Epoch Times Staff
Dizi Gui (弟子规) (Standards for Being a Good Student and Child) is an ancient Chinese text for children that teaches moral values and etiquette. It was written during the Qing Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (康熙帝) (1661-1722) by Li Yuxiu.
Beneath the conservative, “old-school” verbose of this ancient classic, one can still find gems of wisdom that remain surprisingly relevant to our modern society. A new lesson is covered in each issue.
On April 13, local newspapers published the kind deed of Transcab taxi driver Mr Oh Kim Beng, who knocked on the doors of over 20 condominium units to return a 13-year-old’s bag that had been left in his cab.
Mr Oh eventually managed to return the bag when the teenager’s family contacted his company, and the boy’s uncle also shared the cabby’s good deed on his Facebook page.
In this case, we can actually say that not just one, but two good deeds were done! Why is that?
Doing something kind is a good deed, but as rightly put in Dizi Gui, “Speaking of others’ good deeds is in itself a good deed.” By sharing the cabby’s kindness to the public, the teenager’s uncle had done some good himself.
When we share others’ good deeds, we encourage the do-gooder to do even more good in future. Perhaps the do-gooder had off-handedly decided to do something nice that day. But when he is praised and his kindness is made known to others, he becomes motivated to do even better and make kindness a part of his daily life.
In addition, when we all share the good that others have done, we foster and encourage a society of kindness, where good deeds are recognised and praised. Spreading others’ good deeds is thus a good in itself!
Cai Yong’s Kind Gesture Motivates a Young Man
Cai Yong (蔡邕) was a well-known literary figure who lived during the Eastern Han period. At the height of his fame, he was frequently paid visits by prominent figures.
Cai, however, never let fame get to his head. He remained humble and treasured people of talent.
During his time, there was a young and talented man named Wang Can(王粲). Wang came from a reputable family, and from a young age he proved to have outstanding intellect beyond his peers.
One day, when Wang was in Changan city, he paid Cai a visit. Although Cai was entertaining some prominent guests, he immediately went out to greet Wang, and in his haste wore his shoes on the wrong feet.
Cai brought Wang into the guest room, where he introduced Wang to his prominent guests, and earnestly and unreservedly praised Wang in front of everyone.
This incident was a huge morale booster to Wang. He eventually became one of China’s most prominent writers, and was known as one of the “Seven Scholars of Jian An” (建安七子).
Publicising Bad Deeds Within Reason
It is right that we learn to have the courage to speak up against evil deeds we see around us, with the intent to prevent them from happening again.
However, we shouldn’t publicise “bad deeds” with the intention of gossiping or being spiteful, as that in itself is a bad deed.
When we all share the good that others have done, we foster and encourage a society of kindness, where good deeds are recognised and praised.
As mentioned in Dizi Gui, “Publicising others’ shortcomings is in itself evil. People hate it very much, and troubles arise.”
There is a story from the Han Dynasty about a general named Guan Fu(灌夫). Guan was a chivalrous and passionate fighter who dared to stand up against all things evil.
However, Guan had a few faults—his fiery temper and lack of self-restraint. He was never careful with what he said or when he said it, which frequently offended many officials, including the prime minister.
One day, the prime minister got married and hosted a wedding banquet at his place. During the banquet, Guan stood up and offered the prime minister some wine. However, despite Guan’s insistence, the prime minister declined to drink the wine, saying that he could not take alcohol.
Guan felt insulted but, because of the prime minister’s high position, he could not vent his anger on the prime minister. Instead, he lashed out at the guests, finding excuses to shout and curse at them for the slightest perceived fault.
His behaviour upset the guests and spoiled the party. This greatly angered the prime minister, who had him arrested and thrown into prison. The prime minister eventually arrested his family as well and had them all executed.
When Guan perceived that the prime minister had done a “bad deed”, he chose to react in a spiteful manner, publicising the other guests’ so-called “faults” and embarrassing the prime minister and his guests. He behaved in an uncharitable and unacceptable manner, hence his arrest and execution.
Confucius once said, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” By exercising a little more tolerance and introspection, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble.