Mr. Phạm Trọng Yêm was prime minister of the Song Dynasty and yet he was poor his entire life. He valued righteousness over money and loved to do charity work. He saved enough money from his salary to buy a plot of land to plant crops and used the proceeds to do charity work. Whoever needed help with funerals and marriages, could come to him for help.
His son was Thuần Nhân and was a spitting image of him. He was an official at a small province, saved enough to buy five barrels of grain to bring home to his father. On the way home, he met with his father’s old friend who fell on hard times and had three deaths in the family. So, he gave him the five barrels of grain to help. Furthermore, the father’s friend also had two daughters who could not get married because they lacked dowries. So, he gave them his boat as well.
So, the son came home empty handed. His father inquired about the trip.
The son said, “I met with your old friend who was in financial difficulties and also had three funerals in the household. So, I gave him the five barrels of grains which I fear still wasn’t enough.”
“Why didn’t you give them your boat?” asked his father.
“I did,” was the reply.
His father exclaimed, “Attaboy!”
These superior men’s story beautifully illustrates the Mahayana practice of giving: Give until it hurts. And then continue giving.