The following spring, as Good Man Wang was tilling the fields, he saw that no one else was around, so while holding the plow, he loudly asked the cow, "What do you think? Is a rich man born rich?" "No! The wealth comes from hard work and thrift." "Then, is reputation something one has to begin with?" "No, it is established by oneself" He carried on like this, asking and answering himself. However, he still had no clue as to how Uncle Zhou had obtained his reputation and wealth. He pondered over this for a year without reaching any conclusion, and thus he became restless. He decided to work as a laborer in Uncle Zhou's home in the coming year to find out how he had gained his reputation, and also to let Uncle Zhou take a look at him to see if he could become a useful person in the future.
Just think about it. The ancient sages and men of virtue were also people like us. How did they manage to leave a good name which will go down to posterity, while we are nobodies and may even have our reputations ruined? It is said in The Doctrine of the Mean, "One who possesses a sense of shame is close to being courageous." As long as we are still alive, we can repent of our offenses, even if they are as massive as the sky. All we have to do is to repent with a true mind, to courageously change our errors, and to become a new person; then it will be just like a single lamp which dispels a thousand years of darkness in the deep valleys and damp caves.
15. Respectfully Obeying Mother's Instructions
In the winter of the year when Good Man Wang was twenty-four years old, his mother became very ill. Good Man Wang tended to her from morning till night, tasting the medicinal broth himself before giving it to his mother. More than ten days passed in this manner. Three days before his mother passed away, she suddenly felt great pain and moaned incessantly. Good Man Wang felt something must be wrong and asked his mother, "Mother! Is there something still bothering you that you cannot let go of?" His mother sighed and said, "Oh! I am worried about Shuyong (Good Man Wang's fourth younger brother)! Everyone in our village knows he is fond of gambling. After I die, probably no one will allow his daughter to marry him. I cannot die in peace!"
→To be continued