In ancient China, Lưu Ngưng Chi had the reputation of being a man of principle. He gave his share of his inheritance to his siblings because he wanted to earn his own livelihood without depending on anybody. He even refused to become an official and chose to travel everywhere instead.
One day, someone came and claimed that the shoes that Lưu was wearing was his. Lưu immediately gave up his shoes without any resistance. Later, the same man found his own shoes and came to apologize and wanted to return Lưu’s shoes. Lưu categorically refused.
There was Thẩm Lân Sĩ, who was a very good scholar. He also refused to become an official and instead chose to earn a meager living as a teacher.
One day, Thẩm’s neighbor came over and claimed that the shoes that Thẩm’s was wearing were his. Thẩm exclaimed: “So these are your shoes!” and immediately surrendered them. A day later, the neighbor came to return Thẩm’s shoes because he found his own shoes. Thẩm exclaimed: “So they are not yours afterall?” and good-naturedly accepted the shoes back.
Although the shoes are not worth much we all should learn to emulate Thẩm’s behavior.
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Although Lưu yielded to others he harbored resentment and did not realize that he nurtured afflictions instead of resolving them. Whether he was well-off or not, he was still unhappy.
In contrast, Thẩm was more open-minded. Therefore, when the situation was advantageous or not, righteous or not, or sensible or not, he was still at ease and happy. That is the Mahayana spirit of according with all living beings.