Ancient Tales of Wisdom: Confucius Discusses the Fate of a Nation

TIMEJanuary 16, 2022

Ancient tales of wisdom remind us of the traditions and moral values that have been treasured all over the world. We hope the stories and messages in our Tales of Wisdom series help uplift the hearts and minds of our readers.

This retold tale is one of many audio stories from the discontinued “Ancient Tales of Wisdom” program by the Sound of Hope Radio Network, now transcribed and printed here for the enjoyment of our readers.

Listen to the audio story, or read it below, and be transported into another world!

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King Lu Ai Gong asked Confucius, “Is it true that the fate of a nation is determined by heaven and not just the actions of men?”

Confucius answered, “The fate of your country will depend on your own actions. Special phenomena cannot alone change the fate of your nation.”

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Statue of Confucius. (aphotostory/Shutterstock)

The king said, “Okay. Could you please provide some facts regarding to this statement?”

Confucius said: “During King Zhou’s period of the Shang Dynasty, near the city wall of the capital, there was a little bird that gave birth to a big bird. The king consulted a soothsayer about it. The soothsayer said, ‘Whenever a small thing gives birth to a big thing, it means that the nation will unify the land and the nation shall become more and more prosperous.’

“The king thus became very complacent. He thought that he could just depend on the omen. He stopped working hard in ruling his country and became extremely brutal toward his officials and the people. None of the officials in the imperial court were able to stop him. In the end, outside enemies attacked their country and overthrew the Shang Dynasty. This is an example of a good omen that brought disaster, the reason being that the king gave up good actions and disobeyed the law of heaven.

Epoch Times Photo
King Zhou of Shang. (Public Domain)

“In comparison, during the time of King Zhou’s ancestor King Tai Wu, the morality in society was very bad, and the laws of the nation were very chaotic. This had caused the growth of an abnormal plant, which grew inside the imperial compound. It grew very quickly. Within seven days, it was large enough for two people to embrace it. The king consulted a soothsayer, and the soothsayer said, ‘This type of wild plant should not grow inside the imperial compound, but now it does. It means that the nation is about to come to an end.’

“King Tai Wu was very scared. He began to watch his actions carefully and he also thought about how the earlier kings ruled the nation correctly and cared about the people. Within three years, many kings of other countries heard about King Tai Wu’s great virtue and as many as 16 kings had sent their messengers to visit and pay their respects to the Shang Dynasty. This is an example of giving up bad actions, and as a result, the supposedly bad omen had turned good.

“Therefore, when heaven makes special phenomena and disasters appear, it is heaven’s warning to rulers; when the officials dream about strange and meaningful stories, it is heaven’s warning to the officials. Disasters and strange phenomena will not defeat the good policies and good decrees of a nation; dreams will not defeat high morals and great virtues. If one can do things like this—giving up bad actions and following good actions—this would be the best way of governing a country. Only the wise kings are able to do so.”

King Lu Ai Gong said, “Your teaching will serve precisely to correct my ignorance. It is so wonderful to hear your teachings!”

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Confucius with his student. (Illustration – YANGCHAO/Shutterstock)

King Tai Wu gave up bad actions and became honest, and his country began to flourish, whereas King Zhou gave up good actions and became evil, and his country was destroyed. The reflection in today’s world is the present leadership in China, the Chinese Communist regime, notorious for its human rights atrocities and unscrupulous methods of ruling the country. It is in dire straits, with its failed attempts to settle the massive and crippling unrest throughout China, with the Chinese people more than ever desperately unhappy and rebelling against the treachery toward them. With an uplifting of the Chinese leadership’s methods of rule and its overall moral nature as a whole, requiring a move away from communism, there could be a gradual settling of the people, and harmony would then naturally blossom in China, and beyond.

This retold tale is transcribed and printed with permission from the Sound of Hope Radio Network, It was originally published by and authored by Lu Wen. Audio by Sound of Hope Radio Network. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

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