The Selfless Realm of Fan Zhongyan (Part 2 of 2)

Fan Zhongyan was "concerned about the emperor when being in a remote place." When he was asked to return home, he was deeply concerned about state affairs and wrote a 10,000-word letter to the imperial court, “About Administration." In the letter, he suggested many approaches to improve governance of the area, such as "selecting good governors, eradicating laziness and redundancy, being cautious about elections, focusing on education, selecting the generals properly, keeping the honest officials who dare to speak out, and criticizing the sinister and sycophant officers."

Fan Zhongyan was "concern-ed about the people who were in high positions at court." When he was the Deputy Imperial Censor, there was a great drought followed by a locust plague in the area east of the capital city and in the Jianghuai region. Fan asked Emperor Song Renzong (1010 – 1063 AD, reigning from 1022 – 1063) to send officials to bring aid to the area. However, the emperor did not pay much attention. Fan asked Emperor Renzong, "What would you do if there was no food in your palace for even half a day?" Emperor Renzong felt ashamed and sent Fan to manage the relief work. Wherever he went in the disaster area, Fan opened the granary reserves to feed the stricken people. He also requested to waive or reduce taxes for those impacted. He brought back to the capital city the wild grass that people had been eating to stave off hunger. Fan asked the emperor to show it to all the officials and royals in the palace to remember the hardships that the people endured and henceforward be less extravagant and wasteful.

Fan focused on the welfare of his country whether he held a top position or was in a demoted role. When he was prime minister, he admonished the emperor, appointed officials based on their merits, punished corrupt officials, and did things for the public good. When he was demoted to local areas as a minor official, he still managed to benefit the people during his term. For example, he was once the supervisor of the salt storehouse in Hailing County, Taizhou City. He saw that the dam had not been maintained for many years and was in very bad shape. The seawater had flooded a great deal of the farmland, and thousands of people had to abandon their homes. He wrote to the emperor immediately, asking for the dam to be repaired. His request was approved. Fan was then appointed Governor of Xinghua County to oversee the dam repair. Fan led the building of a dam along the east coast to hold back the seawater, protect people's property, and allow people to return to their homes and land. In recognition of Governor Fan's achievements, the people called the sea dam "Mr. Fan's Dam." Many of the disaster victims in Xinghua County even changed their surnames to Fan.

Fan Zhongyan lived by the principle of "no deception."When  Jia An (1022 – 1065 AD), who scored the highest in the recent national-level imperial civil service examinations, visited Fan for advice on self-improvement and governing the nation, Fan told him, "For a person to be free from worry and pretension, the words 'no deception' can apply to one’s actions throughout life." Jia An later became the imperial minister. He was very fair and just and dared to speak out. "No deception" means being open, upright, and honorable. "No deception" is to not deceive the emperor, the public, or one's own conscience. Fan Zhongyan strictly followed the "no deception" principle his entire life. He applied it to his official duties, personal business, and his family.

Fan was very kind and helpful to others. He recognized and promoted many talented people that had wisdom and virtue. Whenever he became a local official, he governed benevolently and kept people at peace. The local culture and moral standards were greatly influenced by his actions. People started paying attention to their reputation and morality and felt that it was shameful to pursue money or personal interests. Everyone was conscious about decency and shame. No one dared to do bad things.

Thinking about the welfare of the country and people, Fan Zhongyan's principle of "Be concerned before the world starts worrying, be satisfied only after the world is content," has influenced millions of people. This principle has been demonstrated by many people of purpose, virtue and honor throughout history.

的境界与胸怀 (下)




    来源: 看中国 责编: Kitt

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