The Consequences of Jealousy (Part 2)
Treacherous Official Li Linfu is Struck by Lightning
The treacherous minister Li Linfu of the Tang Dynasty was a very jealous man. If any minister was more capable than he was, or if any official caught the eye of Emperor Xuanzong, Li would make every attempt to eliminate them. On the surface, Li would associate with the target using sugarcoated conversations, but scheme behind their back. Contemporaries called Li, “one with a mouth of honey and a stomach of blades.” Li Linfu forced other loyal prime ministers at the time, including Zhang Jiuling, Pei Yaoqing, and Li Shi, out of their positions. To consolidate his power and influence, he strived to censor free speech, framed upright people, conducted numerous large-scale arrests and eliminated dissidents.
One time, Emperor Xuanzong was looking afar from behind the curtain of the Qinzheng (“diligent government”) Building. An officer of the Ministry of Defense, Lu Xuan, passed underneath the building on horseback. The emperor made a few passing compliments of Lu’s demeanor. When Li Linfu heard about this the next day, he demoted Lu to be the governor of Huazhou. Not long after Lu assumed the position, he was accused to be of poor health therefore he was unfit for the position. Lu was demoted again.
Li Linfu was a prime minister for 19 years. Capable and loyal ministers were eliminated one by one, by either death or demotion. At the same time, those sly people who curried his favor were promoted one after another. Li Linfu monopolized his power to ruin the country and harm the people. The prosperous times of the Kaiyuan Era were lost. Next came the An Lushan rebellion, which devastated the Tang Dynasty. After Li Linfu died, the common folk finally could relax and truthfully claim that “death cannot wipe out the crimes committed by Li.” Many people reported Li’s attempt at rebellion. Emperor Xuanzong finally recognized Li’s true form and began to reduce his impact, confiscate his wealth, and exiled his relatives. At the end, Li Linfu’s reputation was swept away and his family was left destitute.
According to Tai Shang Gan Ying Pian Li Zheng
, (Examples of Supernormal Phenomena
, a book about maintaining mortality), in 1174 AD during the Song Dynasty, a woman in Hanzhou was struck by lightning. The woman’s body had red words that wrote, “Li Linfu was a disloyal minister. He is destined to reincarnate as a prostitute for three lives, a cow for seven lives. After these karmic retributions, he will forever be an aquatic life.”
How Can a Man Outsmart Heaven?
In the book Examples of Supernormal Phenomena, Su Dazhang, who passed the first level of imperial examinations, was about to participate in the second level examinations. Su, who lived in the Song Dynasty, was known in the townships for his superb understanding of the I Ching
, or Book of Changes
. One night he dreamed that he was ranked No. 11 in the upcoming exam. He told his dream to a fellow student that studied I Ching
. This student, who was also taking the same examination, was quite jealous that he did not have such an auspicious dream himself when he had much better knowledge than Su. He went to report to the official overseeing the examination, claiming that Su must have bribed one of the officials reviewing the exam papers, otherwise, how could Su be so certain he was to be ranked No. 11?
After all the students' papers were graded, the official in charge pulled out the paper that was ranked No. 11. As was the convention at that time, the students' names were covered up on the papers they turned in. The official in charge became angry after reading the paper. The paper discussed the I Ching
, which was Su's specialty. He interrogated the officials who had graded the paper, “Now how can you explain this? Did any of you take bribes from Su, the I Ching
expert, who was so confident that he would end up with a rank of No. 11?” All the officials were quite dumbfounded. They had to come up with another paper from the remaining candidates to replace this I Ching
Finally, on the day the results were announced, when all the candidates' names were uncovered, to the astonishment of the official in charge, the newly selected paper that now ranked No. 11 was Su's, while the jealous student who had made up lies to frame Su for bribery had been swapped out from his original 11th position. As a result, Su passed this second level of imperial examinations. The following year, Su passed the third and final level of the imperial examinations, while his fellow student who had made up false charges against him ended up humiliated and passed away. People reminded each other that the Heavenly law was fair and retribution was just.
Jealousy is a negative emotion caused by not accepting the fact that others can exceed us in the quality of their character, skills, achievements, or situations. When one badmouths others or does things to hurt others out of jealousy, this demonstrates a lack of kindness in one's heart. This also creates karma for oneself, which will result in retribution. To be respectful and compassionate is a basic principle. When others accomplish things, we are glad for them. When others exceed us, we learn from them. When others need help, we do our best to help them. To truly treat others kindly so they can feel we are sincere, we have to be generous, which is the opposite of being jealous.