Stories from Ancient China: Forbearing and Magnanimous

Those people considered throughout history to be truly wise are those who are broadminded and extremely tolerant. Those who are broadminded and forbearing own superior wisdom and spiritual force. On the other hand, there are also some narrowed-minded people in the world. However, only the broadminded, extremely tolerant and wise individuals are capable of reaching high accomplishments and achievements.

Once upon a time in ancient China, a cultivator asked a Buddhist master, "With respect to one's mind, why does its capacity differ between large and small?" Rather than directly answering his question, the master said to him, "Please close yours eyes. Make a castle in your mind." The cultivator closed his eyes and thought deeply. He worked out a castle in his mind. Then he said, "The castle has been constructed." The master said to him, "Please close your eyes again and make a hair." The cultivator made a hair in his mind and told the master, "The hair has been made." The master asked him, "When you constructed the castle, did you do it solely with your own mind, or by the joint effort with other people's minds?" He answered, "Only with my mind." The master asked again, "When you made the tiny hair, did you do it with your whole mind or only part of your mind?" He replied, "with my whole mind." The master laughed, "When constructing a big castle, you used solely your own mind. When making a tiny hair, you still used your own mind. Now you know that you are able to adjust the capacity of your mind to become larger or smaller."

There is a famous story from the Han Dynasty about the high ranking General Han Xin's draining a cup of humiliation. A teenager bully insulted Han Xin in the presence of a very large group of people, "You are tall and strong, and always wear a sword, yet you are still a coward." He continued, "If you do not fear death, you can just kill me. If you fear death, crawl between my legs." Han Xin carefully looked at the teenager and then lay prostrate on the ground. He crawled through the teen's legs. People on the street laughed at Han Xin for being so timid. But later, Han Xin was appointed to be a high ranking General by the Emperor of the Han and led the troop to charge the enemy lines. He went through fire and water and achieved brilliant results in his battles. This proves that he was a brave man with magnanimity and forbearance, rather than a coward. Because of his magnanimity, he became a pillar of the country and was trusted to take over important tasks and heavy responsibilities. More incredible, when a rank of the kind that was granted a territory was conferred on him, when he arrived at his land he appointed the former teenager who insulted him in the past as an official to patrol the city. He told his subordinates, "He is a hero. When he insulted me in the past, I could have killed him. But it would have been meaningless to do so. I forbore the humiliation." This is the nature of the forbearance of a person who has high ambitions and aspirations.

In the Qing Dynasty, there was a premier whose name was Lin Zexu. He was famous in history for banning opium. He wrote couplets and put them on the wall of his house. One said: "An ocean takes in the streams of numerous rivers, it is broad and vast. A wall of bronze and iron stands firm and indomitable, it is strong without lust." The couplet was so vivid and figurative that it was pregnant with meaning. The first part earnestly admonished him to extensively listen to and bear with different opinions. By doing this, he was able to do things better and put himself in an invincible position. The second part warned and reminded him that he should absolutely refuse and stop any longings and desires, because he was a high-ranking official. By doing this, he was able to maintain justice and stand firm and upright. The spirit of forbearance that Lin Ze Xu promoted is very much admired and has become a teaching to later generations.

It is a virtue to treat other people in a lenient and forgiving manner. Being lenient to others can accomplish great causes. Being forbearing to others can allow one to become a great person of outstanding talent. A broad-minded person always inspects himself to find out the shortcomings of his own, but he never haggles over other people's wrongdoings. Therefore, he can accumulate great virtue and his nature and mind can reach very high level realms.

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