Let one drop of kindness be repaid with a fountain of reward, said the ancient Chinese. Many of them meant it.
According to the teachings of Confucius, one must not only repay kindness but also do so generously. In the Rules for Students, a rhyming text typically memorized by children, it is said: “Repay kindness, forget grudges; Settle grudges quickly, reciprocate kindness gratuitously.”
Lessons of gratitude have been frequently passed down in Chinese history and folklore, as exemplified by the stories of three ancient statesmen.
Han Xin: Great Forbearance and Superior Integrity
Over 2,000 years ago, about 200 years before Jesus’ time, there was a great general called Han Xin who played an instrumental role in the rise of the Han Dynasty. In his youth, Han Xin was destitute and suffered many hardships that steeled his heroic character.
One time, a very hungry Han Xin was at a river, trying his hand at fishing. Several women were there washing clothes, and most ignored the impoverished youth. One, however, took pity on Han Xin and offered him some food.
After taking his meal, Han Xin said, “Madam, I shall repay you in full.”
The lady was skeptical: “Young man, you can’t even feed yourself. I fed you out of pity, don’t think about repaying me.”
Han Xin practiced martial arts and carried a sword. On one occasion, while walking in the streets, Han Xin encountered a hooligan who blocked his path.
Looking for a fight, the hooligan demanded that Han Xin crawl between his legs before continuing, or be prepared to use his blade. Back then, to crawl between another’s legs was an incredibly humiliating act, especially for a warrior.
It would have been easy enough for Han Xin to lop off the ruffian’s head and be on his way, but he decided against it. As the man jeered at him, he got down and subjected himself to the humiliation, then left as though nothing had happened.
The years passed and Han Xin rose to greatness, defeating the enemies of the Han and making possible the establishment of a glorious dynasty that would give modern Chinese the name of their script and ethnicity.
True to his word, Han Xin sought out the washerwoman, by now an old lady, who had once fed him. He gave her a handsome sum of gold taels, which she accepted only on his insistence.
Han Xin knew that the bully’s act of humiliation, as well as the woman’s act of kindness, had contributed to his personal growth, so Han Xin sought him out. He bestowed a moderate reward upon the man, who, seeing the general’s magnanimity, learned his lesson and thanked him greatly.
Seeing that the boy he once bullied had become such a distinguished personality, the man prostrated himself before Han Xin and begged for forgiveness.
For the rest of the stories, here is the link to the original article by Leo Timm on The Epoch Times.