In daily life, some people seem to have no education and skills, but they are very fortunate. On the other hand, some people work very hard to get rich, but always miss the opportunity, which reminds people of the saying: “Everything is written in your destiny, and you don’t have to persist in acquiring something you don’t possess.”
So can people change their fate? Our ancient ancestors have taught us: “Good deeds vary by fortune.” There are many real cases like this.
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‘Liaofan’s Four Lessons’
For example, Yuan Liaofan (A.D. 1533-1606) of the Ming Dynasty wrote his story about how he mastered his destiny in the book, Liaofan’s Four Lessons. This book had a vast and profound influence on China and is regarded as ancient China’s most significant pedagogical work.
In the late Qing Dynasty, Zeng Guofan (A.D. 1811-1872) made Liaofan’s Four Lessons the most respected book on life and wisdom and the first book younger generations must read.
Yuan Liaofan was a native of Wujiang, south of the Yangtze River, during the Ming Dynasty. Once, he met an old gentleman named Kong, who was well-versed in fortune telling, at Ciyun Temple.
Mr. Kong described Yuan’s past events; even the most minor things matched perfectly.
Mr. Kong also predicted Yuan’s fortune and misfortune for the rest of his life — the year Yuan would get third place in the imperial examination, the year he would be elected as a county executive of Sichuan Province, and after 3.5 years as an executive, he would resign and go back to his hometown. Then, at 53, he would die with no sons.
Yuan took note of all these words and kept them in his mind. From then on, whenever he came across the ranking of a test and the promotion of officials, he kept note of them.
Yuan Liaofan believed that when to live, when to die, when to be proud, and when to be frustrated were all destied. God determined everything, and there was no way to change it.
Changing your destiny
Later, Yuan met Zen Master Yungu. Under his guidance, Yuan realized that a person’s destiny could be changed. For example, a very good person, although he is doomed to suffer in his destiny, has done great good deeds, which can change him from suffering to happiness, from being poor and short-lived to being rich and long-lived.
Initially, a person is destined to enjoy good fortune. Still, if he does incredible evil things, he can turn a blessing into disaster and wealth and longevity into poverty and short life. Therefore, if you do evil, you will naturally lose your benefits, and if you do good deeds, you will naturally receive blessings.
After being awakened by Zen Master Yungu, Yuan began the path to change his fate. From then on, he was cautious all day long. Even though he was in a room alone, he was often afraid of offending the gods of Heaven and Earth. When he came across things that hated him or slandered him, he was able to accept them peacefully and did not argue with others.
The year after he met with Zen Master Yungu, Yuan went to take the imperial examination. According to Mr. Kong’s fortune telling, he should have the third place, but Yuan got first place. Mr. Kong’s words began to fail. Mr. Kong said that Yuan could pass the Juren examination.
But in the autumn township examination, Yuan won the first-degree scholar position in the Juren examination.
Yuan made a vow to do 3,000 good deeds. After more than 10 years of hard work, he finished the 3,000 good deeds, and his wife gave birth to a son named Tianqi, meaning apocalypse. Finally, after a few years, he was awarded the position of imperial scholar.
The Ministry of Justice filed Yuan for the vacancy of the executive of Baodi County. Then, Yuan made a wish to do 10,000 good deeds.
In this way, Yuan continued to do good deeds throughout his life. Mr. Kong predicted that he would die at 53, but he was still in good health at 69. So Yuan Liaofan wrote the book Liaofan’s Four Lessons about his physical efforts to change his fate and passed it to his son Tianqi and his descendants.