所以頭先說「幹活」這兩個字，這幹活嘛，要把它幹活起來；不要越幹越死，要越幹越活！越幹越活，這個「活」不是說東家的活，自己也活。怎麼自己活呢？自己生活也安定了，東家得到你給他幹活，他的生活也沒有問題了，這互相活。這互相活要怎麼樣？要「幹」；你若不幹就不活了，所以他明白這「幹活」兩個字要給人家幹活了。以後他凡事都是一半盡義務的性質，一半呢在他應該做的份外，他又多做了很多。所以他每在什麼地方給人做工，人家都歡喜他；因為他好像一個很蠢的人，不識數似的，就知道做工，不知道計較錢多少。不是像現在做工的，無論幹什麼不管工做到沒做到，先要 commission （酬勞）；先要把酬勞算到頭裡，我能得到多少酬勞？我能得到多少傭錢？這就是沒有盡到自己的責任。現在有一句名言「向錢看」，就是向錢上看，那麼沒有看看自己的工作是怎麼樣；所以，他做工是到處受人歡迎。
Good Man Wang was named Shengyi, alias Fengyi. He was a native of Zhaoyang (Rising Sun) County in the Rehe (Hot River) Province in the late Qing Dynasty. Although he did not received a proper education, he understood the foundation for being a person. When he worked for others, he contemplated the two characters
gan huo (to work) and had an insight. Later on, a carbuncle sore grew on his waist and did not heal for twelve years. On one occasion, he realized his fault and repented to heaven. Soon afterwards his disease healed by itself without the use of any medicine. He mourned by his parents’ grave for three years, during which he was awakened to the principles of human nature. Since then he could eloquently explain the causes and conditions that lead to illnesses. He understood that the main cause that led to discords in a family was the misunderstanding between mother and daughter-in-law. The mother-in-law complains about the faults of the daughter-in-law, who in turn holds grudges against her. If one could treat one’s mother-in-law as one’s own mother and take one’s daughter-in-law to be one’s own daughter, the family would naturally get along harmoniously; all disputes would surely subside. Everyone thus called Wang “Good Man Wang.” Afterwards, Good Man Wang was entrusted by Mr. Jiang
Xizhang with the responsibilities to undertake the affairs of the Society of Virtues of All Nations, which was then renamed the Society of Virtues of the Manchu Nation [Note: 1932.3-1945, Japanese puppet regime in Northeast China].
The Society of Virtues established branches throughout Northeast China and founded more than 800 schools for girls. Good Man Wang advised the people to repent of their faults, to reform and turn over a new leaf. He also taught women that it was the duty of a wife to support her husband and teach her children, and encouraged them to be virtuous wives and kind mothers. It was said, “If a wife is virtuous, her husband would have little misfortune”. Good Man Wang left behind
The Record of Honest Deeds that was widely circulated in the country.
Everyone can be Yao or Shun. It only depends on whether you have the aspiration. If you aspire to be a sage or a worthy person, you will become sage or a worthy one; if you aspire to be a Buddha or a Bodhisattva, you will likewise become a Buddha or a Bodhisattva; if you aspire to be a loyal minister and a filial son, then you will become one as well. Today we are going to talk about this illiterate man. The Sixth Patriarch in China was also illiterate. Good Old Man Wang was illiterate, yet he was the most honest person; he was both genuine and dutiful. He was practical and down-to-earth for his entire life and lived without any hypocrisy. He was born in 1864, during the Guangxu Reign Period of the Qing Dynasty. He was from the Zhaoyang (Rising Sun) County in the Rehe (Hot River) Province. Folks from Zhaoyang County were the worst sort of people; they were the slyest and the most dishonest. Yet the place produced the best, the most honest, or one may say, the most foolish person, too. For his entire life, the Good Man Wang neither exploited opportunities nor resorted to dubious shifts to further his interest. He did everything earnestly and conscientiously without any trickery.
After he grew up, he worked for others as a farm laborer. His work was extremely well done. One time, he and his coworker who were common laborers shoveled the ground together. This common laborer earned, say, 40 dollars per day whereas Wang earned only 20 dollars per day. He then asked this laborer, “Is there any difference between your work and mine? Aren’t they the same?” The laborer said, “Yes, indeed. They are the same.” Wang said, “Do I do work as well as you do?” He said, “Yes.” So they shoveled the ground together again. Wang dug up the weeds with a shovel, leaving behind the seedlings. The laborer followed suit. Wang said, “The works that we do are equal: I neither work any less than you, nor is my work any worse than yours. Yet you get paid twice as much. Hmm…If we look at our accounts, I have made some deposits while you have lost your capital!” The laborer said, “How have I lost my capital and how have you made deposits?” Wang said, “I do the same work as you and yet I get less pay, so I have some deposits in my account. You do the same work as I and yet you get more pay, so you have overdrawn your account.” The laborer did not understand the principle Wang mentioned. Wang understood that since he did the same work as the laborer and was paid less, he had some credit remaining. He could have his peace of conscience. The other person was paid more for he was worth that much. However, he did not save the money but instead overdrew his account.
Just now we mentioned the two characters
gan huo (literally means to do, to live)—to work. It means we have to make our work come alive. It should not be the case that the more we work, the more dead we become; instead we should be livelier as we work more. Not only would our employer be well off, we ourselves would likewise be well off. How is it so? Our livelihood would be stable, and since we provided services to our employer, his life would be hassle-free. These are mutual benefits. How can we mutually benefit each other? We have to work. If we do not work, then there would not be any benefit. Good Man Wang understood that to
gan huo, to work, is to serve and benefit others. Since then, he did everything on a half voluntary basis. In addition to the half that he was supposed to fulfill, he offered much more than that. Therefore, no matter where he worked, everyone liked him. Ostensibly he was a fool who did not know how to count, who only knew to work without caring about the pay. He was unlike people nowadays. No matter what they do, whether they complete their work, they first request some commission. They calculate the reward beforehand: how much remuneration will I get? How much commission will I get? A person with this mindset will not be able to fulfill his responsibilities. There is a saying nowadays, “To look up to money”, to worship money without reflecting upon one’s own work. Good Man Wang was thus welcome wherever he worked.
Nevertheless, Wang had a tendency to blame heaven and bear grudges against men since he was born. He liked to find faults in others. He constantly thought that he himself was very honest and everyone else was not as honest as he was. Since he saw that everyone else was at fault, he felt some resentment towards others. His complaints and grudges made him uncomfortable, and as a result, his offense karma came to look for him. On his waist there grew a carbuncle sore which would never heal. On the sore no muscle would grow; instead it oozed pus and serum. Some may say, “He had outflows.” His family was poor and did not have the money to cure his disease. Therefore his sore did not heal. You see, his family was poor, and he still had to work even though he suffered this disease. He was indeed very unfortunate, like the saying, “A leaking roof on rainy nights; a hurried ship sailing against the wind.” The roof of the house is leaking, yet it rains all night. The ship is trying to sail faster, yet it was going against the wind so it could not move any faster.
Wang’s destiny caused him to be confused. He blamed his relatives and his friends. He blamed others for everything and always thought that others were no good. Therefore his karma took the opportunity to look for him, causing him to suffer the carbuncle sore. One day, he realized that he was not right. He thus ran outside, lit incense, and offered it to heaven, saying, “I saw that this family in the east was wrong, and that family in the west was also wrong. This neighbor was at fault, and that neighbor was likewise at fault. This relative was not doing the right thing, and that friend was not very proper. Everyone was inferior to me. I only looked at others’ faults and harbored resentment in my heart. This attitude was improper. I was wrong indeed!” So he cried his heart out and repented. As a result, after he returned, his sore healed. Then he knew that, “Any monstrous offence will be eradicated as soon as one repents.” To sincerely repent of one’s offense is a good way to heal one’s illness.
Since then, he felt that he had been unfilial to his parents and thus felt very guilty. He decided to mourn by his parents’ grave. Since he was illiterate and did not know enough to study the phenomena of nature, he instead studied the sutra of the world of men. He looked at the sutra of this person and that person, and studied all people. For example, he contemplated the scripture of mothers and daughters-in-law, the scripture of sisters-in-law, the scripture of brothers, the scripture of friends, that of relatives and so forth. By means of inferences, he gradually understood that people were invariably selfish and prejudiced. If people were not prejudiced, then there would not be any problem in this world. For example, in the relationship between a mother and a daughter-in-law, the mother-in-law usually complains about how the daughter-in-law did this and that wrong; even when she is filial to the mother-in-law, the mother-in-law does not appreciate it. The daughter-in-law in turn grumbles about how biased and unfair the mother-in-law is. They lack a mutual understanding and keep complaining about each other. Wang thought, “If the mother-in-law could treat the daughter-in-law as her own daughter, and the daughter-in-law could reciprocate and regard the mother-in-law as her own mother, there would not be any problem between them. Then this family would no longer have any disputes or conflicts.”
In such a way he contemplated family and society, and subsequently invented the concept of the Three Fundamentals: nature, mind and body, and the Four Kinds of Reckoning: will, intention, mind and body. He further explained the relationships among the Five Elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. For example, wood begets fire, fire begets earth, earth begets metal, and metal begets water, which in turn begets wood. They give rise to one another. Reciprocally, wood overcomes earth, earth overcomes water, water overcomes fire, and fire overcomes metal, which in turn overcomes wood. These five elements overcome one another in such pattern. He placed each of the five roles in a family—older and younger siblings, father, mother and grandparents—in a category according to the Five Elements. For example, a son who manages a family was placed in the wood category; his father was in the fire category. Fire begets earth, which in turn begets metal. Yet wood overcomes earth. They mutually beget and overcome one another. Wang studied this principle thoroughly. He then established the Society of Virtues that taught the principles governing family relations that were based on the Three Fundamentals, the Four Kinds of Reckoning and the Five Elements.
To be continued