mother, who was pure and chaste, filial to her parents and respectful to deities and Buddhas. You were originally blessed with being a candidate who would successfully pass the first grades of the examination system, and you were also destined to have an opportunity to pass the imperial court examination. However, because you have been up to all kinds of evil and have never done good deeds, your good fortune has long been taken away by the Divine. After your 40th birthday, you will gradually suffer for the sins you have committed. The most unpardonable is that not long ago, someone gave you a book of compassion to pass to others. You were not only disrespectful to the book but also failed to pass it on. You prevented others from taking a path towards goodness. This is most sinful. You will die a sudden death in August. You cannot be spared!”

Chen Jun was deeply disturbed and woke up immediately. He remembered when he went to Jinling for the triennial provincial exam, the son of Huang Rongzeng, a teacher in Anhui, gave him a book that taught people the principle of cause and effect, and asked him to pass it to two candidates who were sharing the same inn with him.

Due to his tight schedule, he didn’t have time to pass the book, took it home, and put it in a box. He had forgotten about it for a long time. Now he remembered, but there was nothing he could do about it. Also, he thought that it was only a dream and it might not be real. However, on the morning of August 16, Chen Jun suddenly felt cold throughout his body and became dizzy. He was sweating heavily. Half conscious, he finally believed that his dream was real.

He thought: Although I’ve committed serious sins, I might be spared if I correct myself. With this thought, he felt a lot better. He got up and wrote a deeply felt plea, in which he expressed his remorse for his wrongdoings and vowed to make a clear break with his past errors. He also pledged that he would distribute books about cause-effect and karma, and asked divine beings to examine his heart.

That night he saw a divine being in his dream, who took him to a grand palace. A divine guard went inside to report Chen’s remorse. A little while later, the guard came out to tell Chen Jun to go back, as if he had been spared death. The divine guard also reminded him, “You must be firm on your pledge and fulfill it with care. Don’t ever be slack!”

The next day after he got up, he felt freshened and gradually recovered from his illness. From then on, Chen Jun encouraged people around him to do good deeds and made great efforts to promote books that teach people the principle of cause and effect.

行恶减禄,迁善消灾

古语云:“人心生一念,天地尽皆知。善恶若无报,乾坤必有私。”向人们昭示善恶有报、如影随形之理,天理难以欺瞒,而神明无时无地不在鉴察善恶。有人因一念的诚善,就暗中蒙神赐福;有人因一念的邪恶,就明显遭天谴罚。其实,善恶只在心念之间而已。在中华传统文化中,关于因果之事儒释道三教皆有经书、典籍可查证,自古的圣贤,都是以不欺为主要的德行,君子敬畏于天地无形与他人之鉴察,深恐善心不坚,在暗室中有亏德行而获罪于天,以致祷求无门,因此谨慎独处时的清净。为人切莫欺心昧己,但也有人以为自己做事非常隐秘,干坏事无人知晓,其实都难逃报应。古籍中记载的因果故事很多,以下一个例子。

明代嘉靖年间,江苏如皋县的陈钧,任职于安徽望江县县学里的教谕(即教授)。他在三十九岁这年,六月十一日这天晚上,梦中来到了如皋县城南门外的地藏王庙,庙中有位黑衣的官吏,引导他进入大殿。他看到殿上香烟缭绕,遮雨的走廊上差役森然罗列。

陈钧俯伏于台阶下。忽然听到一尊菩萨向他宣告说:“你家历代忠厚,尤其你的母亲贞节清净,孝顺父母,敬神礼佛。由此善行,本来庇荫你可以经由明经科考上贡士,而且命中还有一次科甲及第的机会。但是因为你平生作恶多端,毫无善行,早已被神明削去。你四十岁以后,就会慢慢地承受你本身所造的罪报。最不可原谅的是:不久以前,有人送你善书,你既不敬信,又将托你转送的书,隐匿不代送。阻止他人为善的路,其罪尤重。你将在八月暴亡,无法免罪!”

陈钧大为惊惧,立即醒来。回想到自己去年参加金陵的乡试时,有位安徽宣城县教谕黄荣曾的儿子,曾经送他一部善书,托他转送给同寓所的二位考生。由于考期匆忙迫近,来不及转送,就带回望江县,放在书箱里,已经忘了有这回事很久了。到现在才想起来,可是已经无可奈何了。但是,梦中之事,又疑幻似真,不敢确信,为此心中疑信参半。八月十六日早上,陈钧忽然四肢发冷,心神昏乱,汗下如雨,在昏迷中,终于确信以前的梦境非假。

陈钧于是转念想到:自己罪恶虽重,悔改或许可以免祸,如此一想,心地便觉得清爽许多。因此努力持笔写具疏文一通,痛切地自我责备;发誓痛改前非;并发誓立愿送发有关因果报应之类等善书,请神明共鉴。当晚,就梦见一尊神明,引导他来到一座大宫殿前。门外的神明侍者就入内,似乎代为转达悔过之意,过了一会出来,让他回去,好像是可以逃过死罪似的,并且吩咐他说:“所发的愿要坚定,慎重实行,不要怠忽!”陈钧第二天晨起,精神顿时爽快,病体渐渐痊愈。此后便向周围人劝善,大力传播善书并向人讲述因果之理。

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