You are on page 1of 51

Doctrine of the Twenty Characters

by Ruan Hu Peng
(disciple of Master Hsiao Chang Ming)
Translated by Dr. CHIU PING

Welcome FREE distribution

All religious devotees, be they Buddhists, Christians or Mohammedans, worship the same
Deity. The Christians call Him God, the Mohammedans address Him as Allah and the Buddhists
represent Him to be the Jade Emperor. Ostensibly, therefore, there is a decided difference in name
and in the manner the Deity is portrayed, but in fact there is a marked similarity in other respects,
such as, for instance, in matters of deification and incarnation, in the dedication of attributes of
divinity, in the mode of ascribing praises to the Deity, on occasions of consecration etc., all of
which are substantially the same in all religions. In short, the Christian God, the Mohammedan
Allah and the Buddhist Jade Emperor are one and the same Supreme Being; for they all refer to
the same Deity; and whatever difference there is, consists only in the diverse ways adopted by the
different religions of designating a name for Him.
Despite the fact that each religion has its own tenets and rites, nevertheless, the ultimate aim of
all religions is to lead people to do good and to shun vice. The Confucians talk of loyalty and
altruism, the Buddhists believe in mercifulness and world salvation, the Taoists' idea of the purity
of the soul, the Christians' teaching of repentance and salvation of the soul, and the
Mohammedans' conception of purity and genuineness - all of these conspire to constrain people to
do good and to eschew evil which is the ultimate aim of all religions.
In as much as all the religions of the world possess factors that are common to all and an aim
that is shared by all alike, as discoursed in the above paragraphs, the natural tendency will be that
the ultimate development of the various religions will be proceeding toward such uniformity and
unanimity as not to exclude the possibility of an amalgamation. This tendency was foreseen fifty
years ago by Hsiao Chang Ming, a Taoist leader of note and founder of the Theosophical and
Philosophical Society of China who, in order to accelerate the process of bringing into existence
the trend toward which all the religions of the world are traveling, established the "Association
for the Promotion of Religious Cosmopolitanism". By collecting and assembling the best
elements and tenets from the various religions of the world, the founder of the Association
crystallized the materials so collected and embodied them in a code, a rule of conduct, with a
view to expediting the pace toward religious cosmopolitanism toward which all the religions of
the world are traversing.
Because of his tenacity of purpose, the founder succeeded, after profound studies and
researches, in forming a code of conduct which was derived primarily from the Confucian
doctrine of loyalty and altruism, the Buddhist idea of cause and effect, the Taoist concept of
induction, the Christian teaching of universal love and the Mohammedan dogma of the Five
Principles. With these the founder elaborated and molded into a set of rules which he called
"Doctrine of the Twenty Characters" which are as follows:
ZHONG (Loyalty), SHU (Altruism), LIAN (Integrity), MING (Straightforwardness), DER

(Magnanimity), ZHENG (Uprightness), YI (Righteousness), XIN (Trustworthiness), YEN

(Forbearance), GONG (Impartiality), BO (Universal Brotherhood), XIAO (Filial Piety), REN
(Benevolence), CI (Mercifulness), JUE (Comprehension), JIE (Temperance), JIAN (Frugality),
ZHEN (Genuineness), LI (Propriety), HER (Harmony).
The motive that prompted the author of the Twenty Characters (or words) to spare no effort to
formulate a new doctrine could be attributed to his determination to ameliorate social conditions
and reform social morality both of which have fallen into the extreme of decadence, to imbue the
minds of youth with sound principles, to administer consolation and relief to those of the afflicted
who need them, and generally to make the world worth living in. In order to accomplish such
aims, the initial step to be taken is to start with the individual. By using the Twenty Characters as
a fundamental creed, the author hoped that people would be guided into the right path of
acquiring the knowledge of how to be a man and how to behave in a becoming manner, the
manner that constitutes the indispensable elements of a gentleman. By thus improving the
individual physically, mentally and morally, the harmony of a loving family would be assured;
the country, being ruled by men superior in both virtue and ability, would be well governed; and
universal peace and order would ensue therefrom.
What has been said above suffices to lead one to the conclusion that if the Twenty Characters
are put into practice, then, as between man and man, there will be no more quarreling and
fighting; and as between nation and nation, war will pass into history and will soon be buried in
oblivion. Under such auspicious circumstances, everybody will be able to live in peace and enjoy
the fruits of his labor. Civil order, also, will be preserved permanently in society, and
cosmopolitanism and universal peace will reign throughout the world. Then, the whole of
mankind will be blessed with real felicity and happiness, a paradise on earth.
Dr. Vermier Y. Chiu, Ph.D., D.C.L., LL.B.,
M.A., Ph.B. Of Inner Temple (London),

The Author's Preface To The Original Edition

Tao is the path, indeed the boulevard, by which mankind has marched to civilization, and the
right track along which the Universe is traversing and evolving. It was this Tao that formed the
Universe, and if the Universe is ever going to be destroyed, it is also this Tao that will destroy it.
By following this Tao or Way, Heaven and Earth will be in their right positions; all matters and
creatures will live and grow; the four seasons will be in their proper orders and all departments of
government will function successfully. If, however, this Tao is disregarded, the result will be just
the opposite. Therefore, the destinies of all things, from the biggest heavenly bodies to the
smallest particles, and from the wisest sage to the most ignorant dupe, are all governed by this
However, most mortals have often been too foolish and ignorant to understand the truth of this
Tao, and in giving vent to their lusts and selfish desires they head against this Tao. They began
with plotting and conspiring and ended with killing and massacre, all just for worldly power. In
the midst of this medley of sins and crimes, there occasionally came a sage who, with untiring
efforts and truthful to his high ideals, established tenets that would provide for the most urgent
needs of the time, and by propagating them, succeeded in bringing back the world to order. This
he called his Religion. These sages made their appearance whenever confusion and war prevailed.
For instance, Confucius, who wrote his famous chronicle "Spring and Autumn", and Lao-tzu,
who founded the Taoist Religion, made their appearances in troubled times; Buddha emerged at
the time when religious contentions prevailed in India; Jesus appeared when the Roman Empire
was in turmoil; and Mohammed rose to prominence when his country was invaded by her
enemies. What they all said and did in their respective time, they said and did with one and only
one aim, namely, that of saving and reforming their people. That this was so, is because the Tao is
but the truth, and the truth, irrespective of time, place, race or language, is the same all over the
Now that the world is again in chaos, that men and women give vent to their lusts and selfish
desires, and that there seems no end of this sinful torrent, it is once again a time when sages
propagate their religions and theologians strive to save our times. But, alas, bigotry gets the better
of open-mindedness and apostles of the various creeds and religions forget that their fundamental
mission is to save and reform the world with the result that they attack one another in a desperate
struggle to gain supremacy for their own creeds and religions. Could there be anything more
lamentable than that?
Prompted by my resolution to remedy this deplorable situation, I set to work to assemble the
best tenets from the various religions and crystallized them into a creed - a rule of conduct which
I called "Doctrine of the Twenty Characters" which are as follows:
ZHONG (Loyalty), SHU (Altruism), LIAN (Integrity), MING (Straightforwardness), DER

(Magnanimity), ZHENG (Uprightness), YI (Righteousness), XIN (Trustworthiness), YEN

(Forbearance), GONG (Impartiality), BO (Universal Brotherhood), XIAO (Filial Piety), REN
(Benevolence), CI (Mercifulness), JUE (Comprehension), JIE (Temperance), JIAN (Frugality),
ZHEN (Genuineness), LI (Propriety), HER (Harmony).
I have decided to put this Doctrine of ours into execution with my followers, hoping to convert
bigotry into cooperation and to turn contentions and attacks against one another into saving
others. Then, there will be no sufferings and no sins in this world, and a paradise on earth and
universal happiness will be in store for every one of us. What can I wish more?
True followers of the Doctrine will receive the following ten benefits:

They will be protected by Buddha and be free from all harm and danger.
They will be pardoned for their sins and crimes.
They will have no fear of being avenged.
They will be kept away from the molestation of bad spirits, devils, poisonous snakes and
ravenous beasts.
They will always enjoy peace and tranquillity and will never suffer from fear, sorrow or
They will enjoy the harmony of a loving family with their children and grandchildren,
abound in prosperity and unlimited blessings.
They will be admired and revered by the public.
If they are ignorant, they will become wise; if they are in danger, they will be rescued and
put in safety.
They will gain blessings not only for themselves but also for their relatives, friends and
They will be rewarded with Nirvana (a Buddhistic paradise) after their death and earn
extinction of their individuality and absorption thereof into the Supreme Spirit of Buddha.

In view of the fact that the Doctrine gives so many benefits to those who follow it to the letter,
it is advisable that the Twenty Characters be recited during the following occasions:

Asking for longevity.

Praying for more blessings.
Praying to be kept away from harm and danger.
Doing penance.
Saving lost souls.

Those who find actual beneficial effects after doing the recitation are requested to report to the
Association which will record the miracle in the Book of Proofs.

Written by Hsiao Chang Ming

in the Religion and Philosophy Research Society of Hunan Province
in 1932 Winter
Translated by Dr. Vermier Y. Chiu
in the Religion and Philosophy Research Society of Hong Kong
Edited by Jim Hollander Texas, USA

The Twenty Characters Succinctly Discoursed

(1) ZHONG (Loyalty)
(2) SHU (Altruism)

(20) HER (Harmony)

(3) LIAN (Integrity)

(19) LI (Propriety)

(4) MING (Straightforwardness)

(18) ZHEN (Genuineness)

(5) DER (Magnanimity)

(17) JIAN (Frugality)

(6) ZHENG (Uprightness)

(16) JIE (Temperance)

(7) YI (Righteousness)

(15) JUE (Comprehension)

(8) XIN (Trustworthiness)

(14) CI (Mercifulness)

(9) YEN (Forbearance)

(13) REN (Benevolence)

(10) GONG (Impartiality)

(12) XIAO (Filial Piety)

(11) BO (Universal Brotherhood)

ZHONG (Loyalty)
What does the character Zhong mean? It means the faithful performance of one's duty. For
instance, if I were asked to do a certain thing for someone and I had promised to do it for him,
then it would be my duty to try my very best to see to it that this certain thing be properly done,
no matter what it was and how difficult it would be; and once I had tried my best, it could be said
that I had done my duty, though I might fail in my attempt.
When we are enjoying a play in the theatre, and we see such historical characters as Guan Yu
() and Yue Fei (), we cannot help calling them Zhong. This is because both of them had
laid down their lives in performing their duties. In short, Zhong is the faithful fulfillment of one's
duty which does not necessarily imply one's duty only to the country or to the king.
Let's take a look at how the character Zhong () is built. The top sub-character means center
(), the bottom has a meaning of heart (). When the heart is placed in the center, then can be
said is Zhong (). Thereby, Zhong means 'To do your utmost to keep your heart unbiased'
upon making a decision.
Back to the top

SHU (Altruism)

The character Shu is made up of two other characters; one meaning likeness (), the other,
heart (). This implies that all human hearts are alike. Things that are liked or disliked by your
hearts must also be liked or disliked by the hearts of others. So, if you only care for what you like
or dislike and never take into consideration the feeling of others, then it is against the rule of Shu,
which means altruism. The golden rule of Shu or altruism is that if there were any good
opportunity of which you would like to avail yourself, do not be greedy and grapple all for
yourself, but share it with others; and if there were any danger which you wish to avoid, do not
beguile others into it, but try to help and warn them out of it.
Back to the top

LIAN (Integrity)
We have often heard the slogan "Down with all corrupt officials". Now, what are corrupt
officials, and why should they be downed? A thorough understanding of the meaning of the
character Lian will explain everything. The character Lian means the non-acceptance of bribery
or other forms of venality, and corrupt officials are officials who are covetous of gain and who
accept bribery. So, corrupt officials are persons acting against Lian and those who act against the
rule of Lian are only fit to be downed by the people. However, not only officials should act
according to Lian but people of all walks of life also, should be likewise. If I were hired at 50
cents a day, then 50 cents should be the maximum amount I could take without violating the rule
of Lian. Anything beyond 50 cents would be deemed to be ill-gotten gains.
Back to the top

MING (Straightforwardness)
Ming means Brightness or Light. That is to say, we must do everything openly and in the light.
We must see to it that everything we do can be told to the public, to our conscience and to God
without the slightest inward qualm. This is what we call Ming. Now let us quote two old sayings:
"Let there be nothing done by us that cannot be told to others" and "Do no wrong and you will not
be frightened at the mere sound of door knocking at midnight". Such is the benefit derived from
practicing Ming. However, there are persons who are fond of doing immoral things in the dark
and behind others' back. Such persons are constantly in fear of their wicked deeds being detected
and made open to the public; and when such time comes, they will either be overcome with
shame and commit suicide or turn desperate and act against the law. Only people who practice
Ming can live in tranquility and peace.
Back to the top

DER (Magnanimity)
Der is an act of benevolence done to others. Hence we say that the continual doing acts of
benevolence is the accumulation of Der. If a person has done us an act of benevolence, we will
say that he has Der over us.
Persons who are physically and mentally disabled cannot earn their own living but must
depend upon charity or acts of benevolence, without which they will die of hunger. To stand by
and let such people die without doing acts of benevolence to save them is against the wish of God
who is magnanimous, merciful and always ready to help. On the other hand, to save such people
from dying of starvation is precisely the wish of God. Blessed are those who act according to the
wish of God.
Back to the top

ZHENG (Uprightness)
That which is not unbalanced and not one-sided is Zheng. All things that are Zheng must be
good. A table that is not Zheng is not fit to put things on. A chair that is not Zheng is not fit to sit
on. A bed that is not Zheng is not fit to sleep on. And a road that is not Zheng is not fit to walk
on. Thus everything that is not Zheng is of no or little use. Now, the human mind, the origin of all
things, must also be Zheng before it can render good services to the world. Only an upright or
Zheng mind is capable of performing an upright or Zheng deed. Society admires only upright
persons and approves only upright deeds.
Therefore if we wish to earn the admiration of society, we must try to be upright persons and
do upright things. However, we must first of all see to it that our minds are Zheng or upright.
Back to the top

YI (Righteousness)
To uphold righteousness is Yi. In as much as all men are created equal, it is neither right nor
fair for those who are better off than others to bully others. However, the world is full of such
unfairness. The weak and the poor are constantly subjected to the oppression of the strong and the
To see to it that such unfairness be stopped is what we call Yi. Thus a man who voluntarily
offers to fight for another to uphold righteousness is called a gentlemen of Yi and an expedition
that is aimed at relieving people's sufferings is called an army of Yi.

Back to the top

XIN (Trustworthiness)
The meaning of the character Xin is apparent to everybody. All know the necessity of being
truthful and trustworthy and the futility of lying and deceiving. Yet men go on lying and
deceiving just the same. How is that? It is because most people are foolish enough to think that by
lying and deceiving they can attain their selfish ends. They forget that no lying and deceiving acts
can long remain undiscovered, and that once they are discovered, they will lose the confidence of
the whole community. Men who have lost the confidence of the whole community are bound to
be failures in everything. This proves how foolish and futile it is to lie and deceive. Hence
trustworthiness is the best policy.
Back to the top

YEN (Forbearance)
The character Yen has two diametrically different meanings. One tells the beautiful side of
human nature which is forbearance and fortitude; the other, the ugly side of it which is cruelty
and hardness of heart. What causes this dual meaning? This is because the character Yen is made
up of two characters, one meaning sword () and the other heart (), with the former on the top
of the latter. This signifies the suppression of the heart's impulses by the sword. As one's impulses
can be either good or bad, so the suppression can produce either good or bad effect. For instance,
if a good impulse were suppressed, the effect produced would be bound to be bad and vice versa.
We are concerned here only with the good effect produced; that is, forbearance and fortitude. It is
hoped that whenever we come across the character Yen, we will use our best efforts to bring to
the fore the beautiful side of our heart i.e. forbearance and fortitude and suppress its ugly side
which is cruelty and hard-heartedness.
Back to the top

GONG (Impartiality)
Selfishness is the root of all evil and the cause of all the world's chaos. Government officials
practice corruption and accept bribes because they desire to enrich themselves. Generals rebel
against their government and stir up internal strife because of their lust for power. Rulers become
despots because they yield to their lust for pleasure. And nations resort to aggressive violence

because they want to enlarge their territories at the expense of other countries. All these and
hundreds of other evils are the natural outcome of selfishness. The opposite of selfishness is
Gong, which is a champion for public welfare. There are two ways to achieve Gong, i.e., passive
and active. To do nothing that is detrimental to the welfare of the public is the passive way of
attaining Gong, and to devote one's time wholly to the promotion of public welfare is the active
way to gain Gong. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen said: "If you are gifted with the wisdom of a hundred persons,
you must promote the welfare of a hundred persons. If you are blessed with the wisdom of a
thousand persons, you must promote the welfare of a thousand persons, and so on". This is an
example of the noblest spirit of active Gong. If we are unable to adopt the active way of Gong, we
must at least take the passive way.
Back to the top

BO (Universal Brotherhood)
Bo means bigness. That is to say, no matter what we do, we must always aim big. Take, for
instance, the matter of the acquirement of knowledge. We must see to it that we are wise enough
to have a perfect understanding of the universe and the truth about life, and that we possess a
wisdom as great as that of Buddha. With regard to our magnanimity, we must see to it that it is
equal to that of any big man the world has produced. Ordinary people, because of their limited
knowledge, always aim small. For that reason they love only their parents, brothers and sisters,
wives and children. Others they treat indifferently. This is contrary to the spirit of Bo. Jesus,
Confucius and Buddha did not limit their affection to their own kindreds. The first talked about
universal love, the second about kindness to the people and to the other creatures, and the last
about mercy to all. They won the admiration and respect of the masses and left behind an
immortal example to all posterity because they always aimed big. So, if we hope to become sages,
we must also pay attention to Bo.
Back to the top

XIAO (Filial Piety)

It is but right that filial piety should be practiced. Everyone understands well what filial piety
means. But for the sake of those materialists who are too selfish to understand it, let us explain it
more fully here. Filial piety is the foundation of all virtues. A man who does not practice filial
piety does not also live up according to other virtues. How can we expect a man to repay for the
kindness his benefactor has done to him when he maltreats his parents who are his greatest
benefactors? How can we expect a man, who does not love his own parents, to love his fellowmen who are mere strangers to him? Therefore, in order to be true to other virtues, one has first to

be true to filial piety. According to Confucius's Book on Filial Piety, and the History of the
Twenty Four Filial Sons, filial piety is but obedience to one's parents. That is why we always
connect the word obedience with the word filial piety.
Back to the top

REN (Benevolence)
Ren is most difficult to explain. According to the explanations given by various scholars, it has
various meanings. The most plausible one is as follows: The sub-characters that from the
character Ren literally mean Two () and Persons (). As seen through the eyes of an
individual, the world is represented by two persons; one being one's self and the other, the rest of
the world. In this sense, any man, no matter how wicked he is, can at least love one person, that is
himself. Now, if a man can love the other person, who represents the rest of the world, besides
himself, he may thus be called a man of Ren. There yet is another explanation of the character
Ren, which though not so plausible as the former one, is nevertheless worth remembering. It says
that the character Ren and the characters meaning good conscience are synonymous.
Back to the top

CI (Mercifulness)
We have often heard of the combined characters of Ci Shan (charitable), Ci Bei
(merciful) and Ci Mu (kind mother). Now, what does the character Ci really mean? Let us
inquire into how the character is built up. It is composed of two other characters meaning life ()
and heart (). So, a man of Ci is a man whose heart inclines to save others' lives. We must
always try to save others' lives and must not for a moment think of killing a living thing, not even
an insect. Men who are devoid of Ci will deliberately kill an animal just to satisfy their appetite.
Nay, they will even kill a human being if they think that the killing will give them wealth and
power. Such persons are certain to be punished for their crimes. A man who has suffered a slight
injury inflicted by you even meditates revenge on you. What more he will do to you if you kill
Back to the top

JUE (Comprehension)

Jue or Jue-Wu () means to awake from and to comprehend. Therefore, a man may be said
to be Jue-Wu if he awakes from the wrong he has committed and comprehends the truth which he
has just discovered and which he has hitherto never known. However, a genuine Jue-Wu must be
self-acting and real and not passive and obscure. The greatest Jue-Wu one can possibly have is
the comprehension of the truth about life; for without life nothing else will really matter. What do
we care who is right and who is wrong if we ourselves are no longer in this world? If we have a
perfect understanding of such vital problems as "For what purpose were we born" and "What will
we get after we have slaved ourselves to death," then, we may truly be said to have comprehended
the truth about life which Buddha had comprehended more than two thousand years ago. Though
we may be unable to attain as good a power of comprehension as Buddha, let us hope that we can
get near to it.
Back to the top

JIE (Temperance)
Jie means due limitation. Knots on bamboo trees are called Jie. This is because the knots set
limits to the length of a particular part of the bamboo tree lying between the two knots. To the
activities of men, due limits must also be set and the limits so set are also called Jie or rather ChiJie (). For example, officials must see to it that they will only work under a good and clean
government and for the benefit of the people. This is the limit that an official must set to his
activities. If, however, officials should disregard this limit and work under any corrupt
government, then they would be regarded as men without Chi-Jie. Again, in earning our living,
we must see to it that we will do nothing that is degenerating. Men, who would sacrifice their
reputation just for the sake of a living, would also be regarded as men without Chi-Jie. The
characters Jie () and Chi () are ever connected together. Men without Jie are also men
without Chi which means life. What is the use of a man without life? Therefore, we must pay
attention to Jie.
Back to the top

JIAN (Frugality)
Jian has something to do with the word "Contract", to contract or reduce the scope of the
squandering of money and the waste of energy or time is to be frugal of money, energy or time.
Frugality helps one to save up, and with a lot of savings, one can do great things. This is said with
a view to the rules of economy. Morally speaking, frugality helps to promote honesty. This is
because those who do not squander money recklessly do not have to seize money recklessly.
Again, frugality helps to get rid of bad habits which include gambling and drinking. However, we

must not let our frugality go to extremes, for then it will turn into parsimony.
Back to the top

ZHEN (Genuineness)
When we make our purchases or exchange our paper money for small coins, we always try to
find out whether the goods or the coins are genuine. If genuine, we take them; if not, we reject
them. Thus we see that we like only what is genuine and dislike what is false. So, it is better for
those who sell goods to sell only genuine goods, and for those who use coins to use only genuine
coins. If, however, men are found selling false goods or using counterfeit coins, they will be
despised or even prosecuted. Now, a coin is only a trifling thing, yet if we try to use a counterfeit
one, we will offend others. So much more, if we try to give others a piece of our heart which is
not genuine. Therefore, we must see to it that our hearts are genuine. Only in a genuine heart can
genuine truth be found.
Back to the top

LI (Propriety)
Li or propriety, like the law of a nation or the regulations of an organization, is a set of rules
whereby social order is maintained. The only difference is that, while the laws of a nation can
only restrain people from crimes and trespasses and persuade them to keep order outwardly, Li or
propriety can restrain them from crimes and trespasses and persuade them to keep order inwardly.
Therefore, in the matter of keeping social order, Li is more efficient than laws. For according to
propriety, we must respect our elders and superiors, say nothing that is not upright and truthful,
and keep the right place as to where we should be when sitting in the room or where we should be
when walking in the street, none of which is provided by the law. If we neglect these things, we
will be laughed and sneered at, and looked upon as savages. These are only the small things
pertaining to propriety. The most important ones are the ethical rules governing the relations
between parents and sons, and between parents and daughters, and between husbands and wives.
If these are neglected, the world will be turned into a wilderness and men into wild beasts.
Back to the top

HER (Harmony)
Her means Her-Ping () which again means to comport ourselves in a manner that is

neither too vehement nor too weak and cowardly. There are people who are too headstrong and
always go to extremes when doing things. They are bound to meet failures and reverses. And
there are others who behave themselves too cowardly and weakly. They are bound to invite
insults and maltreatment from others. The best way to conduct ourselves to be Her-Ping, a
comportment that is neither too aggressive nor too inert. The ancients said: "A harmonious spirit
brings many blessings in its train" and "A family, where there is plenty of harmony, will rise to
prominence." Now, let us recollect the happy days we have spent every Spring when the weather
is neither too warm nor too cold and when the wind is mild and soothing. We call this kind of
wind Her and this kind of weather Wen-Her (). It is these mild and soothing wind and
temperate weather that make everything grow in profusion.
Back to the top

Doctrine of the Twenty Characters

ZHONG (Loyalty)
SHU (Altruism)
LIAN (Integrity)
MING (Straightforwardness)
DER (Magnanimity)
ZHENG (Uprightness)
YI (Righteousness)
XIN (Trustworthiness)
YEN (Forbearance)
GONG (Impartiality)
BO (Universal Brotherhood)
XIAO (Filial Piety)
REN (Benevolence)
CI (Mercifulness)
JUE (Comprehension)
JIE (Temperance)
JIAN (Frugality)
ZHEN (Genuineness)
LI (Propriety)
HER (Harmony)

ZHONG (Loyalty)
The character Zhong, which means faithfulness or loyalty, is made up of two other characters,
one meaning middle and the other heart. This implies that the hearts always stands in the middle
and that there can never be two in one human chest (A). If, for instance, in transacting business
for others, one has exhausted the strength of his heart (B), then he will not be ashamed to face his
own shadow when he is alone, or his own beddings when he sleeps alone, or his God when the
great beyond calls him. To perform one's duty attentively, cautiously and untiringly, never caring
for a while whether it will cost him his life, is the true color of a person having Zhong.

A. Without any knowledge of anatomy, the ancient Chinese believed the heart was situated at
the center of the chest.
B. Confucian Analects Book 1. Chap. 1:
"Whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful."
Having been imprisoned in the capital for three years, Wen Tien-Hsiang was one day
summoned to appear before the great Khan of the Yuan Dynasty who said to him: "If you can
only serve me as you have served the Emperors of the Sung Dynasty, I will make you my prime
"No", replied Wen, "My Emperor has treated me so well that the only thing I can do is to be
faithful to him unto death. I will never serve two masters. Please give me death."
Thereupon he was led to the market place of "Chai". Before the execution, he said calmly to his
executioner, "I have done my duty", and, facing the South, he made a low obeisance.
An edict came to stop the execution, but it was too late.
After he had been executed, it was found in his belt a paper on which it was written:
"Confucius warned us not to sacrifice our virtue to preserve our lives, and Mencius advised us
to give up our lives when righteousness demands. When righteousness has been followed to the
utmost, virtue will come to you. Now, what have we learned from the books of sages?
Henceforth, I have nothing to be ashamed of."
Wang Kwei, a servant of Li Tung, land reclamation commissioner, was summoned to join the
royal guards.
Later, Commissioner Li was arrested and imprisoned on a charge of smuggling arms and
ammunitions. To avoid implications, all his relatives and friends deserted him.
Wang Kwei, however, rushed to the prison where, for 40 days and nights, he faithfully served
his former master.
The Commissioner was finally degraded to the rank of Vice-Magistrate of Enchow, while his
two sons were exiled from the country.
On the day of his departure, the faithful servant with tearful eyes followed his master until he
was stopped. Filled with sorrow, he exclaimed, "I can't help following him. He is my master."
A few days later, the Commissioner died, and Wang left for an unknown destination after he
had buried his master according to propriety.

Liu An-shih rejected the appointment as censor.

Explaining the matter to his aged mother, Liu said, "As a censor, I would feel it incumbent
upon me to fearlessly conduct impeachments against corrupt officials which, I believe, would
arouse hatred among the malcontents. To avoid danger, I deem it advisable to reject the
appointment on pretense of ill health."
"Since a censor is the right-hand man of His Majesty, your father has been striving for that post
all his life, and now that you are fortunate enough to be given that position, you should dedicate
your life to serve your country faithfully without fear or favor", the mother replied indignantly.
Following his mother's advice, Liu assumed the post as censor. He fearlessly impeached
corrupt officials and even the misbehavior of His Majesty the King to whom he showed neither
fear nor favor.
He was then regarded as the "tiger of the palace".
Toward the end of the Sung Dynasty, there lived in Huaiyang a sing-song girl named Mao Hsihsi whose loyalty was given great prominence in Chinese fiction.
The loyalty of the sing-song girl was depicted in contrast with the betrayal of Li Chuan,
commander of the Sung army.
Li Chuan joined the invading forces of Chin and turned against his own men. With the
assistance of the enemy troops, Li scored a great victory. Rejoicing at his success, Li gave a
banquet to celebrate the victory and asked Hsi-hsi to sing her best songs. Hsi-hsi, however
frowned upon the request.
"You have always been willing to sing for me. It's strange that you refuse to do so today for the
first time", Li asked Hsi-hsi angrily.
"You have been entrusted by the entire nation to defend the country. Now you have betrayed
your fellow countrymen and joined the enemy. You are our implacable enemy. I will never sing
for an enemy though I am a sing-song girl", was the stern reply given by the loyal sing-song girl.
Furious with anger, Li ordered Hsi-hsi to be executed.
Back to the top

SHU (Altruism)
The character Shu means to be considerate of others. "Treat all the meritorious deeds of others
as if they were done by you, and never for a moment try to shift to others a blame that should be
borne by you" (A) is the keynote of Shu. We should never try to pick a person to pieces, or force
him to do anything which, we know very well, he could not do. Instead, we should lay emphasis
upon his good points and overlook his weak side and give him a chance to show his worth. Then
who would not admire and respect us?

A. Confucian Analects:
"Do not to others what you would not wish done to yourself."
Liu Kuan was an important government official who never lost his temper even in great haste.
Now Mrs. Liu worked out a comprehensive plan to test the virtue of her husband.
One day when Liu was all dressed to enter the palace, one of his maids, upon the instructions
of her mistress, brought in a dish of hot soup and purposely spilled it over his fine dress.
Undisturbed, Liu asked the maid, "Did you hurt yourself?"
It was in the dead of night as Han Wei-kung, Governor of Tingwu, was writing letters when his
guard, who was holding a candle for him, carelessly dropped it and burned the governor's long
Undisturbed, Han went on writing after having extinguished the fire in his beard. As he turned
around, he found that the careless guard had already been replaced by another man.
Fearing that the guard might be whipped by the chief inspector, Han ordered the guard to return
to his post, pointing out that he had already learned how to hold a candle now.
Mrs. Cheng was a strict mother but she was a kind mistress. She never forgot to ask her
husband to punish her two sons if they made any mistake, be it serious or slight. She often said to
others that it was the mother's fault if the father was unable to find out the mistakes of his sons.
Mrs. Cheng, however, had never spoken unkindly to the concubines of her husband nor had she
ever whipped or even reprimanded her servants.
The two sons later became noted scholars.
Chow Ying was always kind to her step sister-in-law who was maltreated by her (Ying's) cruel
Whenever her step sister-in-law was unable to obtain food and water from her step mother-inlaw, Ying would give up her own meal and let her step sister-in-law have it. She would always

help in the hard work allotted to her step sister-in-law by her unkind mother. Whenever her step
sister-in-law did anything wrong, she would confess to her mother that it was her own doing. And
if her step sister-in-law received beatings from her mother, she would kneel down before her
mother asking, "Would you like to see your daughter being beaten by her mother-in-law?"
Later Ying married and had a son. While on a visit to her mother, Ying happened to place her
little son on a bed in her step sister-in-law's room. The room accidentally caught fire and, as a
result, her son was burnt to death.
Instead of casting the blame on her step sister-in-law, Ying asked her to take the matter easy,
saying that she had a dream which told her that her little son was destined to die in an accident.
Ying died at the age of 93 with five sons, four of whom became noted scholars.
Back to the top

LIAN (Integrity)
A man of true integrity (or what is meant by the character Lian) will not take even a piece of
straw that does not by right belong to him (A). Therefore, in order to be true to Lian, one has to
be very particular about accepting and giving gifts however small they might be; for how can we
expect those who are greedy enough to accept bribery of very small value be able to resist the
temptation of sparkling valuables. Only those who are uncontaminated by lusts and selfish desires
and whose heart are as pure as spring water and as clear as crystal can be true to the character
Lian. Whenever righteousness and honesty demand, such people would even throw away
glittering gold and priceless valuables, not to mention bribery of far less values.
A. The Work of Mencius:
"In any matter contrary to the righteousness which they had prescribed, or contrary to their
principles, they would neither give nor take a single straw."
While passing Changyi on his way to assume his new post as Governor of Tunglai, Yang Chen
met his former friend Wang Mi whom he had recommended for the post of Magistrate of
To show his gratitude, Wang visited Yang that night and proffered a gift of 10 catties of gold to
the latter.

Refusing to accept the gift, Yang said to his old friend, "I have recommended you to the post
because I know you are an honest man. I am sorry that you are still unable to understand what
sort of person your friend is."
Notwithstanding the refusal, Wang tried to persuade his friend to accept the gift, saying that
nobody would know what they were doing at such time of the night. Yang again spurned the
offer, saying, "Heaven and Earth know, you know and I know. So, how could you say that
nobody would know?"
For four years Yang held his post of governor in Tunglai, but he accumulate no fortune. His
maxim was: "It is always better to leave your heirs a good reputation rather than a handsome
Being a man of irreproachable character, Chao Kuei was chosen by Chow Kuei-wang as his
personal secretary.
It happened that fruits fell into Chao's yard from a neighboring house whereupon Chao
immediately ordered his servants to pick them up and return them to his neighbors.
"I am not doing this to earn a good reputation but just to show you that no one should take
anything that does not belong to him", was the explanation given by the honest scholar.
"An honest government official should always remain poor", was the admonition given by Mrs.
Tsui to her son, Yuan Wei, who was about to assume his new government post.
After quoting the statement made by Yuan Wei's cousin, the aged mother declared, "A man
should be glad when he was told that his son, a government official, remained as poor as a church
mouse, and should feel unhappy when he was informed that his son had accumulated a handsome
fortune. I have seen many of our relatives who are so happy to see their sons becoming rich that
they tend to forget the shame brought by the means whereby their sons have obtained their
wealth. A man would be no better than a robber if he received money other than his salary. After
you have assumed your new post, you should always bear in mind that cheats never prosper."
Yuan Wei, acting in accordance with his mother's advice, was later reputed to be an "official of
great integrity."
General Tsao Hsiu-ku commander of the army in Hsinghua, died poor.
His burial service was delayed owing to the lack of funds. Tsao's subordinates raised $500 and
handed it to Mrs. Tsao as funeral expenses for her late husband.
The young daughter of the late general, however, frowned upon the kind assistance. She asked
her mother to return the money to the contributors, pointing out that her late father had never once
during his lifetime received help from others and that they should respect his wishes.

The mother consented and returned all the money to the contributors.
Back to the top

MING (Straightforwardness)
Gifted with a clear mind and a spirit as clear as crystal is a person of "Ming." Always
cherishing an inveterate belief in the truth, he judges all matters impartially. His keen observation
and logical reasoning, like the light of a thousand candles, pierce through the darkness of
falsehood and deceit. He understands and knows perfectly well the weaknesses and defects of
those he is fond of, and the merits and virtues of those whom he dislikes; for although there are
no fixed rules to judge a person or a thing, yet a careful review of the facts and passing events
will enable a person with a clear mind to judge people and things rightly.
It was biting weather, foggy withal. Tung Mao-nu was found murdered in a muddy street and
the money bag which the victim had slung on his back was taken away.
In the house of Chang Ti was found 5,000 cash, the exact amount contained in the lost money
bag, and Chang admitted under torture he was the murderer.
The case was finally brought before Governor Szu Ma-yueh of Yuchow. When questioned, the
brother of the victim told Governor Szu Ma that the sheath of a sword was found near his
brother's body.
Realizing that the dexterously-made sword could only be produced in the city, Szu Ma
summoned all the sword-makers in the city to the Yamen. Kuo Men, one of the sword-makers,
admitted that the sword was one of the finest pieces of his work, and that it was sold to a man
named Tung Chitsu last year.
Acting upon this information, Tung was finally taken to court where he confessed that he was
the real murderer.
Tung was executed, while Chang was released.
Minister Pei Tu of the Ching Dynasty was holding a conference when he was informed that his
official seal was stolen.
The evil tiding did not come as a surprise to Minister Pei who, instead of ordering the arrest of
the thief, told his subordinates to make arrangement for a banquet.
At midnight the banquet was still in progress when Minister Pei was told that the official seal

was found in its usual place. Pei made no further inquiries into the matter and carried on with the
When asked regarding the matter, Minister Pei said that the seal could only be stolen by his
subordinates who knew where it was placed. The subordinates, if pressed, would either destroy
the seal or throw it into the water.
He became respected everywhere for his power of comprehension.
Chao She, a great general of the State of Chao, died.
The Chins invaded the State of Chao, and Chao Kuo, son of the great general, was appointed
commander to defend his fatherland.
Asking that the appointment be canceled, Chao Kuo's mother told the king that her son was an
inexperienced youth and that he should not be entrusted with such an important post. She added
that her son, though well versed in theoretical knowledge from the books, had no practical
experience, and that his stubbornness and pride would result in a complete defeat.
The request was turned down and Chao led a force of 400,000 picked men to resist the
After a few days' battle Chao was defeated, and his army annihilated.
Chow Tsai-mei, an honest official of the Ming Dynasty, was the son of a nefarious father who
offered and received bribes and terrorized his native villagers.
Chow had a good wife who, dissatisfied with the misconduct of her father-in-law, frankly told
the old man that a calamity would befall him if he carried on with his evil deeds.
The wicked father accepted his daughter-in-law's advice and turned over a new leaf.
Despite his repentance, his son suddenly went blind and was dismissed from the official post.
Indignant, the old man resumed his evil activities, whereupon his son regained his sight and
was given another post.
Accompanied by his whole family, Chow left for his new post aboard a boat which was
overturned by a severe storm. The whole family drowned except his wife and his youngest son
who preferred to remain in their native town.
Back to the top

DER (Magnanimity)
One must first perfect one's own virtues before one can imitate the sages and lead others to
virtues. To adhere strictly to the teachings of the sages and at the same time to elevate the morals

of others by showing them good examples of virtuous acts is precisely what is meant by "Der."
So, the best way to be virtuous is to possess and carry into practice the virtues of the sages (A).
Only those, who are free from all sins, can find happiness and peace of mind.
A. The Great Learning:
"To illustrate illustrious virtue."
When Wang Tung of the Han Dynasty reached Peking, he met in a small inn a young scholar
named Chin Yen who was seriously ill through grief.
Overcoming with emotion, Wang approached the sick scholar with the intention of giving the
latter a helping hand.
With tears rolling down his cheeks, the dying scholar handed ten catties of gold to Wang and
asked the latter to bury him with the money after his death.
The scholar passed away. Wang spent only one tenth of the money on the burial service and,
honest as he was, he buried the rest of the sum under Chin's coffin instead of putting it into his
own pocket.
Wang was later appointed Magistrate of Changting. On the day of his assumption of office, a
swift and stately horse ran into the building.
While on a ride to Loyang, the Magistrate fell from the horse which ran away to a nearby
house. The owner of the house asked Wang about the origin of the horse, whereupon Wang
revealed the whole story.
Surprised, the house owner expressed his heartfelt thanks to Wang, saying that the deceased
scholar was his son.
The bravery of Chiang Hsiung, a subordinate officer, is worthy of all praise. He risked his own
life for the protection of the Duke of Chu and successfully put the enemy to flight.
Behind this great display of valor lies a dramatic story which was frankly told to the Duke by
Officials of the State of Chu, including Chiang, were one evening attending a banquet given by
the Duke when suddenly the light was extinguished and the hall was thrown into pitch darkness.
A beautiful young lady, who was the wife of the Duke, told her husband that someone, making
use of the darkness, was carrying on a flirtation with her. In order to find out who the man was,
the lady untied the tassel of the man's hat.

Dissatisfied, the Duke ordered his servants to loosen the tassels of everyone's hats, pointing out
that it was not worth while to insult an officer just for the sake of a woman's chastity.
In a few minutes the light was rekindled. Everyone was without a tassel in his hat, and the man
who was guilty of flirtation could not be found.
Two years later, the State of Chin invaded the State of Chu. Duke Chu was besieged by the
enemy and it was only through Chiang's bravery that the Duke managed to make a successful
It transpired that Chiang was the man who flirted with the Duke's wife at the banquet.
Widowed shortly after her marriage, Wang was reduced to extreme poverty. However, she
brought up her nine-month old child to fine manhood and soon became rich.
The success of her life was solely due to her fine virtue and the way she treated other people.
Shortly after the death of her mother-in-law, one of her sisters-in-law asked for a part of the
inheritance. Without hesitation, she gave everything to her sister-in-law who soon sank into
poverty after her husband had squandered all the money.
In spite of the avarice of her sister-in-law, Wang gave her assistance from time to time and
treated her sons like her own sons.
General Han Hsin gained a decisive victory over the State of Chu and was made Duke of Chi.
Leaving no stone unturned, General Han at last succeeded in finding in Loyang the laundry
woman who, he said, was in his benefactress.
It was this laundry woman who helped General Han to achieve his success. As General Han's
mother was too poor to feed him, the laundress daily spared her own meal for General Han until
he enlisted in the army. General Han met the laundress when he was out fishing for his meal in a
cold winter morning.
Back to the top

ZHENG (Uprightness)
If a person is not upright or "Zheng" in the way of putting on his hat and clothes (A), he will be
laughed to scorn by those who see him. How can one escape the censure of others, if one is not
upright both in word and conduct? To be true to uprightness, one has to be upright both inwardly
and outwardly. Remember the adage in the Book of Rites: "If your mind and body are upright,
there is no fear that you will not pay reverent attention to your business." Throughout the Book of
Poetry there is absolutely no trace of depraved thoughts.

A. Confucian Analects:
"He who adjusts his clothes and hat, adds dignity to his appearance".
It was the dead of night when suddenly a storm with heavy rain battered down the house of a
The widow sought refuge in her neighbor's house but was refused. Speaking through the
window, the widow asked her neighbor, who was a man, why she was refused.
The man replied, "I understand that men and women under the age of sixty should not be left
alone in the same house. I can't let you come in because we are both young."
"Then why don't you follow the example of the great sage, Liu Hsia-hui, who remained
imperturbed even when a woman was in his arms?" asked the woman.
"Liu Hsia-Hui is a great sage. I can't restrain myself as he did. Therefore, I think you had better
stay outside", replied the young scholar who doubly locked the door.
Chang Tsun-lu was such an upright man that even the wicked were afraid of him. Men would
stand at attention with bowed heads to show their respect when he passed them, while women
would rush into their houses and close their doors to demonstrate their esteem for him when they
saw him coming.
One day a thief, who was caught in the act of stealing wheat, refused to pass Chang's house
while being taken to the police station. He said that he would rather die than let Chang know he
had committed a crime.
Two brothers were once having a quarrel over their inheritance. Since the court had delayed in
handing down the verdict, the brothers called on Chang for a fair settlement. But when they saw
Chang, they could not utter a single word. With profuse perspiration they finally expressed their
willingness to give their inheritance in favor of their relatives. "It is easy to procure money, but it
is difficult to find a brother", was the brief advice given them by the noted scholar.
"A man should be trained for sageship from the very beginning of his life", was another wise
saying of the scholar.
Pan Chieh-yu, charming daughter of a military officer of the Han Dynasty, was a great favorite

of King Cheng.
Whenever he went out for a visit, the King never failed to ask Pan to accompany him. Pan,
however, always refused the invitation, saying that a good ruler should always keep company
with his useful subordinates and not with women.
Jealous of the King's attention toward Pan, the Chao sisters told His Majesty that Pan was daily
calling down curses upon his head.
Pan denied the accusation. Nevertheless, she was later transferred to Changhsin Palace to serve
the Queen Dowager.
Mrs. Cheng Lien, a 17-year-old widow whose husband died a year after the marriage, often
dreamed that a handsome young man was making love to her.
Realizing that it was her beautiful face that had caused all the trouble, she shaved off her hair
and dirtied her face.
Thereafter she was never again visited by the young man in her dream. And she remained a
poor widow for the rest of her life.
Back to the top

YI (Righteousness)
Let us decide our course of action according to righteousness or "Yi." Do not accept wealth
which it is against righteousness for you to accept, and do not eschew difficulties which it is
against righteousness for you to eschew. No matter whether it is wise or unwise for us to do or to
say a certain thing, provided that it is in accordance with righteousness for us to do or to say it,
we must muster up our courage, and go head doing or saying it. Do not ask what the consequence
of doing or saying a certain thing is, but rather ask whether it is in accordance with righteousness
or truth for you to do or to say it.
Tso Ju, an official of the Chow Dynasty, heroically sacrificed himself as a consequence of his
protest against inhumane act committed by his tyrannical ruler, King Hsuan, who had decided to
execute Tu Pai, Tso's colleague, after having made a false charge against Tu.
Tso proved his colleague's innocence but his request for the release of his friend was turned
"Why should you denounce your ruler and side with your colleague?" the King asked Tso

Tso's reply was that he would not hesitate to impeach his colleague if the latter had done
anything wrong, but that he would stoutly maintain his friend's innocence if the latter was right.
Furious, King Hsuan threaten Tso with the death penalty should the latter refuse to amend his
Undaunted by the threat, Tso told the King that he would rather die than live in defiance of
Tu and Tso were both decapitated.
Lu Kung and his wife were old and had no son. Fortunately they had a friend named Lou Hu
who supported them.
Later Lou lost his job and Lou's wife suggested that they should stop supporting the idle pair.
This was refused by Lou who maintained that, as a true friend, he should offer assistance to the
poor old couple as long as they lived.
The old couple continued to live at the expense of their friend till they died.
King Ming of the State of Chi was missing during a visit to one of his neighboring states.
Wang Sun-chia, who had accompanied the King, returned to his native place after a fruitless
search for his ruler.
Declaring that his son's return without the King was a dereliction of duty, Wang's aged mother
enjoined upon him to continue his efforts to locate the whereabouts of the King.
Knowing that the King had been slain by the natives, Wang gathered a number of the
disbanded royal guards and succeeded in arresting the assassin.
The assassin was executed and Hsiang was crowned king to succeed his father.
How a woman had saved the State of Lu from being annexed by her neighboring state was an
outstanding even which took place toward the end of the Chow Dynasty.
When the invading forces of the State of Chi were at the outskirts of the capital of Lu, a woman
was seen rushing into the city to seek refuge with a child in her arms and another walking behind
her. The invading soldiers gave chase to the woman whereupon she threw away the child in her
arms and picking up the child walking behind her, she ran away with him. She did not halt until
the soldiers threatened to shoot her with their arrows.
When questioned, the woman revealed that the child she took with her was the son of her
brother while the child thrown away was her own son. Like all other human beings, she said, she
had greater affection for her own son but, to uphold righteousness, she had to give up her own son
for the protection of her nephew.

Deeply moved the army of Chi abruptly stopped their invasion which, as the woman had said
to the invaders, was an infringement against righteousness.
Back to the top

XIN (Trustworthiness)
A virtuous man should be absolutely trustworthy both in word and deed; for without
trustworthiness or "Xin" he cannot only be called virtuous but he will have no footing in society
(A). Contracts entered into with one of the parties, who has not the least intention of seeing them
carried out, are of no avail. Whenever you undertake to do anything, look out for others'
malicious intentions and at the same time see to it that your own intentions be always sincere and
truthful. Never make any promise unless you are certain you can keep it. Sincerity and
trustworthiness go a long way even in the wild tribes of the North and the South (B).
A. Confucian Analects:
"If the people have no faith in their rulers. There is no footing for the state."
B. Confucian Analects:
"Let his words be sincere and truthful, and his actions honorable and careful, - such
conduct may be practiced even among the wild tribes of the South or the North."
Toward the end of the Han Dynasty, the armies of the State of Wu, under the command of
General Sung Tso, occupied the city of Yangchow and put its Magistrate to flight.
General Tai Sze-tse, garrison commander of Yangchow, was captured. Being a man of his
words and a noted militarist, Tai was soon released by the invading forces and was appointed
Later, Liu Yu, the magistrate who fled to Yuchang, died and Tai was ordered to proceed to
Yuchang to reorganize Liu's army of 10,000 soldiers. The subordinates of General Sung,
commander of the invading forces, however, asked their superior to rescind the order, pointing
out that Tai was unlikely to return if he was allowed to go back to his former armies.
Notwithstanding the advice given by his subordinates, General Sung permitted Tai to go back
to his old troops. On the eve of his departure, Tai told Sung that he would return in sixty days.
Tai kept his words. He returned to General Sung after 60 days' stay in Changyu.

Liu Ting-shih was engaged to a girl before he became successful.
Through years of hard work, Liu obtained a doctor's degree. In the meantime, the girl went
blind as the result of a serious illness.
Liu was advised to marry the blind girl's sister. Liu, however, refused and remained adamant in
his refusal and married the blind girl as he had promised to do.
When Mencius, the great sage of China, was a boy, he lived next door to a butchery.
Seized with curiosity, Mencius asked his mother, "Why should these pigs be butchered?"
"They are butchered for your meal", replied the mother.
The answer was really meant for fun, but to show that one should always keep one's words, the
mother, who was a poor widow, pawned her ring and bought her son some pork.
Found guilty of having displeased the king with his outspoken advice, Tang Chia was ordered
to be exiled to Lingnan. On the day of his departure, Tang asked his wife to marry another man,
saying that she was too young to live a lonely life and that he was not likely to return.
Binding up her hair with a piece of cloth, Tang's wife urged her husband to write his name on a
piece of paper and attach it to the cloth. Then she swore that no other man would untie the cloth
but her husband.
The cloth was not loosen until 20 years later when her husband finally returned from exile in
Back to the top

YEN (Forbearance)
When adversity comes your way, do not act hastily and desperately, but be calm and patient
and think well before you do anything. This will prevent a great catastrophe which would be
forthcoming, if you should in a fit of despair lose your head and act against reason. Contain
yourself for anger and suppress your selfish desires, and you will find yourselves making fewer
blunders. If, whatever you do, your wishes fail to materialize, you must turn introspectively and
examine yourselves in every respect (A). If you can forbear all drawbacks, you will know no
misery or despair.

A. The Works of Mencius:
"If, whatever we do, our wishes do not materialize, we must turn inward, and examine
ourselves in every respect."
Tang Lou-shih was a self-possessed old man whose forbearance for all sorts of insults and
reproaches exceed all others.
Whenever anybody pointed the finger of scorn at him, he would pretend not to know about it
and whenever he was told that some one was calling him all kinds of names, he would ask the
informant not to repeat the expletives, saying that the one who repeated them might be suspected
of having really intended to swear at him.
Tang's brother was appointed Magistrate of Taichow. On the day of departure, Tang enjoined
upon his brother to keep cool if he should receive jealous reproaches from others.
"Don't you worry", replied the brother, "I could even wipe off the saliva if someone spits in my
"You shouldn't clean your face after someone had spat on you. What you ought to do is to let
the saliva dry itself. The one who spits in your face must be angry at you, and if you try to wipe
off the saliva, it will only tend to increase his indignation", Tang explained to his brother.
"As a matter of fact", Tang concluded, "you should pay no attention to insults as a measure to
stave off possible troubles; for the one who dares to openly insult others must be quite an
influential person."
Wei had been anxious for a baby all his life. A son was finally born to him when he reached the
age of 40.
His jubilance, however, was cut short by a tragic accident which resulted in the death of his
only son.
The maid servant whose carelessness was responsible for the death of the baby, was dismissed
and sent home by Wei who told his wife that the baby was killed as a result of a fall from his
Deeply grateful to Wei, the parents of the maid daily prayed for the birth of another baby to
Wei who saved their daughter from being beaten to death by her mistress.
The following year, Wei's wife gave birth to another son who looked very much like the first

Proffers of commendations were given in Chinese fiction to Hsieh Hsiao-nua, a wealthy
merchant's charming daughter who underwent trials and humiliations to avenge her father's death.
Hsieh's father was killed by the notorious bandit-leaders, the Shen Brothers.
Determined to avenge her father's death, Hsieh disguised herself as a man servant and entered
the castle of the notorious bandits. For months she patiently waited for the first opportunity to
take revenge on the Shen brothers.
One night the robbers, including the Shen brothers, indulged in wine-drinking and became
intoxicated. Availing herself of this opportunity, Hsieh sneaked in and beheaded the five brothers.
Having been dismissed from his office, Sun Lin-fu, an official of the State of Wei, proceeded
to the State of Chin and asked the Duke of Chin to assist him to get back to his official post.
The Duke of Wei rejected the request of the Duke of Chin, as the former had an intense hatred
of Sun.
Indignant, the Duke of Chin declared war against the State of Wei which was much inferior in
arms and wealth to her neighboring state.
War and destruction were, however, avoided by the wise counsel of the Queen of Wei who told
her husband that, as a real hero, he should comply with the request of the Duke of Chin and
reinstate Sun in order to save his people from being massacred by their strong neighbors.
Back to the top

GONG (Impartiality)
Heaven shows no favoritism to anyone under it; nor does earth to anyone upon it. Likewise,
we, human beings, must not give way to partiality and favoritism, but treat all people alike
irrespective of race, color or religion. Always follow the middle course and never go to extreme
A. The Doctrine of the Mean:
"He took hold of their two extremes, determined their mean, and employed it to govern his
people. That was the way that Shun used to rule the country."

Terror and Chaos reigned in China during the middle of the Tang Dynasty when Wu Tse-tien, a
wanton woman and favorite of Emperor Tai Tsung, ascended the throne after having banished the
heir apparent to remote lands.
Wu's subordinates received and offered bribes, killed innocent people and did all sorts of evil
To avoid possible danger, all the high officials kept their mouth shut except Hsu Yu-kung who
openly denounced Wu for having encouraged her subordinates to do evils.
The denunciation irked Wu and aroused her indignation and finally Hsu was decapitated.
When Chen Chih-chung assumed the office as premier, his son-in-law asked him to offer him
an official post.
Chen turned down the request, pointing out that government officials could only be appointed
by the government.
Li Mu-chiang was a kind-hearted mother who had deeper affection for her step-sons than for
the two sons of her own.
Nevertheless, her affection was not reciprocated and the four sons maltreated her.
It happened one day that the eldest of her step-sons was taken seriously ill and it was only
through the tender care exercised by the kind mother that he recovered from his illness.
Ashamed of their conduct, the eldest step-son together with his three brothers went to the
district government where they confessed their misbehavior to the Magistrate and highly extolled
the fine virtues of their step-mother.
Ou Yang was married to Liao Chung-cheng.
One year after their marriage, her father-in-law and mother-in-law died from plague and left
her a three months' old daughter.
Ou had a daughter of her own, but she breast-fed her sister-in-law and let her neighbors suckle
her own child.
Her sister-in-law and her own daughter had both grown up but the former was better treated.
Ou's explanation to her daughter was that her sister-in-law, being motherless child, naturally
should be better treated than a child whose father and mother were still living.
When people asked her daughter in marriage, the mother would always give the same negative
answer, saying that she loved her sister-in-law better than her own daughter and that, therefore,

she would like first to give her sister-in-law in marriage.

Ou died. Overcome with grief, her sister-in-law was confined to bed for more than a year. It
was said that even the most hard-hearted man could not refrain from tears when he heard the
lugubrious wailing of Ou's sister-in-law.
Back to the top

BO (Universal Brotherhood)
Buddha said, "Since all things in the Universe came from one and the same body, let us treat all
of them as our equals." Mo-tzu said, "We must love others as much as we love our own
goodselves." Treat all people alike, and you will find that all obstacles to true peace will vanish.
What have we learnt from the books of the sages of old? To be a person of Bo, one must regard
all people as if they were our own brothers and sisters, and all animals and other creatures as if
they were our companions.
In accordance with the old Chinese practice, Hsu, magistrate of a certain district in Kiangse,
bought a slave girl for his daughter's marriage to the son of the magistrate of a neighboring town.
The slave girl, who was supposed to do all the household work for the newlymarried couple,
was one day ordered to clean the bride's room.
To her surprise, she found that the room was her own bedroom when her father was magistrate.
Having discovered the truth, Magistrate Hsu, unselfish as he was, canceled his daughter's
marriage in order to give his slave girl in marriage.
Upon hearing the news, the father of the bride-groom asked Magistrate Hsu to let the slave girl
marry his son.
The unselfishness and the spirit of universal love of both the magistrates were highly
commended in Chinese fiction.
A great drought occurred in districts south of the Huai River when Chang Ting-shang was
Governor-General of Huainan.
The people started a general exodus. To preserve peace and order, the police and gendarmes
took action to stop the evacuation.
Chang, however, ordered his subordinates to send all the people out of the districts, pointing
out that he would rather have the districts deserted than to see his people starved to death.

The spirit of universal love displayed by an aged woman saved the people of Chienchow from
being massacred by the invading forces of Nantang.
Wang Chien, commander of the invading forces, ordered the massacre of the entire population
of Chienchow when his armies occupied the city. With a view to protecting his mother, who was
a citizen of Chienchow, from being butchered like the other inhabitants of the city, Wang
instructed his subordinates to locate the whereabouts of his mother and plant his commending
arrow in the door of her house as a symbol to safeguard her against molestation.
The aged mother, however, declined to accept her son's commending arrow stating that she
would rather die with her town folks than to see the entire city massacred.
Deeply moved by the noble sentiment of his mother, Wang rescinded the order for the
massacre of Chienchow.
Toward the end of the Sung Dynasty, China was overrun by Mohammedan insurgents who
captured nearly the whole of China.
In an effort to recover the lost territory, General Sung Hsiehfang, loyal commander of the Sung
Dynasty, launched a counter-offensive against the tribesmen which resulted in a complete defeat
and the death of the great general.
After having foiled General Sung's attempt, the Mohammedans ordered the arrest of Sung's
wife and children who had escaped to nearby mountainous districts.
Unable to find Sung's wife, the Mohammedans threatened to massacre all the inhabitants in the
mountains, should the latter fail to reveal the whereabouts of Sung's wife.
Upon hearing of the news, Mrs. Sung voluntarily went to Chienkang where she told the
Mohammedans that they might have her arrested, but that they have no reason to massacre
innocent people in the mountains.
Several weeks later when Mrs. Sung learned of the death of her husband, she strangled herself
to death, leaving her two sons to survive her.
Back to the top

XIAO (Filial Piety)

To support your parents materially and provide them with victuals is but the filial duty of an
ordinary man; but to support them spiritually and provide them with the food of virtue is regarded
as the filial duty of the purest nature. In providing food, clothing, shelter and medicine for your
parents, you must show them deferential esteem as well, otherwise what difference will there be
between feeding a horse or a cow and feeding your parents. When your parents die, you must

mourn for them, but you must not mourn too much to impair your health (A). In short, filial duty
or Xiao is the stepping stone to wisdom.
A. Confucian Analects:
"Mourning having been carried to the utmost degree of grief, should stop at that."
Motherless when very young, Min Tzu-chien was maltreated by his step-mother. It was winter
and the two sons of the step-mother were dressed in long padded-robes while Min Tzu-chien was
only given coarse clothes to wear.
The motherless boy shivered with cold, but remained reticent when he was reprimanded by his
father for not being able to drive a carriage.
The father soon found out what was the matter.
"I married you", the father said to his wife, "So that you would take care of my son. Now that
you have failed to do your part, you must leave my house without delay."
Begging that his step-mother not be turned out of the house, Tzu-chien explained to his father,
saying, "All of your three sons will be exposed to the intense cold if mother quits the family,
whereas if she remains, I shall be the only one to suffer."
Deeply moved by the heartfelt words of her step-son, the mother repented and accorded equal
treatment to the three sons thereafter.
Discussing the question of filial piety, Tzu Lu said to Confucius: "In serving my parents when
they were living, I went to remote places to find a living and fed myself with coarse food. After
the death of my parents, I proceeded to the State of Chu where I became rich. Now I have
everything I want, but I can never serve my parents again even in the humble way as I did
Confucius replied: "Tzu Lu is the one who had exerted his utmost efforts in serving his parents
when they were alive, and cherished filial thoughts after their death."
Chao was a widow who earned her living by weaving. She gave substantial food to her aged
mother-in-law, while she lived on simple fare herself.
As her mother-in-law drew near death, she sold her son for a hundred dollars with which to buy

her dying mother-in-law a coffin.

A fire broke out in the neighboring house and Chao brought her mother-in-law's body to safety,
but she was unable to remove the heavy coffin from the house.
"Oh God", she cried, "Is there anyone who can remove the coffin for me? I have sold my son to
buy it."
As her words ended, the fire, which was fanned by strong wind, unexpectedly passed the
widow's house to the house next door and swept northward. Her house remained unaffected.
There lived in the Han Dynasty a man named Tsao Yu. He was an expert fencer as well as a
good singer.
On the fifth day of the fifth moon in the 2nd year of Chien An, he was drowned when his boat
capsized in the rough sea. The victim's body failed to float.
Mourning over the death of her beloved father for 17 days and nights, Tsao Ou, the victim's 14year-old daughter, cried bitterly along the bank of the river, and finally jumped into the water in
the hope of finding her father's body.
Five days later the girl was found floating in the water with her beloved father in her arms.
In commemoration of her filial piety, the magistrate set up a monument along the Kianganan
highway where Tsao Ou was buried.
Back to the top

REN (Benevolence)
A man who always cherishes a feeling of commiseration (A) is a man of Ren, if he can retain and
enlarge it. This kind of men will not even hurt an innocent insect, and their benevolence is shared
by all creatures. They seek to establish and enlarge others because they themselves wish to be
established and enlarged (B). Ultimately they will become sages and buddhas. Scholars whose
minds are imbued with Ren are always compatible with reason no matter what they do.
Nevertheless, they must abide by Ren, even in moments of haste and danger (C).
A. The Works of Mencius:
"The feeling of commiseration belongs to all men."
B. Confucian Analects:
"A benevolent man, who wishes to be established, seeks also to establish others, and who
wishes to be enlarged, seeks also to enlarge others."

C. Confucian Analects:
"A superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to the virtue of
benevolence. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it and in times of danger, he cleaves to it."
Chen I, a noted scholar of the Sung Dynasty, was a private tutor of King Che Chung.
Leaning over the balcony after the lesson was over, Che Chung plucked a flower and, finding it
odorless, threw it away.
Dissatisfied with what Che Chung had done, Cheng tendered his advice, saying, "I deem it
cruel to destroy trees and branches when they are sprouting with advent of Spring."
Continuing, Cheng added, "I was told that whenever Your Majesty spits, you will first make
sure that there is no ant on the ground. I wonder if this is true."
"Yes, I do this because I am afraid that the saliva might inflict injury on the ants", the King
"If you could treat your people like the ants, the country would flourish", the tutor concluded.
While on a hare hunt, Chen Hui-tu, a great hunter, accidentally shot a pregnant deer with an
After having been injured by the arrow, the deer gave birth to a baby deer and gave the utmost
care to her baby until she died from the wound.
Shocked by the poignant scene, Chen became a monk and built a temple where he spent the
rest of his life.
It was a dark time in the affairs of the country for the State of Wei, where corruption was at its
height and innocent people were brutally executed.
In an effort to save the situation, Chien Pu-I, Mayor of Peking, daily visited the jail and
personally questioned every new prisoner.
Chien's mother was a kind-hearted old woman, who took special interest in her son's work. She
felt happy whenever she was told that an innocent prisoner had been released, and refused to take
her meals when her son relaxed his efforts in his work.
As a result of Chien's hard work, the city was once again in good order. The benevolence of the
mayor's mother was highly commended.

Ou Yang-hsiu, known as one of the eight famous writers of the Tang Dynasty, came from a
poor family.
Since he could not afford to enter school, Ou was taught by his mother who told him many
anecdotes about her late husband.
Ou's father, who was Minister of Justice, was known for his untiring efforts to absolve innocent
people from false accusations. In some cases, however, he was unable to exonerate the prisoner
whom he knew was really innocent. Expressing his regrets, Ou's father declared: "Though I have
tried my best, the execution of innocent people is still unavoidable. So, I have realized that
innocent people can never hope to extricate themselves from their difficulties when they are
judged by men who will not even take the trouble to afford them an opportunity to prove their
Back to the top

CI (Mercifulness)
Be tolerant and benevolent, and act according to the rules of mercifulness or Ci. To save others'
lives is to save one's own life. Abstain from killing and always give others a chance to live. These
are the fundamental rules of Ci. Pity the childless and the orphans (A), and help the poor and
needy. Confer benefits on the people extensively and give assistance to those who are in need of
it (B). These are the good deeds a man of Ci should do.
A. The Works of Mencius:
"There are the old and wifeless, or widowers, the old and husbandless, or widows; the old
and childless or solitaries, the young and fatherless, orphans. These four classes of people
are the most pitiful mortals on earth; for they have none to whom they can confide their
secret yearnings. In King Wen's benevolent government he made them the first objects of
his regard."
B. Confucian Analects:
"Tzu-kung said, "Suppose in the case of a man who confers benefits on the people
extensively and who gives assistance to those who are in need of it, what would you say of
him? Might he be called benevolent man?" The master said, "Why mention only
benevolence when you speak of him? Must he not have the qualities of a sage? Even Yao
and Shun were still solicitous about this."

When Hsiang was crowned king of the State of Chi, Tien Tan, a great statesman, was
appointed premier.
It was winter. While on an investigation tour to a remote district, the premier saw an old man
shivering with cold on the sand.
Feeling much sympathy for the old man, Premier Tien asked his subordinates to spare some
clothes for the dying creature. On account of the intense cold, however, no one responded to
Tien's request, whereupon Tien slipped off his own coat and handed it to the old man.
Toward the end of the Yuan Dynasty a famine occurred everywhere in China.
Provincial and district representatives gathered in Peking to solicit instructions and material
assistance from the Minister of Finance.
The Ministry not knowing the seriousness of the famine, rejected the request for famine relief.
The refugees, however, were saved from starvation through the good offices of one of the
representatives, a man named Kiao Miao who, taking out a chaff cake from his pocket, told the
authorities in tears, "Only a few of us could procure this sort of food. There are lots of us who
have nothing to eat at all."
The pathetic appeal moved the Ministry authorities who immediately ordered the appropriation
of a famine relief fund for the refugees.
When Emperor Ching Chih-huang, a despotic ruler, ascended to the throne, the barbarian tribes
invaded China.
With a view to strengthening the national defenses, Emperor Ching ordered the construction of
the Great Wall. Despotic as he was, Emperor Ching Commandeered a number of workers from
each province and district to complete the greatest construction work ever undertaken by the
Chinese. Youths were forced to leave their homes for remote places where they later died from
hardship during the course of the construction.
The people in Szechuen, however, were not affected as a result of the sacrifices made by a rich
widow named Ching.
She gave up all her properties amounting to more than a million dollars as expenses for the
construction of the Great Wall in Szechuen Province. Thus the people were not only saved from
being sent to remote places but the were also paid for their labor.
Animated by the widow's noble deed, the people of Szechuan completed the construction of
their part of the Great Wall in only a few month's time, while the construction of the other parts of
the wall was still far from completion. A tower was built by Ching Chih-huang to extol
meritorious exploits of the rich widow.

Yuan Lian-fan loved Jo Sze, his only son, more than anything in the world.
Winter arrived and Yuan's wife was in the process of making a padded-robe of ordinary
materials for the son, when her husband intervened and insisted that a robe of better material
should be made.
Despite Yuan's insistence, his wife made a garment of ordinary materials for their son,
explaining that the money required for making a fine quality garment would be sufficient to make
many a garment for the poor who were always exposed to the cold during the winter.
Back to the top

JUE (Comprehension)
The reason why heaven has gifted us with talents and wisdom is to enable us to render services
to the world. So, if we let our selfish desires get the better of us and act as if we were intoxicated
and dreaming all the time, then our existence would become of no importance to the world. In
order to find out the truth about life, we must first of all readjust our hearts and thoughts, and then
once we have found out the truth, it is our duty to propagate it and teach it to others who have not
yet comprehended it (A).
A. The works of Mencius:
"I am the one gifted by Heaven with talents and wisdom to first comprehend the truth. I
will propagate it and teach the people about it."
Hui Neng, a monk, took as his master the venerable high priest, Hung Jen, the 5th successor to
the Huang Mei Buddhist throne who had such a high regard for his disciple that he used to cover
the former with his Buddhist gown so that no sinner could see the young monk.
One day the high priest expounded to his disciples the famous Buddhist Canon "Chin Kang"
and when they came to the sentence, "A human mind should yield to no temptation that tends to
mislead it", Hui Neng comprehended the truth and said:
"Unexpected as it is, the "Karma" or inner force of an individual is pure, everlasting, self-

contented, firm and capable of producing all things."

Hung Jen was definitely assured that Hui Neng had mastered his own "Karma", and made him
the 6th successor to the Buddhist throne.
Lu Tung-pin put up in the same inn as Yun Fang, a Taoist priest of Chengyang. While Yun
Fang was cooking, Lu fell asleep.
He dreamt that he went to take the highest imperial examination in the capital; passed the
examination with the highest marks, and was honored with the enviable title of "Chuang Yuan"
by the Emperor. During the forty years that ensued, he was appointed to hold various responsible
positions in the government; was twice married to rich heiresses, and was blessed with sons and
sons-in-law who themselves held high government positions. Then as a final blessing he was
made prime minister, which position he retained for ten years with power and influence second
only to the Emperor. Suddenly he was found guilty of a serious crime. Deprived of all honors and
personal belongings and separated from his wife and children, he was exiled to remote lands.
It was from this sad fate that he awoke from his slumber. Standing by his side, Yun Fang said
laughingly, "I have not yet finished cooking my meal, but you have already had a long dream."
Greatly surprised, Lu asked Yun Fang, "Do you mean to say that you know what I dreamt?"
"Certainly", replied Yun Fang, "Your dream is full of sad and happy news. It represents a life
lasting a period of fifty years. Thus you see it is foolish to take life seriously; for life is but an
empty dream."
Lu was then made to comprehend the truth about life, and went away with Yun Fang to seek
after the Tao (or Way).
Chiang Shih-pa, a native of Haiyen, together with her husband determined to extinguish sexual
desires when they were in the prime of their life. She daily recited the Buddhist Canon of the
Great Vehicle for forty years.
One day she and her husband were found busy washing and cleaning themselves and changing
their clothes. Amidst the burning of incense, they sang Buddhist hymns, wrote Buddhist
discourses, and died.
Chao I-tzu, daughter of a man named Ying of Yangchow, was made a widow when she was
quite young. She decided to confine herself to her room seeking after the Tao.
So strong was her will that she passed away after sitting in the same posture in her room for
three years. She was the authoress of a book of Buddhist Hymns.

Back to the top

JIE (Temperance)
A person of high ideal and strong will power cannot be made to swerve from his set purpose
(A). He would rather be broken to pieces like a piece of precious jade than to become intact like a
piece of cheap common tile. Behold the pine trees when winter comes: how they can withstand
the bitterness of the cold wind and snow (B). Likewise, the uncompromising spirit of a person of
high Jie can be best seen in turbulent times. History tells us that only great sages dare to make
diversion from the rigid principle of loyalty and allegiance to their kings, when they see fit, and
that ordinary virtuous persons will be satisfied by merely adhering to it.
A. The Works of Mencius:
"Not to be swerved from his set purpose by either wealth or poverty and not to be
overawed into submission by either authority or force - these are the qualities that
constitute a gentleman."
B. Confucian Analects:
"It is only when the year has become cold that we know the pine and cypress are the last to
lose their leaves."
Defeated after three months of war, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty sent an envoy by the
name of Su Wu to Mongolia to sue for peace.
The chief of the Mongolian tribesmen detained Su Wu, the peace envoy, who was later put into
a cellar and deprived of his daily food. Su Wu's life, however, was saved by a heavy fall of snow
and rain; for by drinking the rain and snow, he was able to prolong his life for another four days.
The Mongolian chieftain, disappointed to find Su Wu still alive, took him for a god and sent
him to the uninhabited frozen plains in Pei-hai to herd sheep.
Now, Su Wu was in a really woeful predicament; for he was not only deprived of food and
water but he had to hunt wild animals to keep himself alive.
After 19 years of undaunted hardship and privation, Su Wu was finally allowed to return to his
native land and was made marquis by Emperor Hsuan.

It was all about a great famine in the State of Chi. Upward of 1,000 people had been starved to
death and thousands were at death's door.
Chien Ao, a rich but arrogant man who had stored up abundant provisions, offered to save the
people from starvation. Being haughty, he doled out his stored provisions in a very rude and
inhospitable manner.
Dissatisfied with Chien's arrogance, a half-starved old man refused to accept the doled food,
explaining that the reason why he had rejected the offer was because it was given with such a
supercilious air.
Chien apologized, but the old man would rather starve than to swerve from his determination.
Huang Fu-kuei, wife of Premier Huang, was not only a charming young lady but was also a
learned scholar. Premier Huang died and one of his subordinates named Tung Cho was appointed
to succeed him.
Attracted by Fu-kuei's beauty, Tung asked her to marry him. Clad in a long white gown, the
widow visited Tung and told him that she would not marry him.
Flourishing his sword, Tung threateningly commanded the widow to forget her late husband
and marry him without delay. Instead of complying with Tung's request, the widow exclaimed in
an angry tone, "How dare you insult the wife of your former superior, you ungrateful cur."
The poor widow was eventually whipped to death.
The Great Wall, one of the world's seven wonders, was the burial ground for many learned
scholars and patriots.
Three days after his marriage, Fan Chi-liang, a noted scholar, was ordered to proceed to the
uninhabited and barren districts of Chahar to participate in the construction work of the Great
Wall. He died from starvation. The young widow, after mourning over the tragic death of her
husband, decided to make a search for the remains of her husband which were buried under the
Unsuccessful in her attempt, she cried bitterly for three days, whereupon the Wall collapsed
and she found her husband's remains.
Fatigued from having walked through the deserts with her husband's remains on her back, she
fell down in a swoon at the bottom of a hill where she died hand in hand with her husband.
Back to the top

JIAN (Frugality)

Frugality or Jian is the source of happiness. It liberates a person from the bondage of money
and saves him from the loss of his valuable time and energy which a spendthrift, in his reckless
squandering of money, can not escape from sustaining. The best way to attain frugality is to
extinguish our selfish desires and have a complete control over ourselves. But we must not
mistake niggardliness for frugality; for the former is the enemy of the latter.
Tsao Pin was a thrifty army commander in Chinchow. He wore no fine clothes when he was
off duty.
One day while Tsao, was picnicking in the woods with his subordinate officers, a special envoy
from a neighboring state came to see him.
"Have I the pleasure of speaking to Colonel Tsao?" the envoy asked.
"There he is", replied one of the subordinate officers.
"Are you joking? Do you think a high officer like Colonel Tsao will wear such ragged
clothes"? the envoy asked.
It was only after a close scrutiny that the special envoy believed that the one in rags was really
Colonel Tsao.
When Pei Hsieh-chu assumed the post as Governor of Hopei, he dismissed 38 servants engaged
by his predecessor to hunt and fish for the latter's meals.
In addition, he ordered his 30 personal servants to look after the horses instead of using them
for his own purpose.
Pao Hui, who was sent by Wang Liang, Minister of Justice, on a special mission to Tunghai,
happened to pass the Minister's residence.
He dropped in, intending to make a courtesy call on the Minister's wife,
As he entered the hut, he saw no one. Later, in came a woman in ragged clothes and holding a
bundle of firewood in her arms.
To his surprise, he found the woman was the Minister's wife.
Heng, a rich merchant, intended to marry his daughter to a poor scholar.
The poor scholar, Pao Hsuan, however, refused to marry Heng's daughter, pointing out that a

rich man's daughter could never make a good wife to a poor scholar.
Attracted by Pao's scholastic accomplishments, Heng's daughter insisted on marrying Pao,
saying that she would do anything he wished her to do.
Taking off her fine garments, she dressed herself in shabby clothes and started to work in the
small hut of her husband.
Back to the top

ZHEN (Genuineness)
What is Zhen? It is the absolute unanimity of one's heart, words and thoughts, which are in
strict conformity with one another without an iota of falsehood. Therefore a person of Zhen will
never yield to the temptation of wealth and his mind will not be tainted with selfishness and evil
thoughts. His thoughts are sincere, and his heart upright (A). And his inward thoughts always
agree with his outward actions. Whatever he says will never by contradictory to what he does.
A. The Great Learning:
"Their thoughts must be sincere before their hearts can be upright."
Toward the end of the Sung Dynasty, Liu Kung-shih, a learned scholar of Pienliang, was
appointed Magistrate of Kwangwen.
As he had no money to proceed to Kwangwen to assume his post, he asked a rich man for a
loan of $50.00 as traveling expenses.
The Chins invaded China; ransacking Pienliang and, as a result, the rich man was killed and his
family was rendered homeless and penniless.
Meantime, the poor scholar returned to Pienliang after three years' service as Magistrate of
Kwangwen. He had only with him a sum of $70.00, but he handed every copper back to the rich
man's wife who know nothing about the loan.
Fang Yai-tsu, proprietor of a rice shop, one day carelessly received some counterfeit coins
from a customer.

Not knowing that the coins he received were false, Fang bought a small pig with part of the bad
coins. Later, he discovered the truth when he tried to purchase something with the remaining
portion of the false coins.
Having found out that the coins were bad, Fang immediately sent his servants to find the pig
seller. He handed good coins to the seller and tossed the bad coins into the river.
It was a tragic story of a 30-year-old woman who killed herself when she found that her
promise to help was doubted by others.
While General Wu Tzu-hsu was passing Piaoshui on his way to seek refuge in the State of Wu
after his father and brothers were executed by Emperor Chu, he saw a woman walking in front of
him with a basket of fruits and cakes.
Hungry after three days' incessant walking, Wu asked the woman to spare him some of her
Just then the armies sent by Emperor Chu to pursue Wu arrived. Wu asked the woman not to
reveal his identity and the woman promised, but Wu doubted her sincerity.
To prove her sincerity, the woman jumped into the river and was drowned.
Later, General Wu defeated the armies of the State of Chu with the aid of the State of Wu. He
visited the river and threw a piece of gold into it as a token of his gratitude to the noble woman.
Having learned that his son had died from a sudden illness in Paking, Li and his wife proposed
to marry their widowed daughter-in-law as a concubine to a rich merchant in Nanchang who was
a married man but without posterity.
The proposal was met with strong opposition from the young widow who attempted suicide
several times but each time her attempt was frustrated.
Heading for an unknown destination, the widow wrote a poem on the wall of the Chinshan
Temple when she passed the latter.
Later, the husband, who was erroneously reported to have died, returned. He left no stone
unturned to find his wife but he was unable to locate her whereabouts.
Finally, he passed the Chinshan Temple and discovered his wife's poem. By reciting the poem
aloud all day and night he succeeded in meeting his wife who had in the meantime become a nun.
Back to the top

LI (Propriety)
A person may be said to be truly dignified if he is reverential and respectful, both in

appearance and at heart. Propriety or Li constrains a person from committing depraved acts. It
puts a stop to impoliteness and ends all disorders and confusion. A person without Li or propriety
is not different from the wild beasts.
Loyang, onetime capital of China, was regarded as the model city of China when it was
governed by the noted scholar Sze Ma-wen.
Sze imbued the minds of the people with moral principles which were strictly observed by
everyone. The result was that peace and order reigned throughout the city.
The above is but one of the numerous instances to show how true Confucius was when he said:
"If a man can for one day constrain himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe
perfect virtue to him."
Yang Shi, an expert in classics, obtained a Chin-shih degree. Instead of assuming an official
post designated for him, he proceeded to Yingchang to acquire higher learning from the noted
scholar Cheng Yi.
After the death of Chen Yi, Yang returned to Tsinan where he lived together with Cheng
Ching, brother of his late teacher.
Yang was then 40 years of age, yet he treated Cheng Ching as a teacher and accorded him the
same respect that was due to a teacher.
One day it was snowing and Cheng Ching took a nap. To protect his teacher, Yang did not
leave the room until Cheng awoke when the snow was already three feet deep.
The success of Mencius, China's greatest sage next to Confucius, was attributed to the utmost
care his mother had for him.
Finding the environment unfavorable for her son, Mencius's mother removed from their native
village to the city. Having taken up their residence in the city, Mencius began to imitate the
merchants in dealing with business transactions.
Realizing that her son was unfit to learn business, the mother again re-moved to a house next to
a school where Mencius picked up the study of propriety.
One day when Mencius returned home from school, his mother put a number of questions to
him. Mencius could not answer them, whereupon his mother wrecked her weaving machine and
warned him that, just as she would not be able to find a living after she had wrecked her weaving
machine, it would also be true that he would find it difficult to make a living if he idled away his
time while young.

From then on Mencius worked hard and soon became a scholar.

Lieutenant Li Tsun-hsu was promoted to the rank of commander after he married Princess
Cheng Chung.
According to ancient propriety, Li's father should treat Li as a brother when the latter married a
However, Li completely disregarded the ridiculous custom when, on the occasion of his father's
birthday, he offered his congratulations in conformity with the propriety of a son and not in
accordance with that of a brother.
The King, instead of punishing Li for having committed a breach of the ancient propriety,
highly praised him for his filial piety.
Back to the top

HER (Harmony)
In order to be in a state of harmony or Her, we have to be introspective and examine well our
heart; for in there is found an embodiment of our feeling of pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy, any
one of which may be stirred and get the better of us. So, no one can be said to be truly in a state of
harmony unless one is able to regulate one's feelings in a reasonable degree (A). If one's action is
neither too rigid nor too elastic, it pleases both one's own goodself and others. A person of
harmony never tries to be extraordinary, but is always polite and amiable. However, harmony
does not mean weakness (B).
A. The Doctrine of the Mean:
"When there is no stirring of pleasure, anger, sorrow or joy, the mind may be said to be in
a state of equilibrium. When these feelings are stirred but are constrained, there ensues
what may be called a state of harmony."
B. The Doctrine of the Mean:
"Therefore, a superior man cultivates a friendly harmony without being weak."

An extraordinary method was used by Magistrate Chao Kwang-han of Yingchuan to govern the
With a view to prevent the people from forming a united front against the government, Chao
hired a number of men to create bad feelings among those who were said to be the most unruly
people in Yingchuan.
When Han Yen-shou succeeded Chao as Magistrate, he decided to stop his predecessor's
malpractices. He summoned the leaders of the people to a conference in which he urged the
people to let bygones be bygones and emphasized the importance of cooperation among the
Moved by Han's exhortation, the people in Yingchuan lived in harmony ever after.
The Miu brothers lived together in great harmony until they were married.
Contention arose as their wives urged them to divide their property and live separately.
Slapping his own face, the eldest brother said to himself, "You are supposed to be a learned man
shouldering the responsibility of reforming the country, why can't you put your own house in
The other brothers repented and again lived together in harmony.
Quarrel had been merrily and incessantly going on among the five brothers of the Wang
family, four of whom were married.
Shao Ti, a young girl of noble birth, was about to become the wife of the youngest brother of
the Wangs when great anxiety was felt by Shao Ti's parents for the future of their daughter.
When Shao Ti became a member of the Wang family, she treated her brothers-in-law and
sisters-in-law with due respect. She did everything she could for her mother-in-law who was
maltreated by her sisters-in-law.
Whenever she had any eatables, she would distribute them among her nephews and nieces. One
day one of her nephews dirtied her clothes but she made no complaints.
After a year's stay in the family, Shao Ti finally put the house in order. Her brothers-in-law,
feeling ashamed of their misconduct, no longer quarreled among themselves.
Kwang, a rich man's daughter, was a fat and ugly woman. She wished to marry no one but
Liang Hung, a noted scholar of a poor family.
When Liang heard of the love Kwang had for him, he accepted the proposal of marriage and
married the rich girl.
Though the daughter of a rich family, Kwang was able to go through all sorts of hardship for

her husband.
Under the pressure of financial difficulties, the poor scholar finally proceeded to Soochow
where he became a servant of Lord Chu Peitung. His wife followed him and served him with due
Realizing that Liang, who had won so great respect from his wife, must be a person of noble
birth, Lord Chu treated the couple as guests, though in fact they were his servants.
Back to the top