Stories from Ancient China: Nothing Gained and Nothing Lost

Li Shiheng was a member of the Imperial Academy (an institution that was in charge of writing confidential government documents) in the Song Dynasty of ancient China. He was once sent to Gaoli (present-day Korea) as an envoy, and Yu Ying, a military officer, accompanied him as his assistant. After their mission was successfully completed, Li entrusted Yu with all the valuable gifts they received.

On their voyage back home, Yu Ying saw water seeping into the boat and worried that it would get his belongings wet. He put the silk cloth and fine silk items that were given to Li Shiheng underneath his own belongings to prevent his things from getting wet.

While sailing on the high seas, a sudden strong wind and high tide engulfed the boat, and with the heavy weight it was carrying, the situation became quite urgent. The boat's captain asked Yu Ying to throw some of the things overboard to reduce the weight, otherwise, the boat ran the danger of capsizing. Amid the chaos and confusion, Yu Ying threw overboard about half of the items in the cabin. After a while the ship was stabilized, and they were out of danger.

When Yu Ying checked the goods that were left, he found that all the things he threw overboard were his own. Li Shiheng's belongings were stored underneath them, so none of them were thrown overboard, but they got a little wet.

These two men held different attitudes towards the gifts they received. Li Shiheng took them lightly and didn't pay much attention to them, and he lost nothing. Meanwhile Yu Ying took great care of his possessions and gained nothing. Nothing happens by accident. Li Shiheng gained because he was a righteous person, and he took fame and wealth lightly; Yu Ying lost was because he was not a kind and honest man, and he emphasized fame and wealth too much. The ideological difference between them produced different results for their actions. Reward the kind and punish the wicked: natural law governs everything.

You are welcome to print and circulate all articles published on Clearharmony and their content, but please quote the source.