Martial Morality (Wude) (Part 3 of 5) - Righteousness

By Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang and Master Wen-Ching Wu

Morality of Deed: Righteousness (Zheng Yi)

Righteousness is a way of life. Righteousness means that if there is something you should do, you don't hesitateto take care of it, and if there is something that you should not do, you don't get involved with it. Your wisdom mind should be the leader, not your emotional mind. If you can do this, then you will feel clear spiritually, and avoid being plagued by feelings of guilt. If you can demonstrate this kind of personality, you will be able to avoid evil influences, and you will earn the trust of others.

In the period of the Warring States (475 - 222 B.C.), the two neighboring states of Zhao and Qin wereoften fighting against each other. In Zhao's court, there were two capable and talented officers - a military commander named Lian Po, and a civilian official named Lin Xiang-Ru. Because of these two men, the state of Qin dared not launch a full-scale invasion against Zhao.

Originally, Lin Xiang-Ru's position was far lower than that of General Lian Po. But later on, when Lin Xiang-Ru was assigned as an ambassador to Qin, he won a diplomatic victory for the Zhao. This led to Zhao king to assign him to more important positions, and before too long his rank climbed higher than Lian Po's. Lian Po was very unhappy, and unwilling to accept this. He kept telling his subordinates that he would find an opportunity to humiliate Lin Xiang-Ru.

When Lin Xiang-Ru heard of this, he avoided meeting Lian Po face to face at any occasion. One day, some of Lin Xiang-Ru's officers came to see him and said, "General Lian Po has only talked about what he intends to do, yet you have already become so afraid. We feel very humiliated and would like to resign."

Lin Xiang-Ru then asked them, "If you were to compare General Lian Po and Qin's King, who would be more prestigious?"

"Of course General Lian Po cannot compare with the King of Qin!" they replied.

"Right!" he exclaimed. "And when I was an ambassador to Qin I had the courage to denounce the King of Qin rightto his face. Thus, I have no fear of General Lian Po! The State of Qin dares not attack Zhao because of General Lian Po and myself. If the two of us are at odds with each other, Qin will take advantage of this opportunity to invade us. The interests of this country come first with me, and I am not going to haggle with Lian Po because of personal hostilities!"

Later, when Lian Po heard of this, he felt extremely ashamed. He tore off his shirt, and with a birch rod tied to his back, he went to Lin Xiang-Ru's home to request retribution for his own false dignity. Lin Xiang-Ru modestly helped Lian Po up from the ground and held his hand firmly. From that time on, Lian Po and Lin Xiang-Ru became close friends and served their country with the same heart.

There is another tale of events that happened during the Chinese Spring and Autumn Period (722 - 481 B.C.). In the state of Jin, there was a high-ranking official name Qi Xi. When he was old and ready to retire, Duke Dao of Jin asked him to recommend a candidate to replace himself. Qi Xi said, "Xie Hu is an excellent man who is most suitable to replace me."

Duke Dao was very curious and said, "Isn't Xie Hu your political enemy? Why do you recommend him?"

"You asked me who I thought was most suitable and most trustworthy for the job. Therefore, I recommendedwho I thought was best for this position. You did not ask me who was my enemy," Qi Xi replied.

Unfortunately, before Duke Dao could assign Xie Hu the new position, Xie Hu died. Duke Dao couldonlyask Qi Xi torecommend another person. Qi Xi said, "Now that Xie Hu is dead, the only person who can take my place is Qi Wu."

Duke Dao was again very curious and said, "Isn't Qi Wu your son? Aren't you afraid that there may begossip?"

"You asked me only who was the most suitable for the position, and did not ask if Qi Wu was my son. I only replied with who was the best choice as a replacement."

As Qi Xi predicted, his Qi Wu was able to contribute greatly. People believed that only a virtuous man like Qi Xicould recommend a really talented man. He would neither praise an enemy to flatter him, nor would he promote his own son out of selfishness. Instead, both his actions and his greatness emanated only from his sense of truth.