Stories from Ancient China: Dong Yong's Filial Piety Touched the Heavens

Filial piety is one of the Chinese traditional virtues. All the kindhearted and capable emperors in Chinese history promoted filial piety among their people. Only when a person respects and loves his parents can he respect the elderly in society, humbly learn from the seniors in the work place, devote himself to the country, and sacrifice his life to defend the country. Filial piety's true meaning and its derived characteristics were used to educate children and people, and the results were very good. In God's view, filial piety is one of the great virtues and should be valued and promoted among humans.

Below is a story about Dong Yong, a son with filial piety who was rewarded by Heaven. Dong Yong was a real person in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 200). He did not pursue "free love" as in the novels crafted by the writers or dramatists.

Dong Yong was from the Qianchen area of the Han Dynasty, currently north of Gaoyuan Town, Gaoqing County, Shandong Province. After his mother died when he was a child, he did his best to serve and care for his father. He worked hard to give his father a happy life. When he went to the field to farm, he pulled his father on his cart to the field. His father rested besides the field so he did not feel lonely. After his father died, he did not have money to bury him. He sold himself to be a servant and used the money to bury his father. Recognising his kindness and virtue, his master gave him a fair amount of money and let him go home.

Dong Yong stayed home and mourned his father. After three full years, he left home to go to his master's home to work as a servant. On his way there, he met a lady. She said to him, "I'd like to be your wife." So Dong Yong and his new wife arrived at his master's home.

His master told Dong Yong, "The money I gave you was a present. You can go home." Dong Yong said, "With your kind gift, I was able to bury my father properly. Although I am poor and my status is low, I do have my dignity. I want to work for you to pay back your kindness and graciousness." His master asked, "What can your wife do?" He replied, "She can weave." His master said, "If that's the case, your wife can weave one hundred rolls of silk for me, and then we are even." Dong Yong's wife then began to weave cloth for the master. It only took her ten days to weave one hundred rolls of silk.

Dong Yong and his wife said goodbye to his master. After they left the master's home, his wife told him, "I am a weaver in the heavens. Because of your filial piety to your father, the Heavenly God asked me to help you pay back your debts. Now I have completed my mission, so I will say goodbye." Right after she spoke, she flew up to the sky.

Dong Yong's historical account is found in Gan Bao's book, Searching Deities. Gan Bao lived in the Dongjin Dynasty (317-420 A.D.) He wrote Searching Deities based on many folk and fairy tales.

During the Chinese New Year when families gather, the elderly like to tell children stories of filial piety.

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