In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, there was a man called Zheng Xingr. He worked as a servant in the household of a court official in the capital city with the surname Wang. Zheng Xingr was very honest and diligent and his master also treated him quite well. One day, a well-known fortune-teller, Yuan Shangbao, came to Wang's house, and after he saw Zheng Xingr, said to Wang that it would bring him bad luck to keep Zheng Xingr in his household. With painful regret, Wang told his servant to leave his house and to seek a livelihood somewhere else. After Zheng Xingr left, things in Wang's household indeed became more peaceful.
Zheng Xingr had no place to stay after he left Wang's household, so he lived temporarily in an ancient temple. One day, when Zheng Xingr came back to the temple, he saw a parcel hanging on the wall. He opened it and found more than twenty liang (a measurement unit of silver) of silver inside. Just as he was about to celebrate the unexpected fortune, he thought, "I'm decreed by fate to be poor. I sought refuge with the Wang family, but was driven out because I would bring bad luck to the household. How could I have the good luck to enjoy this good fortune? Also, the owner of the the silver might have needed it for some emergency use and might have left it here by accident. This silver may have a bearing on several lives. Even though nobody would know, if I take it, it could be something that damages my virtue. I'd better wait here, so that if someone comes back to look for it, I will give them back." Having had these thoughts, he just waited there for the owner.
It was not until the next day that a man who looked upset came looking for the silver. Zheng Xingr asked him a few questions and knew that the silver indeed belonged to the man, so he returned it to him. It turned out that the man was the housekeeper of General Zheng in the prefecture of Hejian. He had received orders to handle something in the capital city, but lost the silver by accident. The housekeeper insisted on giving half of the silver to Zheng Xingr, but the latter said, "If I had been after your silver, I would have taken the lot last night instead of sleeping on a smelly bed board for the night. Do not betray my conscience." From talking with Zheng Xingr, the housekeeper learned about the misery he had been experiencing. Seeing that he was a man with such high morals, the housekeeper invited him to go back to General Zheng's household with him, in the hope that he might be able to find some work there. As Zheng Xingr had nowhere else to go, he went with the housekeeper.
After General Zheng heard what had happened, he was very pleased. Impressed with Zheng Xingr's virtue and seeing that Zheng Xingr was very honest and had a big heart, he wanted to adopt him as his son since he did not have any children of his own. In the beginning, Zheng Xingr refused as he did not want to claim kinship with someone of high social status. General Zheng said to him, "Your virtues are truly above our ancestors. If I give you money as reward, you would not accept it, as you treat morals as being more important than money. And if I do not reward you, I would be seen as being ungrateful.
Furthermore, we share the same surname, and this is indeed a predestined relationship bestowed upon us by heaven. I'm worried that my place may not even be good enough for you, so why are you still treating yourself as an outsider?" Feeling that it would ungracious to refuse such kindness, Zheng Xingr agreed.
Having grown up in the North, Zheng Xingr had learned archery and how to ride horses when he was young. With the help of General Zheng, he was promoted to a respectable rank in the military service. One year, he accompanied General Zheng to the capital city. He felt quite nostalgic when he saw those familiar scenes. Feeling grateful for the kindness Wang had shown him when he served in his household, he decided to pay him a visit. Zheng Xingr changed into plain clothes and went to Wang's house. He still addressed Wang in the same way as when he was his servant and followed the rituals from the old days. Wang was very surprised that the visitor was Zheng Xingr and felt very embarrassed and ashamed when he recalled what had happened in the past. Both of them laughed at the fortune-teller, saying that he was famous only in name.
When the two were about to have dinner, a servant came to report that the fortune-teller, Yuan Shangbao, had come for a visit. Wang and Zheng Xingr decided to play a joke on him, so Zheng Xingr put on his old clothes. When Yuan Shangbao came in, he respectfully brought him a cup of tea. When Yuan Shangbao saw him, he was very surprised and asked who this person was that was serving him tea. Wang said he was none other than Zheng Xingr who had been driven out from his house years ago, and because he had no place to stay, had come back again. Upon hearing this, Yuan Shangbao laughed and said, "Why are you lying to me? Let's not talk about the future of this man, for right now he is a military officer wearing gold bands. He is not at all a servant in your household." Wang asked him, "In the past, you said he would bring us bad luck and involve my family members." Yuan Shangbao replied, "I did not make a mistake then, and I am not mistaken now. This gentleman's face is full of the wrinkles of virtue. He has either saved someone's life or returned something of value to its rightful owner. His bone physiognomy has already changed. It seems that he has done good deeds for others and has been rewarded for his good deeds, and this is the reason why he has become an illustrious person of high position."
When Zheng Xingr heard these words, he could not help but say, "You are truly a great seer!" He then described what had happened in the ancient temple, and everyone suddenly realized that the reason there was such a big change in Zheng Xingr's fate was because he was unselfish and had no greed, and he was rewarded with good because he returned the silver and accumulated virtue. Zheng Xingr later became a general and his children and grandchildren also benefited from his virtue. This is a good example that validates the old saying: Good will be rewarded with good.
Through doing good deeds and accumulating virtue, one's fate can change to a certain extent, because people who respect heaven and the gods understand the principle that "disasters and good fortunes do not have gates, and are called upon by people themselves." People doing good deeds will be rewarded with good, and those doing evil deeds will be met with evil. All these are decided by human beings themselves. Didn't Zheng Xingr's fate change simply because of a kind thought? Of course, if people insist on doing evil deeds, their fate will also change accordingly.
As human beings, how can we not do more good deeds and accumulate virtue? One must understand that heaven has never treated anyone unfairly.