(Minghui.org) Since ancient times, ethical conduct has been important in keeping order in society. By refraining from indulging one’s inappropriate desires, one avoids danger and receives blessings; to do otherwise may lead to destruction.
Below are several examples about how people followed moral principles in ancient times in China, especially with regard to handling relations between men and women appropriately.
King Xuan and Queen Jiang
Queen Jiang was the wife of King Xuan during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC – 256 BC) in China. She was a virtuous person who always obeyed moral principles.
The king once awoke later than usual and did not go to the royal court as early as he usually did. The next day, the queen removed her royal gown and royal headgear, put on a prisoner’s clothing, and knelt outside. She then sent a maid to tell the king, “Because of my lust, your majesty displayed bad manners by arriving late to court. When lust makes a king forget about virtue, it is the beginning of chaos. Because this trouble started with me, please punish me.”
The king, who was a rational man, said, “It is my fault, not yours.” From then on, he always went to the royal court early and worked diligently. Because of that, the country became stronger, and he was recognised an accomplished king in the Zhou Dynasty.
There is a saying that “a good queen brings a nation prosperity, a good wife brings a family happiness, and a good friend brings helpful advice.”
Ban Jieyu and Emperor Cheng
Ban Jieyu (48 BC to 2 AD) was a poet during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). Born in Loufan (in today’s Shanxi Province), she was the daughter of military official Ban Kuang and later served in Emperor Cheng’s court.
Impressed by her beauty and talent, the emperor built a special luxurious carriage and invited Ban to ride in it with him. Ban declined, saying, “Throughout history, well-regarded kings always had talented ministers next to them. Were I to ride in public with you, your behavior would be compared to that of Jie of the Xia Dynasty, Zhou of the Shang Dynasty, and You of the Zhou Dynasty [each one the last in their dynasties]. I would not violate a moral principle by preferring lust over virtue.” The emperor agreed and did not insist that she ride with him.
The emperor’s mother, Wang Zhengjun, praised Ban, saying, “We are lucky to have had Fan Ji in the ancient times and Ban Jieyu in the present.” Fan was the queen of King Zhuang of Chu. Seeing her husband preoccupied with hunting, drinking, and women every day, Fan refused to eat meat and dressed alone under the moon and stars in order to teach the king by example. King Zhuang changed his ways and later became one of the most accomplished kings during the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC – 481 BC).
Despite Ban’s efforts, however, Emperor Cheng indulged in lust in later years, especially with Empress Zhao Feiyan and her sister Zhao Hede. He died in misery and left no heir.
Another example is Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). Early in his reign, he managed the country well with loyal and talented officials. Later, however, he over-trusted treacherous officials such as Li Linfu, while he himself was preoccupied with entertainment and lustful pursuits, which led to the decline of the Tang Dynasty.
Similarly, Chen Shubao, also known as Houzhu of Chen, always indulged in women and song and even invited his court officials to join in. That unrestrained lifestyle eventually led to the end of the Chen Dynasty.
Lao Zi wrote in the Tao Te Ching, “The biggest sin is indulging in lust; the biggest disaster is not being satisfied. The biggest mistake is greed. Therefore, when one knows the limits of desire, he will always be happy.”
Resisting Lucrative Temptations
There is an anecdote in Chinese history about “tricking the nobles with a beacon fire.” King You of Zhou tried and tried to make his queen, Baosi, laugh but was unsuccessful. Then he lit a beacon fire, a signal for all the nobles to gather and fight an invading enemy. When the nobles came, however, there was no enemy, and Baosi laughed at them. This trick was repeated several times, so they no longer trusted the king. Unfortunately, when the enemy really did appear, the nobles ignored the king’s beacon fire, and he was defeated and killed.
Zheng Mao was a dowry maid in the Chu kingdom. One day, King Cheng of Chu went up on a high platform that overlooked the inner palace. All court ladies looked up, hoping to get his attention, except for Zheng, who walked along as usual.
Seeing that she was different from the others, the king was surprised and said, “Hey! The lady who is walking, would you look up at me?”
Zheng did not reply or look up.
“If you look at me once, I will make you a consort (a court lady one level below queen),” the king said.
Zheng still did not look up.
“If you look up at me, I will give you one thousand pieces of gold,” the king went on. “Your father and brothers will also become officials.”
Zheng kept walking and did not look up.
Curious about her, the king came down from the platform and asked Zheng, “Consort is a prestigious position, and your father and brothers could have been important officials. You could have had all that by looking at me. Why did you refuse?”
“Your Majesty, I’ve heard that a woman should have good manners and maintain her dignity. If I looked at you when Your Majesty was standing on the high platform, that would not be dignified. If you tempted me to do so with a title or official rank and I looked up, it would mean I desired fame and wealth. I would be acting against my principles. Had I lost my manners and dignity, what would I have to serve Your Majesty?”
The king praised her for her actions and granted her the title of consort.
Behaving Appropriately with the Opposite Gender
Time passes quickly, and many people nowadays have abandoned traditional moral values. But Falun Dafa practitioners, who follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, are able to live with dignity and purity.
A beautiful young colleague once said to a practitioner named Ding, “Valentine’s Day is coming. Has your wife bought you flowers?”
“No, we have been married for many years, and we don’t do that anymore,” Ding replied.
When the colleague asked, “How about I buy flowers for you?” Ding said, “No, please do not do that.”
Practitioner Geng has many female coworkers as apprentices. One day, a coworker said to him, “You look so cute. Can I kiss you?”
“Don’t talk nonsense here,” Geng replied.
Once, while eating in a restaurant, another female coworker sitting next to Ding grabbed his hand under the table. Ding pulled his hand away and left the table.
Purity and Dignity
Hong is a single mother who has changed rental apartments several times over the years. She tries to do things herself instead of asking male coworkers or male practitioners for help.
From apartment maintenance to simple repair work, she sometimes spent a lot of time researching online and hardly bothers anyone. Once, the shower diverter stopped working, and another time, the bathroom exhaust fan broke. She fixed both of them by herself.
She also spent time helping her daughter with her schoolwork. When the girl lived with her father (the couple were divorced), her grades were near the bottom of the class. A month after Hong started looking after her, her grades were at the top of the class. After a while, her grades were the best in the school.
“Falun Dafa teaches me to live with dignity and purity,” Hong said. “No hardship can stop me from doing that.”
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