Good Stories from China: Extend One's Own Concerns onto Others

June 28, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: June 28, 2006 12:00 am

This story happened in the State of Qi during the Spring-Autumn period about 2,500 years ago. It was a cold winter, and snow had being falling for three days and three nights.

Duke Jing of the Qi state was enjoying the snow from inside his comfortable hall, wearing a fox-fur coat. Engrossed in the beautiful scenery outside, he was hoping it would snow a few more days.

Yan Ying, his advisor, came in. He looked at Duke Jing, and then at the falling snow flakes. Duke Jing marveled, “It's been snowing for three days and three nights, but it does not feel cold at all. Instead, it feels like spring!”

Seeing Duke Jing had wrapped himself snugly in his fur coat, Yan Ying asked intentionally, “Are you sure it is not cold?” Duke Jing nodded.

Yan Ying saw that Duke Jing did not understand why he had asked the question, he said straight-forwardly, “This is what I have heard about the sage kings of the ancient times: When eating their fill they would think of those who are hungry, when clothed warmly they would think of those who are cold, when being comfortable they would think of those who are suffering. How come you are not thinking of others?” Duke Jing fell silent with embarrassment, knowing he was wrong.

Being compassionate to others and extending one's own concerns onto others — this a virtue that has been promoted in the Chinese culture.