There are people who have been evil to begin with and later changed to become good people. There are also people who were good first and then became evil. Thus, the Living Buddha, Ji Gong, said, "If a greatly evil person reverses his course, that is great wholesomeness. If a greatly good person falls, he is no different from a greatly evil person." The Venerable Ji Gong once said that if the greatly evil people of the world were to change and reform, they would become greatly good men. However, if good people do evil deeds, then they are worse than the men with great evil. Why? Because they commit these deeds deliberately and knowingly. Their offenses are three times as serious.
Now let's talk about Zhang Yaxuan. He was evil before he became good. So he could still be considered a greatly good man. He was a native of Hai Cheng County of Liaoning Province and was born at the end of Qin Dynasty. His other name was Jianrong. Hai Cheng is a place where scoundrels gather. So people there deceive and cheat each other, and they compete with each other in their skills of deception. Since he was born in such a place, naturally he did not learn to attend to proper work and took up professional gambling.
He put some devices in the dices to control them. With his invention he could throw any kind of dices he wanted. Therefore, he was a constant winner. However, gambling is an activity associated with many troubles. Though he won money, his life was not as he liked. He did not think it good to engage in fights and quarrels with people all day long. So he changed his profession.
What did he change to? He became a horse dealer. He sold horses. He bought horses from one end and sold them at the other end. When he found an older horse that looked pretty vital, he would chisel the horse's teeth so that they looked like a young horse's. That way, he could sell the horse as a young one. Since he had this skill, he also made a lot of money selling horses. He bought a few houses and also some pieces of land. He was a man of sudden wealth in Hai Cheng.
During this time, his friend got an illness which caused him to have a swollen abdomen. Neither western doctors nor Chinese herb doctors could help him. He could not even walk. That was the time when Good Man Wang was in Manchuria giving people spiritual instructional talks to cure their illnesses. He just talked to the patients. People with whatever kind of illness got well after listening to him talk. With such curiosity, he carried his friend on his back to see Good Man Wang. He said, "If you could cure this illness against which even doctors are helpless, with your talks, I would regard you as divine." So when he got to Good Man Wang's, with his friend on his back, Good Man Wang told his friend to go home. He said, "You must have been unfilial to your parents. You go home and repent to your father. Give rise to a true mind of repentance, then your illness will be cured."
Repentance is not something to be done perfunctorily. One must bring forth a true mind to repent.
Originally, this Wang Shushen and his father were like water and fire. They could not bear each other's presence, nor listen to each other. They were like foes. So when the son got this illness, the father was also wishing him a speedy death.
Under such circumstances, Good Man Wang bid him go home and recognize his own faults, and repent to his father. (The two never talked to each other. It's said, "To converse even half a sentence with someone whom one does not see eye to eye is a sheer waste of time.") Therefore, this Wang Shushen waited until it was late in the evening and his father went to sleep. He set up a small table with candles and an incense burner. He lit the candle, burned the incense, knelt down at his father's feet, and started repenting and admitting his own faults.
To be continued