The Rewards of Helping a Person in Dire Straits
The Rewards of Helping a Person in Dire Straits
Liu Hongyi lived in Pengcheng (currently called the Xuzhou area) during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). His family had lived in the area between the Huai and Fei Rivers for generations. They were very rich, and they often demonstrated virtuous generosity, without seeking repayment from those whom they helped. They held no resentments in their hearts and led anonymous lives.
One day a fortune-teller saw Liu Hongyi on the road and sighed, “Hi! Sir, please stop. I have something to tell you.” Liu then invited this fortune-teller to his home. The fortune-teller said, “You have an abundance of wealth, but you have only two to three more years left. What will you do now?”
Liu said with tears in his eyes, “A person’s life is predetermined by heaven. How can you help me, Sir?” The fortune-teller said, “Having a pleasing appearance is not as important as having good moral character. Having good moral character is not as important as having forbearance. Although your lifespan is not long, you have accumulated a lot of virtue. In terms of forbearance, you are especially tolerant and forgiving. In your remaining two or three years, you should seize the time to cultivate your virtue diligently, and then you might possibly extend your lifespan. One bit of virtue can eliminate a hundred mishaps and you can also enjoy a life of being a high-ranking official. There is no need for you to be worried that you cannot extend your life. You should try your best to accumulate virtue. Let’s meet again in three years.” After saying these words, the fortune-teller walked out and left. Liu bade farewell with tears in his eyes.
That year, Liu planned to get his daughter married. He bought four female slaves as his daughter’s dowry. Among the slaves, one was called Fang Lansun. She was very beautiful, elegant and did not seem to come from a low-class family. Liu asked her about her family situation. Fang replied, “I initially dared not to say anything about myself. My family was of high-class and well-known for generations. My father was an official in the Huaixi area. Unfortunately, he got mixed up in the rebellion of Wu’s bandits. He was framed by bad people in the Imperial Government. My parents were then horribly murdered and my family's possessions were all confiscated. Ever since then, I have been a low-class person. I could find no place to appeal. All the other family members were arrested by the Imperial Army after the rebellion was suppressed, and their whereabouts are still unknown.” Liu Hongyi sighed, “The misery your family suffered would make even a small child feel angry, not to mention a grown man! If I cannot redress the injustice done to you, the gods should kill me!”
Liu immediately burned the document that made Fang Lansun a slave, and took her as a niece. He spent a lot of money to have Lansun married to a dependable young man before his own daughter got married. Lansun had a blessed life after her marriage. Liu undertook many efforts to have Lansun’s family’s case re-opened and eventually her family's good reputation was restored.
Not long after, Liu Hongyi had a dream in which a person dressed in a purple garment, holding an ivory letter slip bowed to Liu. This person said, “I am Lansun’s father. I made a petition to the God of Heaven and fortunately got approval that your life will be prolonged for 25 more years and that the blessings will be extended to three generations of your descendants. Those who brought disaster to my family will all be put on trial. Among them, those who are still living will experience karmic retribution, while those who have died will be sent to hell for punishment. Furthermore, their descendants will also suffer. The God of Heaven has blessed me for the injustice I have suffered, and He appointed me to govern the mountains and rivers of the Huaihai area.” After speaking, he bowed again and then left.
Three years later, the fortune-teller returned as promised. He carefully looked at Liu Hongyi and then congratulated him, “Your life has been extended. This is a reflection of the fact that your accumulating bountiful virtue has moved the God of Heaven. You will live 25 more years. Your descendants will also be blessed for three generations to come.” Liu then told the fortune-teller about the incident with Fang Lansun and her father. The fortune-teller sighed, “family had no other children left and she had already become a slave. But you did not take advantage of the beautiful girl. Instead, you spent a lot of money to take care of a homeless girl and had her family’s injustice redressed. Isn’t this accumulation of a great deal of virtue!”