All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master and all good and wise advisors, good evening!
My name is Qingnan Wang. Tonight I am going to share my learning from reading the book on Wang Feng-yi— Good Man Wang. Everyone has read
Vajra Bodhi Sea journal and many books by the Venerable Master, and is quite familiar with the Elder Wang Feng-yi. In addition, the Venerable Master has lectured on his biography in
Water Mirror Reflecting Heaven. Nevertheless, I will still give a brief introduction on his background.
Good Man Wang was born in 1864 and passed away in 1937. He was a native of Zhaoyang County in Ho Province. The Venerable Master once mentioned that people in that locality are very cunning. However, an honest and simple person appeared, that is Wang Feng-yi. Today I am telling the story of Good Man Wang because in many ways it is enlightening to cultivators. The way he understood was the way of the heavens, but from the point of view of his cultivation, be it his own internal states, or his experience in teaching others, there are many areas worthy of our investigation. He was very filial to his parents from the time he was very young. While his mother was alive, they were not rich. He worked as a cowherd for others from a young age. However, he had a very happy childhood. His mother passed away when he was twenty-four, and he experienced much suffering in the following years. At that time, a sore grew on his back. Initially it was insignificant, but as time passed it became more severe. Eventually he could not work and nearly lost his life. By the time he was thirty-five, he had already been sick for twelve years, and had very little physical strength. One day, he listened to someone lecture on texts concerning cultivating virtue. He felt that when virtuous people associate, they admit their faults; whereas when people with no virtue gather they contend and argue, hence he decided to reform thoroughly.
As he reflected, he found that his problem lay in bearing grudges against others, because he felt that people around him were not dignified. For example, they would gamble away their hard-earned money. Since he couldn't bear to see this, he harbored grudges inside; therefore his sore could not heal. Upon discovering this problem, he repented sincerely before Heaven. After he had repented, his sore healed completely overnight. In the same year, a friend of his was falsely accused and put in jail. He tried his best to save that person. With utmost determination, he did not withdraw despite the difficulties he faced. During the war of resistance, in the middle of the night he suddenly saw bright light and understood the way of Heaven. According to the book's account, he came to a sudden enlightenment, understood his mind, and saw his nature. Do not ponder this usage of language too deeply. In Mainland China, Buddhist terms are popular, and they were not being used in a strict sense here.
Later, during the three year mourning for his father, he discovered the method of healing by the principle of nature. It involved observing the character of the person, analyzing the cause of the illness, and exhorting the person to reform his character so as to eradicate the illness. Many people were thus cured of their illnesses. After he finished mourning for his father, he devoted himself entirely to public welfare. He established many free girls' schools and boys' schools to reform people's minds and the ways of the world. He was endowed with internal wisdom. He was sincere with people and never used his power to oppress others. He moved many people.
His detailed biography is given in The Record of the Words and Deeds of Wang Feng-yi. One can understand the complexities of daily life of Good Man Wang upon reading this book. But when one uses humaneness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and faith to examine it, one will find that he was perfect in these five aspects. He used humaneness when he dealt with problems between father and son. He spent ten to twenty years to successfully convert his son and daughter-in-law. He trusted his workers. He used the righteousness of a king and his ministers when he employed his workers. He was utterly loyal and trustworthy when he worked for his employer. His younger brother divided the family property with him several times and took much advantage of him. Yet he yielded with propriety and always fulfilled the wishes of his younger brother. He also taught his wife to understand the way of Heaven. He settled many disputes between them as gently as water. This is wisdom. Hence he is replete with the five virtues.
To be continued