Ma Vien grew up as an orphan. Life was very hard but he was undaunted. He used to tell his friends, “When you face great suffering, you should strengthen your resolve; when you become old, you should become even more unrelenting in your resolve.”
Therefore, Ma Vien worked very hard. He vigorously cultivated the fields, took great care of his animals and eventually became very wealthy. However, he did not rest on his laurels. He often told his friends, “Those who are rich should understand that they are to use their wealth to help the poor and unfortunate. Otherwise, they are just slaves to their wealth and would be wasting their lives guarding it. What’s so great about that?
True to his words, Ma Vien then gave away his fortune to help the poor. Afterward, he became an official.
Even though he was advanced in age, he often volunteered to defeat rebellions or chase down bandits all over the country. Every time he came back victorious and his village folks came out in salute, he said, “A man should die at the frontiers. A horse skin would suffice as coffin. That’s the mark of a worthy man. Otherwise, what is so remarkable about dying in your own bed?”
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A good life is the result of strengthening one’s resolve and honing one’s skills to build or contribute to society.
We should all follow Ma Vien’s example by serving others and not put ourselves above it all. Then life would have meaning.