The ancients left this saying to future generations: “The greatest joy is to do good.” The following story shows how those who do good will prosper, while those who act selfishly will fall. According to Qian Yong, the author of the Qing Dynasty’s The Garden of Daoism, doing good deeds is like accumulating wealth that will be accumulated over a long period of time.
Chen Zongluo reopens the orphanage
During the Qing Dynasty, there was a scholar in Taoyuan County named Chen Zongluo who was a charitable man, but his family was extremely poor. There was an old nursery in his hometown for orphans, but it had been abandoned for a long time due to a lack of funds. Chen Zongluo wanted to collect donations and materials to reopen the house, so he started to solicit donations.
One day, he went to a wealthy man in his village who was very selfish. Not only did the man refuse to help, but he also cursed Chen, saying: “You are just a poor shabby scholar, I don’t even think you have the ability to do such a big thing. I didn’t steal to get my money, so I won’t give it to you to do something that is useless!”
Chen went home and gathered his family together and told them: “I cannot carry out my plans alone, and I hope that all of you — my wife, children, brothers, and nephews — will understand my wish and work with me to set up this nursery.” They all agreed with his vision and dream, so they were willing to cooperate.
The pledge of the orphanage
Chen Zongluo then detailed his plan for the orphanage. “From now on, all the men and women of our family will keep this vow for generations to come. Whenever they see an abandoned child, they must take the baby in and give it to the nursing mothers. If the maids have too many children to feed, then give the baby to others who can feed them with rice flour and honey cakes.
“When a child reaches the age of two or three, if a poor family is willing to take the child in, they can be given to them if the parents are faithful and generous. When the child is adopted, Chen must be added to the child’s family name. When an adopted girl grows up, she will be given the responsibility of raising abandoned babies and will be given milk to raise them. In this way, our work will continue to expand to save more abandoned babies.”
Chen’s 90th birthday
By the time Chen celebrated his 90th birthday, he had a wealthy family of children and grandchildren. Over the years, all the “Chens” that had been cared for at his orphanage came to celebrate his birthday just as though they were his relatives. There were 176 people in total.
At the banquet, Chen Zongluo said joyfully: “Ancient people say that good deeds bring the greatest joy. Other people like to take in daughters and sons, but I don’t know how they compare to us, the ‘Chen Clan.’ It’s a pity that the rich man who looked down on me so long ago died more than 30 years ago. I would like to thank him. Because of his humiliation, I became determined to put all my efforts into doing this.”
The wealthy man’s fate
A guest asked: “The rich man who scolded you in the past was a prudent man who guarded his wealth, but what about his descendants today? Did they still remain rich?”
Chen Zongluo replied: “It is sad to say that when he was in his fifties, all three of his sons died. There were lawsuits and stealing from within his family. After all the money he had, he lost it all. One year, when I was teaching at a private school in Luluo Shan, he asked for a job at the school. I had no grudge against him, so I took him in. In the end, he was unwilling to live under the same roof as me and left on his own after ten months. Later, he was seen begging for food in the streets.”
The guest added: “If he had been willing to help others, he would not have ended up in such a miserable situation.” Chen Zongluo nodded his head and said: “That’s right. Heaven gives people wealth so that they can do good deeds in accordance with heaven’s will.”
The guest replied: “I wish everyone would understand this and try to follow your example. You were poor but not discouraged by your fate. You were mentally wealthy and able to make your own success. The man who was rich but selfish ended up homeless.”
Translated by Eva