Ancient Chinese Stories: Generosity and Tolerance

Fishermen carrying cormorants catch fish at a river on April 23, 2005 in Xitang Town of Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province, China. (Getty Images)
Fishermen carrying cormorants catch fish at a river on April 23, 2005 in Xitang Town of Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province, China. (Getty Images)
By Epoch Newsroom

Chen Xiao was a magnanimous person born in Shaoxing during the Western Han Dynasty. As a young boy, he enjoyed fishing outside the city. During one fishing trip, Chen Xiao noticed someone trying to steal the fish he had caught. The thief knew he was spotted and quickly hid in the grass. Chen Xiao approached him and offered him the fish. The thief was very embarrassed and declined the offer. From then on, the man never stole fish again.

One night, Ji Bo, Chen Xiao’s neighbor, stealthily shifted the fence dividing their property toward Chen’s side, giving himself more land. When Chen Xiao noticed what Ji Bo had done, he pulled the fence toward his land another 10 feet. When Ji Bo went outside and found that he gained even more land than he had usurped, he realized what had happened. Ji Bo was deeply embarrassed and returned the land to Chen Xiao. Furthermore, Ji Bo even ceded an extra 12 feet of his land to Chen Xiao. Their conflict was resolved through generosity and tolerance.

As the proverb states, “Collecting on grievances is an endless endeavor.” Revenge and evil deeds can’t resolve conflicts; they only feed hatred. Kindness is the real solution for grievances and hatred. It benefits everyone. These principles are easy to understand but hard to put into action. Desires for fame and self-interest sabotages our ability to be generous and tolerant. Yet, if we give up these desires, we will find true happiness, something priceless. So why not put kindness into practice?

Translated by Dora Li into English; this story is reprinted with permission from the book “Treasured Tales of China,” Vol. 1, available on Amazon. 

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