As parents, we like to see our children grow up to become someone that we can be proud of — a person with a good character, a successful job, a loving spouse, and beautiful children. However, in an effort to achieve our goals, we may inadvertently burden our children with flaws of our own making. Here is a story that reflects this situation.
During the Warring States period, there was an official named Jiang Yuan from the state of Song. He had 10 sons, which should have been the envy of any parent; however, all his sons had some sort of physical ailment.
One of his friends, who was very concerned about Jiang Yuan’s situation, asked him: “Did you do something early in your life to cause such afflictions?”
Jiang thought about it and said:
“I have never intentionally hurt anyone! However, I am very jealous of others.”
“If I learn of someone who is capable, I am jealous of their talent. If someone flatters me, I like them. If I hear that someone has done a good deed, I don’t believe it and believe that they are a phony. If I learn that someone did something wrong, I believe it without a doubt. If I hear that someone gained something, I feel that I have just lost something. If I hear that someone has lost something, I am happy and feel as if I have just gained something.”
“That is how I feel about people everyday.”
His friend said:
“Your thoughts are not righteous! With such a jealous heart, I am afraid that a disaster will befall you. Your 10 sons are afflicted with various physical ailments, and you don’t believe that it is a warning?
“People from ancient times knew that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished.”
Jiang Yuan was very concerned after hearing his friend’s remarks and asked him to help him change his ways. His friend replied:
“Gods knows your every notion and thought. If you really want to change your behavior, be kind and do good deeds, and you can change your fate.”
Jiang followed his friend’s advice and was kind and compassionate toward others, and recommended people with good qualities to serve the state of Song.
Slowly, his sons regained their health.