Abandoning greed and cultivating virtue are the keys to every good person’s growth, but did you know that things can be obtained even when you are not actively pursuing them?
An ancient Chinese text says, “Good people preserve what they have, and do not pursue what they are not supposed to have. If one pursues what they are not supposed to have, then what they do have will disappear. If one cultivates what they have, then what they want will appear naturally.”
This means that a person of fine repute retains their virtue, and does not want what does not belong to them. On the other hand, the greedy will eventually lose what they have, because greed and the pursuit of goods do not bring blessings.
Who violates the law and accepts bribes will lose everything. Instead, if a person is disinterested and does not accept what was not meant for them — for example, if they find a purse with money and return it to its owner – good things will come to them, and they will avoid calamities.
Don’t forget to appreciate and be thankful for what you have every day. So, despite the occasional cloud passing through the sky, you will see that the sun shines brightly upon you every day.
Qunshu Digest, an ancient Chinese book written during the Tang dynasty, recounts a story encompassing the months that spanned from spring to fall during the Warring Kingdoms period. The story narrates how the Prophet Dou Qie clearly saw the importance of abandoning greed.
Dou Qie, an official from the state of Chu, spoke with Zi Chang, who was the ‘lingyin’ of the state. The lingyin was the highest rank an official could reach at that time, and it is equivalent to being a prime minister nowadays.
Zi Chang inquired about the kingdom’s savings and about the horses in its possession. Upon returning home, Dou Qie told his younger brother: “The state of Chu is going to crumble because the lingyin cannot avoid disasters. When I visited him, he asked me about material things while looking like a hungry wolf. I’m afraid that Chu’s state is doomed to collapse.”
He then spoke about Zi Wen, who had been one of Zi Chang’s ancestors. “Zi Wen resigned as lingyin on three occasions. He never had any savings because he took the needs of the people into consideration,” he explained. “Every time King Cheng of the state of Chu offered him a higher salary than what would usually be offered to the lingyin, he refused to accept it. He didn’t return to the office until King Cheng stopped talking about raising his salary.”
Someone asked Zi Wen: “People are chasing after treasures and riches, but you keep away from those things. Why?”
He replied, “Government officials must protect ordinary people. Right now, most people in our kingdom are poor. If I chased after riches, then what I would earn would actually be something that was taken from others. If I did that, then I would suffer. So, I’m doing this to avoid death, not wealth.”
“This is why Ruo’ao’s family line was extinguished during King Zhuang’s reign,” he continued. “However, Zi Wen’s family line persists because they are good officials. Isn’t this because he saw his people as his priority and put his family’s own wealth second?”
However, the situation had changed, Dou Qie continued by saying: “Today, Zi Chang’s reputation (Zi Wen’s descendant and King Chu’s aid) is bad throughout the state of Chu. The whole area is surrounded by walls. People have no food, and many have starved to death. Zi Chang does not care about them and instead accumulates wealth and treasures. People won’t stop complaining about him. The more wealth he accumulates, the deeper the hatred and the greater the complaints! Isn’t Chu’s state is at death ‘s doorstep?”
A year later, the Baiju war broke out between the states of Wuand and Chu. The state of Chu was defeated. Zi Chang escaped to the state of Zheng, and King Zhao escaped to the state of Sui.