A Story of Pure Benevolence


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Fan Zhong Yan (范仲淹) was a famous duke in the Song Dynasty. He named his eldest son Fan Chun Ren (范纯仁), which literally means “pure benevolence”. From a young age, the son strived to live true to the name his father gave him.


One time, his father asked him to transport 500 pecks of grain from the capital city back to their hometown in Jiangsu via boat. During his trip, he encountered his father’s long-time good friend. While catching up, the man told him about his family situation. His daughter still had not married yet, and the family’s living situation is quite tough. Furthermore, his parents recently died, and he doesn’t have the money to give them a proper funeral.


After hearing this, Fan Chun Ren immediately decided to go sell the 500 pecks of grain and give the money to his father’s friend. The friend was very grateful, but it was still not enough for his needs. Fan Chun Ren wanted to help thoroughly, so he then sold the boat. After that, the money was enough.


After this event, Fan Chun Ren returned to the capital city and sat down with his father to report on his journey. He described how he had encountered his father’s long-time friend mid-journey, and how that friend’s economic situation was tough, and he didn’t have the money to give his recently passed parents a proper funeral. He explained how he sold the 500 pecks of grains, but the money still wasn’t enough.


At that point, the father said, “Well then, you should have sold the boat!”


The son replied, “Father, I did sell the boat.”


They both smiled at their unspoken connection. The son had indeed lived true to his name.

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