Stories from Ancient China: Forbearance Ignites Benevolence in Others

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Zhang Jin was born in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) of ancient China. He married a Ms. Liu from a rich family. Zhang Jin's mother was extremely bossy and envious. Three of her previous daughters-in-law had left since they could not tolerate her ill-treatment. Liu was the fourth daughter-in-law. After she moved in with Zhang's family, her mother-in-law really liked, amazing everyone.

They asked Ms. Liu why her mother-in-law liked her. She answered, "It is just due to obedience. I comply with all her instructions and am not moved by her provocations. Even for matters that do not accord to etiquette or tasks that are considered inappropriate for women to do, I do not shirk them. Afterwards, I seek an opportunity to calmly explain whether it was right or wrong. This way my mother-in-law regularly listens to me."

After Ms. Liu waited on her mother-in-law for three years, the mother became benevolent. From then on, the mother never ill-treated her daughter-in-law again.

In interpersonal relationships, there is the mentality that if you treat me badly, then I will treat you badly or even worse. As a result, we can only deepen and sharpen our opposition by returning evil for evil and repaying ill will with resentment. That would not solve the basic problem in the least. However, when we are faced with a conflict, whether the other side is right or wrong, we could forbear and step back. Then we can explain calmly and genially. Facing a mind and words of benevolence, I believe even the most imperious person will hesitate to be aggravated and even the greatest conflicts will be solved. Let us not forget the ultimate power of benevolence and forbearance.

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