Feb 27, 2024
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6 mins read

In a Time of Universal Deceit, Truthfulness Is the World’s Most Valuable Resource

In a Time of Universal Deceit, Truthfulness Is the World’s Most Valuable Resource

Original article can be found at https://nspirement.com/2024/02/26/truthfulness-most-valuable-resource.html

Living a life based on the principles of integrity and truthfulness, that is, being honest and not telling lies, should be the norm for a stable society.

The perils for all humanity in a world smothered in universal deceit

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” The author of this gem is unknown, but that insight was never more apt than in today’s world. In this era, truthfulness has become a rare event in public discourse, with ever-increasing attacks on free speech, censorship, curtailment of movement, and outright lies by government leaders and politicians. More often than not, it is readily tagged as debunked, misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech without any balance, rationality, or due process.

Foundation of a noble life and a healthy nation

The ancients regarded the quality of truthfulness as the foundation for establishing a noble life and a healthy nation. Being honest, without greedy intentions, forgiving, generous, magnanimous, fearing God, and respecting Buddha, doing only good deeds is the style of a true man and a true woman. Suppose we follow this path both in an official capacity and in person. In that case, we will accumulate virtue and enjoy blessings. Doing good deeds without expectation of any reward or gain is its reward.

Three wooden sculptures of Buddha Sakyamuni.

The ancients regarded the quality of truthfulness as the foundation for establishing a noble life and a healthy nation. Being honest, without greedy intentions, forgiving, generous, magnanimous, fearing God, and respecting Buddha, doing only good deeds is the style of a true man and a true woman. (Image: Sai Chan via Dreamstime)

Incorruptible official

Gao Yun, whose courtesy title was Bogong, was a native of Bohai (now known as Jingxian County, Hebei Province) during the Northern and Southern Dynasties era. He was a famous official of the Northern Wei Dynasty. He believed in Buddhism and had an extraordinary temperament from childhood. When he was over 10 years old, he gave his property to his two younger brothers and became a monk. 

Summoned by the emperor

Later, Gao Yun returned to the secular world to study and became proficient in classics, history, astronomy, and numerology. Throughout his life, he was known for his integrity, honesty, and virtue. Even when faced with matters of life and death, he would never tell lies.

Gao Yun was regarded as a respected official in the county. Later, he was summoned by Emperor Shizu of the Northern Wei Dynasty to serve as a minister and concurrently served as a historian. He was ordered to write the Book of the State along with Situ Cuihao. 

Cuihao was arrogant and even liked to slander Buddha and the Way. He also sought fame and reputation. Under the instigation of two cronies, he ingeniously engraved the Book of the State on a stone tablet. He placed it in the sacrificial place, wanting to make himself immortal for all generations. He wanted to show off his achievements in writing immediately without any scruples. 

Serious trouble ahead

After Gao Yun learned about this incident, he expected that this matter might cause the Cui family to be wiped out, and the people who worked with him, like himself, would be implicated.

The emperor was furious at this insubordination, and Cuihao was arrested. At that time, Gao Yun was on duty in Zhongshu Province. The crown prince wanted to save Gao Yun, so he summoned Gao Yun to stay in the palace. The next day, the prince saw the emperor and asked Gao Yun to accompany him. When they arrived at the palace gate, the prince told Gao Yun: “Go in to meet the emperor, and I will guide you. If the emperor asks you, you must do what I say.” Gao Yun asked why, and the prince said: “Just go in and find out.”

chinese-characters-stone

Cuihao was arrogant and even liked to slander Buddha and the Way. He also sought fame and reputation. Under the instigation of two cronies, he ingeniously engraved the Book of the State on a stone tablet. (Image: Shutterstock)

The crown prince pleads for mercy

After going in to meet the emperor, the prince pleaded with him: “Gao Yun, the minister of Zhongshu, is in my palace. I have been with him for many years. He is a cautious man, and I know him very well. Although he works with Cuihao, his position is low and not respected. He is under Cuihao’s control; please pardon him.”

The emperor asked Gao Yun: “Is the Book of the State all written by Cuihao?” Gao Yun replied truthfully: “Lang Deng Yuan wrote the Records of Taizu; the previous work and the records of the former emperor and the present records were co-written by both Cuihao and myself. Cuihao has a lot of administrative affairs, and he is just a “general” overseeing the task. As for the commentary, I have written more than Cuihao.”

The emperor was livid and said: “This is even more serious than Cuihao; there is no way out!” The prince said: “The emperor is majestic and solemn, and Gao Yun is a small minister. He was confused. I have asked him about this in detail before, and he said that Cuihao did it.”

The emperor learns the whole truth and renders his judgment

The emperor asked: “Is it like what the prince said?” Gao Yun solemnly replied: “I mistakenly participated in the writings with my low talent. Your majesty, I deserved to be exterminated. I am certain to die, but I dare not tell lies. The crown prince has kindly begged for my life because I have been by his side for a long time. He didn’t ask me about it, and I didn’t say anything like that. I answered the truth, and I was not confused.”

The emperor told the prince: “What a righteous and frank man! On the verge of death, he does not change his statement. This is very difficult for ordinary people to do so! Besides answering the emperor with the truth, this is a loyal minister. In such a case, can we lose such a loyal servant because of a single sin? He should be pardoned.”

Honesty is not only the best policy, it is life

The emperor valued honesty and integrity so much that it outweighed even a fatal mistake; this is how Gao Yun was pardoned for the offense.

Translated by Chua BC

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