When the Occasion Calls For Doing Good, Do Not Hesitate
An ancient saying goes, "To do good, it is necessary to be unremitting and persistent. Big starts from small; millions accrues from one; a nine-story tall tower is built from the ground up; and journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." When there is something benevolent to do, do it right away, do it earnestly, and keep at it.
For example, Northern Song Dynasty's Han Qi (1008 – 1075 AD), a person of noble character and high prestige, was always very kind. When he encountered something kind that needed to be done, he always tried his best to do it. When he heard that others were doing charitable deeds, he praised them and spread the news, and told people that he was inferior to them. People asked him why. He responded, "A heart of compassion is most precious. Praising those who do good will encourage them to try harder in the future and inspire others that hear about it. It can also make those who erred to be ashamed and reform themselves. So it is very important to promote doing good deeds." He often read and promoted books of the saints and sages, "These books can guide people to become righteous gentlemen!" Han Qi later became a virtuous prime minister and was appointed the Duke of Wei. He had all the good fortunes in life and his future generations all received appointments to the imperial court until the end of the South Song Dynasty in 1279. Everyone believed that he was rewarded for all the good deeds he had done.
Some people evidently see good deeds and refuse to do them, thus missing opportunities. For example, at the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the Duke Huangong of Qi (? – 643 BC) passed the ruins of a clan surnamed Guo. He asked a local elder, "How did Guo's family decline and perish?" The elder replied, "They declined because they did not do good deeds when they encountered them." The duke asked, "How so?" The elder said, "The Guo family liked good deeds, but they did not do any. They detested bad deeds, but they did not refrain from performing them. That's why they weakened and collapsed."
Another example is Yao Haowen in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD). When he served as a county magistrate, he was very prudent and incorruptible. But he did not have a strong will and was easily swayed by others. Once in late spring, it rained for over forty days in a row, and Yao went to each village to survey the damage. He saw that several hundred acres of farmland in West Village were flooded, while the wheat crops in other villages were unscathed. He wanted to declare West Village a disaster area, but the accompanying official said, "Other villages in our county are all doing fine. Although West Village is flooded now, they can plant other crops once the water recedes. If we submit a report as a separate case, people may ask questions and scrutinize it." Yao knew that the official's thoughts were selfish, but he did not want to cause trouble, so he hid the truth and did not report the losses. As a result, West Village was subject to the same amount of taxes as villages that had bumper harvests.
Yao once wanted to build schools to provide free schooling for the poor and to build a help center for the needy, but both were rejected by the local officials. He was in his 50s, but he had no child. His mother and wife both were often ill, and the family was quite anxious. One day his mother fainted due to some illness. When she came to, she told Yao, "I met an official in the nether world. He said, 'You are a prudent and incorruptible person and should have been blessed with a child. But every time you encounter a chance to do good deeds and know very well you need to do them, you are often stopped by what others say. Take the flood disaster for example, how could you hide the truth and not report it? Your hiding the truth caused the stricken people to have to sell their sons and daughters to pay the grain taxes. Your sin was enormous and hence your tribulations.' The official also said, 'An ignorant person can be forgiven, because he just does not know any better. Those who know but refuse to do good deeds are the ones loathed by Heaven the most. You can tell your son that if he desires blessings, he needs to work hard at doing good deeds, not be afraid of difficulties, and not be lazy. He cannot think about wanting to do a kind deed initially and then change his mind. If you work hard doing good deeds for a period of time, you can obtain good fortune to offset the sin that you committed when you concealed the truth during the flood disaster.'" Although Yao paid attention to his mother's lecture, he still got confused whenever the service clerks made slanderous remarks, and he repeated his old pattern, unable to snap out of it. In the end he was fired from his position and his family began to deteriorate.
If one identify something charitable to do, one needs to go all out and do it. By correcting one's past wrongs, one can offset the losses, eliminate karma, and improve one's fortune. If one keeps procrastinating and does not accept advice, or one cannot truly control oneself, one will create karma. It will be too late for regrets later.