19. I Have Gained Much, but You Have Lost a Lot
hat year, Good Man Wang was twenty-six years old, and he was working as a laborer for his Uncle Zhou. One day, he was hoeing the field with the work leader, Wang the Fourth. Good Man Wang said to him, “When we set the new shoots apart, we should keep the bigger ones. It doesn’t matter if the spacing is off a little bit. But we must be careful to separate the young shoots from the weeds. Otherwise, when fall comes the seeds of the weeds will ripen and fall to the ground, and next year the field will be filled with weeds, to the point that it becomes uncultivated land. Most importantly, when we hoe the soil, we must go deep enough to touch the wet soil; then we must bury the weeds that we dig up and not give them any chance to grow again.” Wang the Fourth would not listen.
Interestingly enough, after a period of time, the shoots had grown up dark and strong in the field hoed by Good Man Wang, while the ones in Wang the Fourth’s area were still scrawny and yellowish. The green shoots were still in the dirt, and the dirt mounds were uneven in height. When it came time to reap the fall harvest, the difference was even greater.
One day, when they took a break from hoeing the fields, Wang the Fourth said to Good Man Wang, “You are too honest! You are doing a lot more work and expending a lot more energy than I am, but you only earn seventy dollars, which is equivalent to half my wages. Ah! You’re taking a big loss! Why don’t you just take it easy? Who cares whether there are weeds or not, or if the harvest is more or less? In any case, we only come here to make a few more dollars. That’s what counts.”
Good Man Wang said to him, “Oh! You’re the one who’s making a mistake! Actually, I have truly earned something. You have lost a lot!” Wang the Fourth found these words quite strange. Good Man Wang pointed to the newly-hoed field in front of them and asked him, “Is there any difference between the work you and the work I did?” Wang the Fourth said, “No difference.”
Good Man Wang continued, “There is no difference, yet your wages are the double of mine, and I do more work than you do. That is to say, ‘I have an excess while you come up short.’ “Besides, it is not easy for our boss. He must have manure, rice fields, seeds, animals, and laborers to plant the field. Oh! He also depends on the Heavenly Lord to make the sun shine, let the wind blow, and send down the rain. The seeds are sown in the spring, but the harvest cannot be reaped until autumn. Suppose that, due to our lack of skill and efficiency, the harvest is less than what it should be. Then we will have failed our conscience, been unfaithful to our boss, and fallen short of the heavenly principle. If we do not do our best, we will lose in many ways. I would not do it.” Wang the Fourth did not understand this principle at that time. So, he just kept silent and did not reply. Good Man Wang thus knew that Wang the Fourth would not have a smooth life in the future.
Thirty years later, when Good Man Wang was promoting free education in Manchuria, Xu Ruilin and Zhang Yaxuan of An Tong were in the process of establishing Feng Yi Normal College for Women in Zhao Yang County, and they invited Good Man Wang to attend the opening ceremony. When Good Man Wang arrived in Zhao Yang, the County Supervisor Dai and many others were waiting at the train station to welcome him. Among the welcoming crowd, the leader Wang the Fourth was also there to join the excitement. When Wang the Fourth found out that it was Good Man Wang, he pushed through the crowd and said to Good Man Wang, “Well! Are you not Wang the Second?” Good Man Wang replied, “Yes. Are you well, old leader?” He said, “Well my foot. Now I cannot even find people to hire me as a laborer, let alone as a leader! I live on doing odd jobs. But, you are really doing well!”
Good Man Wang said to him, “It is not just now that I have begun to do well. I was already doing well when we were hoeing the fields together. Remember what I said to you then?” Wang the Fourth felt very ashamed and said, “Well, I was not being good-hearted then. That’s why I am suffering hunger and cold now. It is very bitter. How should I conduct myself so that I can be better off?”
Good Man Wang very sincerely said to him, “Starting from today, you should gather manure and place it in other people’s fields. You have to be determined to serve other people as if serving yourself. Then your situation will improve.” Wang the Fourth earnestly did as he was told, striving to carry out those instructions. Not long after, a wealthy landowner found a pile of manure in his field and wondered who had left it there. After making an inquiry, he learned that it was Wang the Fourth who had sent the manure to him. Seeing that Wang the Fourth was able to gather manure, the wealthy landowner hired him and gave him room and board. All Wang the Fourth had to do was gather some manure every day and place it in the field. He finally had a place to stay.
This story shows that if one does good deeds with good intention, one will reap good results. Therefore, we should not focus on benefits and fail to fulfill our duties.